Christmas is a very special celebration in Finland. After all, Santa is himself here at home.
You can visit him all year round right on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi. In this article, I'll tell you everything you need to know about the Santa Claus Village, and why going on a trip here is worth it even without children. I will also introduce you to a few more appealing destinations in Finland during the Advent and Christmas season, the illuminated Finnish Christmas traditions and the typical treats.
Visiting Joulupukki – the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi
Every kid knows that Santa Claus comes from Finland. But did you know that he also welcomes visitors of all ages in his residence in Rovaniemi? In the Santa Claus village on the Arctic Circle, in the Finnish Joulupukin Pajakylä, Joulupukki personally welcomes you and you can have a picture taken with him and your loved one. The official main Post Office of Santa Claus invites you to send postcards to your home country with a special stamp that you only get here.
Personally, I have visited Santa Claus Village both in winter and in summer, and my recommendation is very clear: decide on your first visit for winter time when it's dark and the Santa Claus Village presents itself in the midst of a snow-covered landscape. The atmosphere is magical and even as an adult you feel like you're back in your childhood for a few moments.
The Santa Claus Village is without question very commercially designed. There are souvenir shops, factory outlet and workshop sales. Nevertheless, it has retained its own charm. Just around the corner is also the SantaPark, an underground amusement park with all sorts of activities for the kids.
More information: https://santaclausvillage.info/de/
Enjoy Lapland at Christmas time
If you've been to Rovaniemi and visited Santa Claus, you should not miss the opportunity to explore the Finnish Lapland in more detail. It can certainly be crisp and cold but with the right clothes you will be able to enjoy the fantastic clear air and untouched nature of this winter wonderland to the fullest.
One of the highlights of wintery Lapland, of course, is the opportunity to see the legendary Northern Lights here. Husky sleigh rides or reindeer sleigh rides are also available to glide through the snowy Finnish forests and gather memories for eternity.
More information: https://www.lapland.fi
Tuomaan Markkinat - Helsinki's atmospheric Christmas Market
The most famous Christmas market in Finland is held in Helsinki. The "Tuomaan Markkinat" is open from Monday to Friday from 11am to 8pm throughout the whole of December until the 22nd of December. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can stroll through the market from 10 to 19 o'clock. On Senate Square, right in front of the majestic white cathedral of the capital, numerous exhibitors present treats from the most diverse regions of the country and all kinds of great gifts. Even a Christmas sauna is offered! There are also special events such as a Lucia procession on the 13.12. or various vocal performances.
More information: https://tuomaanmarkkinat.fi/
A trip to the pre-Christmas Porvoo
A small town that I like to visit is Porvoo. Not far from Helsinki, this place is also a great destination for a day trip as part of your city trip. I like Porvoo very much in the summer - but the historic town is also worth a visit during the Advent season. When the narrow alleyways shine in the Christmas light and the traditional Christmas market opens on the Old Town Hall Square, you have many opportunities to enjoy and Christmas shopping.
More information: https://www.visitporvoo.fi/whats-on-in-porvoo
The most important Finnish Christmas traditions
Christmas is a family celebration in Finland. Enjoying time together, finding peace - this is especially important to the Finns. After the three-day Christmas Peace was proclaimed on Christmas Eve at 12 o'clock in the old capital of Turku, it can be contemplated throughout the country. Before the feast begins, a visit in the sauna does not harm anyone.
In addition to the Joulupukki, as Santa Claus is called in Finnish, the Tonttus also play a central role. These little gnomes are the ubiquitous helpers of Santa Claus and not least to recognize their pointed caps. Of course, there is also a Christmas tree in Finland, which is festively decorated. This one is called "Joulukuusi" here. Ice lanterns are a popular decorative element in the outdoor area.
Of course, under the Christmas tree in many families also like to be sung. International classics such as "Silent Night, Holy Night" sound like "Jouluyö, Juhlayö" - as well as traditional Finnish songs, such as "Joulumaa". If you prefer to listen to the Christmas classics in a metal garb, then you will need a CD of "Raskasta Joulua".
Katri Helena - Joulumaa: https://youtu.be/Ex53WUcnOFI
Christmas dinner and Christmas treats
Naturally, culinary aspects also play an important role when the Finns celebrate Christmas. The traditional Christmas ham ("Joulukinkku") still enjoys great popularity. Roast pork is often served as a main course. There are also various casseroles, fish and salads.
A popular tradition is rice pudding for Christmas breakfast. What in no case may be missing around the Christmas tree, are the ever-popular gingerbread ("Piparkakut"), a special kind of Christmas cookies. In addition, then delicious Christmas chocolate, that you can order in the LittleFinland online shop, some Glögi (Finnish mulled wine) and a few Christmas beer and an entertaining evening is nothing in the way.
COMPETITION: As part of our Christmas raffle you have the chance to win and share 40 € Christmas shopping money for youself and a friend. Just go to the competition post on our Facebook or Instagram site. Tell us what is your favourite nordic Christmas item and tag a friend with whom you want to share the shopping money. Participation in the raffle is possible until 10 am Friday 7 December 2018. The winner will be notified personally.
Text: René Schwarz
Photos: Photo 1 René Schwarz, photos 2-6 Visit Finland and photo 7 Fazer
About the author:
René Schwarz grew up half Finn and bilingual. The self-employed copywriter and author regularly travels to his second home country and loves to share his passion for Suomi with others. He has been doing this on his blog FinnTouch since the beginning of 2016, where you can expect numerous travel tips from Finland, interviews with Finnish artists and even personal stories. Have a look at www.finntouch.de!