Finland or what is officially called the Republic of Finland is a Nordic country situated in northern Europe. It is one of the top travel destinations for many people across the world. When you are in Finland, you are going to explore some of the features that make the country a perfect Christmas destination. 

Finland is bordered by Sweden to the northwest, the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and the Gulf of Finland to the south across from Estonia. The country is a popular travel destination in the Scandinavia region and the largest city is Helsinki. 

A large population of people in the country are Finns and the most common spoken languages are Swedish and Finnish.  The climate of the country varies from the north to the south with the northern region experiencing boreal while the south features a humid continental climate. 

Perhaps one of the common traditions in the region is the Christmas tradition. It is one of the most important holidays that you are going to experience in the country.  Families across the country usually gather during this period and celebrate the season. 

History of the Finnish Christmas

Christmas is a major celebration in Finland and it is celebrated universally across the country. During your visit to the region, you are going to see some of the most unique customs and traditions in the world. The celebration is used to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and in Finland it is called joulu. While this celebration is not Christian because of its origin, it is a word that dates back to the Iron Age period.

This is a remnant of the Scandinavian language that dates back to the 500s to the 650s. This means that the people in the country have been celebrating the holiday in the region for so many years. 

The ancient version of the word jol is often used in Iceland. According to history, the Christmas period in the region was a pagan celebration of the winter period.  However, in the modern era, the tradition has become more Christianized and now, you will learn some of the traditions that you can only find in this region. 

Christmas Traditions in Finland

Christmas sunrise in Helsinki.

Christmas in Finland is something that has a major root that dates back to centuries ago and it is one of the most popular holidays in the country. The most important day in the Christmas celebration is Christmas Eve.

In other areas, Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December and the celebrations usually end with Epiphany Day on January 6th. In Finnish folklore, St. Knutt’s Day has played a critical role in building the tradition across the country. It is believed that St. Knutt took away all the Christmas celebrations on his day on January 13th. 

Some of the long-lasting Christmas traditions across the country are:

  • going to church
  • visiting the sauna
  • listening to Christmas carols
  • visiting the cemeteries
  • opening the Christmas calendar
  • lighting advent candles
  • and decorating their home with Christmas trees and candles – perhaps the most common theme across the country 

P.S. If you are interested in the Christmas traditions of other European countries, check out these:

Let’s learn more about the unique Christmas customs and traditions of Finland!


This is a Christmas tradition that allows people to gather together during Christmas as they often sit around the dinner table with their loved ones.  Many of the traditions remain the same even in the modern era. It is essential to note that the people in the country continue to preserve it. 

Many people in Finland want to preserve their Christmas traditions and this has continued to make the Christmas celebrations gain a stronghold across the country.

Christmas Eve in Finland

A classic Finnish Christmas tree decoration.

The decoration of Christmas Eve has become so common across Finland that you will find almost all people participating in the practice. During your travel to Finland during Christmas, you are going to find some of the most unique features that make the country outstanding.

Once the declaration of peace has taken place, Christmas celebrations will last for twenty more days and this tradition has been repeated over the years since the 17th century.  The main aim of this declaration is to ensure that the people respect Christmas and they are in tandem with the local tradition.  Once the declaration has been made there are songs that are sung around the country.

This is also common with the Finnish national anthem which all have important significance in the patriotic and Christmas celebratory culture in the country. Christmas celebrations on the 24th of December usually kick off on a very high note and the atmosphere is exceptional. 

The Christmas vibe is brought about by many candles, ice lanterns, snowballs, and outdoor blazes.  The interiors of the homes are usually decorated with Christmas decorations that are critical in celebrating Christmas and getting people to embrace the Christmas spirit.

The Christmas Tree

A decorated Christmas tree in a room.

The tree is perhaps the most important aspect that you are going to find in the country. It is usually brought in fresh from the forest and is usually fir or spruce.  However, in the modern era, these trees can be bought from local vendors across the country and they play a critical role in bringing in the Christmas spirit to the people.

The tree is usually decorated with lights, stars, and other features to make it look exceptional. It is imperative to understand that the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree is usually done on Christmas Eve and it is perfect for you to get the tree on time before the Christmas celebrations can begin.

Families usually gather around on Christmas Eve as the festivities begin. During this day there is so much food that is cooked at home.  While Christmas is the most important day, many people come up with fun activities that they can do on Christmas Eve. 

Children across Finland usually wait for Santa Claus’s visit for days and the eve of Christmas. Baking gingerbread and decorating the spruce are some of the fun activities that are done during this day.

In some traditions, the children will receive gifts even before the Christmas dinner. In some places, you will find that it is a tradition to eat first before Santa can visit. The gifts are usually distributed during the visit.

Many families across Finland usually visit the cemeteries where they visit their loved ones and others head to church. There is a Christmas service on Christmas Eve. You can go to church and join the locals in celebrating the Christmas tradition.

Christmas television programs

Perhaps one of the most common themes that you are going to find across Finland is that many television channels across the country show Christmas programs. The programs have become common over the past half-decade and they usually come in series.

The episodes are broadcasted daily and the children and young adults across the country usually wait for these programs and watch them as they enjoy the Christmas celebrations.

Mauri kunas and magic drum are some of the most common programs that are usually broadcasted across the country.


For many people who are visiting Finland for the first time, they are going to find it interesting that the locals in the country usually have a preference for the Christmas tree. The spruce is the most common Christmas tree that you are going to find in the country. 

This tradition dates back to the 16th century. Over the years people have embraced it and you will find many families using the spruce as their Christmas tree. The culture of using the tree started back in Germany and as the years went by it became a major tradition across the Nordic countries.

The Christmas tree was decorated with flag ribbons, candles, and straw decorations among other unique decorations that you will only find in the region. In the modern era, electric lights are often used and you will find people using traditional candles and Christmas lights. There is a star or angel that is hung on top of the spruce to give it the perfect Christmas vibe.

Further reading: Dangerous animals in Finland

Changes to certain Christmas traditions in Finland

It is important to note that the Christmas decorations and custom that the Christmas tree is often sought from the forest nearby. The father of the family is the one responsible for finding the tree. In recent decades this tradition has begun fading and people can purchase the Christmas trees from local vendors. 

There have been numerous changes that have contributed to more sustainable programs and maintain the Christmas tradition across the country.  The use of spruce as a Christmas tree continues across the country. Perhaps one of the most common traditions is the use of straw sticks and dimmers.

The deportations made from straw are essential because they help accentuate the baby in the manger culture. Barley and oat were often offered to birds and domestic animals during this time and it was believed that it would encourage them to leave enough grains for the people in the coming year.

Traditional Christmas dishes in Finland

A sample of the Christmas food in Finland.

Food is one of the centerpieces when it comes to Finnish traditions. The meals are usually served beginning with rice porridge.  In some places across the country, you will find that people add an almond to this mixture.  The Christmas porridge is often consumed with sugar, butter, and cinnamon. 

During the Christmas period, the evenings are usually spent enjoying mulled wine and gingerbread. There are many people who are enthusiastic about baking and you will find a wide array of gingerbread and other pastries around the country.  If you are visiting the country, you can explore the local bakeries and get some of their local desserts in the region.

Christmas meal is usually prepared on Christmas Eve and many people across the country enjoy it meal while sitting at the table with friends and families. In some of the Christian families around the country, they will read the Bible before they can eat.

The main purpose of Christmas meals is to bond with friends and family. The ham is the most important meal across Finland during this period and is cooked from scratch. You will find that many families usually cook the ham and you can join and see how they are cooking the dish.

There are other traditional dishes that you are going to find prevalent across the country and this may include:

  • swede casserole
  • carrots
  • lutefisk
  • rosolli salad
  • fish dishes

Some of the traditional desserts that you are going to find across the country include:

  • plum jelly
  • gingerbread cookies
  • damson plum jam

In more families in recent years’ chocolate plays an integral role in the Christmas tradition. It is a common tradition in Finland to leave food on the table during Christmas to allow the spirits to enjoy it.

Christmas carols in Finland

These are some of the most important factors when it comes to Christmas. The Christmas carols play an integral role in Christmas traditions across the country. You will find that nearly all the radio stations in the country play Christmas carols during this period. 

The old Christmas carols continue to become more prevalent in the region. Many artists around the country continue to be more popular and you will find that people enjoy their songs. 

Christmas movies and series usually run throughout the Christmas period and they have become very popular in recent times.

You can join in on the Christmas parties that are spread around the country. Or, you can visit some of the iconic Christmas markets and parties around the country. Christmas in Finland is truly a unique experience that you shouldn’t miss!

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.