The Activities Abroad Blog

Finnish Traditions at Christmas


If you’re travelling to Finnish Lapland over Christmas, you’re probably wondering how you might be spending the big day. Excitingly, as the official homeland of Father Christmas, you’ll be in one of the most festive places in the world. What’s more, there are some spectacular Finnish traditions that will help you celebrate just as the locals do. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest and best. 

December celebrations


The first Sunday in December officially starts the festive season, known as the first advent. Similarly to the UK, children will use advent calendars to count down the days to Christmas.

December 13 is also a big celebration. Known as St Lucia Day or the Feast of Saint Lucy, this day celebrates the 3rd-century martyr who brought food to Christians in hiding, using a candle-lit wreath to light her way. Therefore the day is celebrated with lots of candles and traditionally, the eldest girl will wear a white robe and a crown of candles and serve treats to her parents. This also signifies the time for families to decorate the Christmas tree and exchange cards.

Christmas Eve


In Finland, the main Christmas celebrations take place on the 24th. The day starts with rice porridge with a special surprise. An almond is hidden in the pot and whoever finds and eats it will have good fortune for the following year.

The Christmas sauna ‘joulusauna’ is also an important tradition on Christmas Eve. Before the big day, the sauna will be thoroughly cleaned, then on the 24th, the whole family will enjoy the peace and quiet of the sauna, cleansing the mind and body.

Following the sauna, family members will dress up and enjoy lots of food as well as receiving presents from Joulupukki (Father Christmas). Christmas dinner is usually served in the evening between 5pm and 7pm and traditionally includes ham and rutabaga casserole.

After the family has enjoyed dinner, it is important to leave some treats for the sauna elf, as the Finnish believe every sauna has its own elf whom they need to take care of.

Other traditions


Animals are also given their own Christmas feast, with farmers sometimes hanging wheat or nuts on trees to be eaten by the birds.

Christmas Day tends to be much quieter than the 24th. Often families spend it at home and on Boxing Day many people tend to enjoy the outdoors, possibly skiing or skating on a frozen lake.

Christmas officially ends 13 days after the 25th, so the festivities most certainly cover a season here in Finland not just a day - and with magical winter wonderland surroundings, who can blame them?

View our Christmas holidays to Finland here.

Image credits: Lise Gagne, Antti Pietikainen, Visit Finland, Markku Inkila

Read 3731 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 May 2021

    Created by families for families

    Experience real adventures enjoyed safely

    Family friendly destinations and accommodation

    Maximising your precious family time


    Family time, not screen time

    Family memories to treasure

    For toddlers, young children, teenagers & adults alike

    Enjoy the company of like-minded families


    Family owned and run

    Proudly Independent

    Personal, hands-on service

    Fair and sustainable work ethos


    We research the holidays so you don’t have to

    ATOL and ABTA Financial protection available

    Customers rate us 4.8/5 Stars

    Award-Winning: Best Travel Company for Adventure Holidays 2023

MrZenTravel Website Development

We use cookies to help us provide a better service for you. By continuing to use this site you agree to the use of cookies. Click here for more information