Christmas in Finland: ‘Joulupukki’ alias the Christmas Goat

| Mathijs de Ruiter

It’s that time of the year again. Christmas. Yet, each corner of the world celebrates this holiday a bit differently. In this series we will shed some light on Christmas traditions of UT international students. This episode, we meet with Kasper Sivula (20), a Psychology student from Finland.

Photo by: Monica Ricci

Could you tell us something about Christmas in your country?
‘Christmas is a very important holiday in Finland, as it is in Western countries in general. People all over the country put Christmas lights on trees in their yards, which gives a nice atmosphere in the otherwise cold and dark winters. People in Finland usually hope for “a white winter”, that there will be snow on the ground. In Finland, it is possible that the first snow falls in October, November or December, but it can melt before Christmas and come back later during the winter.’

What is a unique Christmas tradition in your country?
‘A strong tradition in Finland is having a winter tree, which is basically a decorated spruce, and the tree is most commonly a real tree, rather than an artificial spruce. Another strong tradition in Finland is the food. There is a traditional Christmas meal in Finland that includes for example a certain type of ham. There is also Christmas pastry, like mince pastry, which is really typical for Finland.’

What do you expect from a Dutch Christmas?
‘I expect it to be pretty similar to Finnish Christmas if it comes to the basic elements. However, I think there will be differences in ritual traditions. Finland has some specific customs. Finnish people believe that Santa Claus lives in Lapland, animals are given their very own Christmas - sometimes they even get their own trees on farms - and we sometimes call Santa Claus “Joulupukki” (Christmas Goat).’

How are you going to celebrate Christmas this year?
‘I’m going to Finland to visit my family, where we gather up with my parents and brothers, and possibly some relatives. Christmas in Finland is a real family event.’

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