Christmas traditions in Finland

For many Finnish people Christmas is the number one holiday of the year and there are many traditions during this time. Delicious Christmas foods, sweets & chocolate, Christmas sauna, visiting the cemetery or the church on the Eve. Listening to Christmas carols and most importantly enjoying the time with the family and loved ones. The highlight of Christmas Eve is usually the visit of Santa Claus.

Picture: Jussi Hellsten / Visit Finland

Traditional Christmas Food

During the Christmas Eve the dinner table is filled with traditional Finnish Christmas foods. There are various casseroles(Joululaatikko)that are made of carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and rutabagas. There is also rosolli which is a traditional salad including potatoes, beetroot and carrots. Many people also have gravlax or other fish. However, the the most important food on the Finnish Christmas table is the ham, usually enjoyed with some strong mustard.

Picture: Lauri Kivikataja / Visit Finland

Sweets and chocolates are also present on Christmas. Probably the most famous sweet to enjoy during the Christmas is a star-shaped tart called Joulutorttu which is made of puff pastry and filled with prune jam. Gingerbread, known as Joulupipari is also very popular treat to enjoy during Christmas holidays. Making gingerbread houses is a Christmas tradition in many families as well. And let´s not forget Glögi, Finnish version of mulled wine.

Picture: Jussi Hellsten / Visit Finland

Christmas Sauna

Going to the sauna on Christmas is also a tradition, even though Finnish people love sauna all year around. Christmas sauna can be enjoyed anytime of the day. Sauna is a place for relaxation and peace. Its is truly Finnish invention and everyone visiting Finland during Christmas, or any time of the year, should experience the sauna. There are more than three million saunas in country of just over five million people. Sauna is now also protected part of Finland´s cultural heritage since 2020.

Picture: Harri Tarvainen / VIsit Finland

Cemetery visits and Christmas Eve Church

These two traditions are very common. Many Finnish people visit to cemeteries during Christmas Eve to light up a candle to their loved ones who have already passed. The sight of thousands of graveside candles glowing in the dark is just beautiful.

Christmas Eve Church is very popular and beautiful tradition too. For many Finns this is the only time of the year when they visit the church.

Picture: Rob Smith / Visit Finland

The visit of Santa Claus

This is something that kids are waiting for the most, and maybe some adults too. It is an old tradition to eat the dinner first and wait for Santa to visit with his presents late in the evening. Sometimes this can be a bit difficult for the younger ones in the family so Santa´s visit can also be earlier in the afternoon. Many times kids might present a song to Santa, offer him some glögi and joulupipari first. Then Santa Claus will distribute presents to everyone and continue his journey to another home.

Picture: Lauri Kivikataja / Visit Finland

Of course there is more traditions than the ones mentioned in this posts. Traditions can be a bit different always in every family and also in different regions around Finland. If you end up travelling to Finland during the Christmas time we are more than happy to help you to make your Christmas as memorable as possible.

We hope you all have a beautiful and relaxed Christmas!

– Elämys DMC team

The main image of the post: Juho Kuva / Visit Finland