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Experience a true Northern Christmas
2 minute read
Christmas gingerbread baking preparations

Credits:: Virpi Mikkonen

Nature is the key element of a true Finnish Christmas

Everyone knows Santa Claus comes from Finland, but there’s more to a traditional Finnish Christmas than Saint Nick and presents. During the festive season, Finns like to take things slow and enjoy the company of loved ones – with a side of mulled wine and sauna.

White landscapes shrouded in darkness, lit only by stars in the sky and ice lanterns on driveways, set the mood for a cosy festive season. For most, Christmas preparations in Finland start by deciding where to spend it. At home with family is a common choice, but some families rent a cottage or villa in the countryside.

Food also plays a central part in Finland’s Christmas celebrations. Pork roast is the main dish in most households and it’s served with a variety of fish, casseroles and salads. The traditional Christmas Eve breakfast is rice pudding. Later, after a couple Christmas ales, carols are sung with gusto. At the end of the night, a warm Christmas sauna relaxes one’s body and soul.

Santa Claus carries a gift bag in a snowy landscape
Credits: Juho Kuva

Traditional Finnish delicacies

Sweet pastries, cakes and biscuits are Finnish Christmas treats beloved by people of all ages. One of the most cherished tasks of Christmastime is decorating gingerbread, which is often hung from the branch of a beautiful spruce tree.

Learn more about Finnish Christmas markets.

a Christmas door wreath
Finns hang wreathes made of spruce branches and other organic materials on their doors at Christmastime.
Credits: : Jussi Hellstén
children on a couch and Christmas treats and delicacies on a table
Gingerbread cookies are a staple of any Finnish Christmas. Another Christmas delicacy is the spicy bundt cake, or ‘maustekakku’ in Finnish.
Credits:: Lauri Kivikataja

Gingerbread and wine before Christmas sauna

Finnish Christmas wouldn’t be the same without gingerbread, spicy mulled wine and wood-fired sauna. These things truly embody the holiday spirit.

mulled wine and gingerbread on a table
A hot cup of glögi (mulled wine) and a gingerbread cookie are must-haves during the Christmas season in Finland.
Credits: Jussi Hellstén

Glögi – Finnish mulled wine

“Glögi,” a type of mulled wine, is the favoured hot drink at Christmas. It’s usually made out of red wine or red fruit juice mixed with spices like cardamon and cinnamon and served with raisins and almonds.

santa claus talks to children under the christmas tree
Credits: : Lauri Kivikataja
a cup of mulled wine and Christmas gingerbread cookies
Credits:: Visit Tampere / Laura Vanzo

Ice lanterns – Finnish Christmas decorations

Ice lanterns or lanterns made out of small snow balls are popular ways to light up the wintry darkness of the Christmas season.

father and child on their way to sledding in snowy terrain
Credits: Jani Kärppä

The real Santa Claus

For Finns, Christmas Eve is the main event of the holidays and the night Santa brings children gifts. It’s usually spent with family, decorating the tree, drinking glögi, and bathing in a Christmas sauna. Midnight Christmas mass is a tradition for many.

Did you know that Santa lives in Finland? Find out how you can pay him a visit.

close up of a Santa's reindeer
Credits: Visit Rovaniemi