The Nords know SNOW!
It is slightly strange that one of the most popular and memorable Christmas songs “White Christmas” was written in the USA when a huge part of this country has no idea what snow really is.
However in Finland and other Nordic countries snow is pretty much essential part of Christmas and Christmas cards, gift wrappings and ornaments are in many ways honoring that.
It is not unusual for kids to get snow-related Christmas presents. Sleighs, skates, skis, sliders just vanish from the stores come December, for everyone wants the coolest one of course. The letters to Santa… oh Santa, yeah… that is a story of it’s own… yeah, the letters to Santa are usually very carefully written and include most snow-related fun stuff you can ever imagine.
All the American kids are told that Santa lives at the North Pole. He has his own train and everything. Unfortunately, the stories have been quite misleading. How do I know? Because I have MET Santa himself! Honestly! I have! In Rovaniemi, Finland. Right at the Arctic Circle in Santa Park! That is where Santa Claus lives now. Of course he was born in a different place, a Fjell called “Korvatunturi”, which basically means “Ear Fjell”… odd names they come up with. The story of how Santa Claus was born has been made into a Finnish movie. Check it out! It is truly worth watching.
The strangest thing about Santa Claus in Finland is, that he visits the families and you actually get to meet him! No chimneys for this chubby old red-hood! He walks in, sings a few Christmas songs with the family, gives the presents and then he leaves, saying “We’ll meet again next Christmas!”
Finnish Christmas Delicacies!
The word “delicacies” is a bit misleading there, at least that is what it feels like at first when you first sit down to enjoy a traditional Finnish Christmas meal. Firstly, it is served on the Christmas Eve, which by every scale is the most important day of the Holiday Season to the Finns. The meat of the meal is pork, the ham is prepared with almost religious tradition, and the pork / ham is the main topic of discussion for a long time after Christmas. The meat jelly, also known as head cheese is often served and then we go to the casseroles. Carrot casserole, rutabaga casserole, mashed potatoes casserole and liver casserole. You thought the casseroles would be vegetables only! Ha! The Finns actually serve liver casserole at Christmas dinner. We must not forget the fish! There is prickled raw fish, herring prepared in different ways and lutefisk. Finns also like rosolli salad which is made of beetroot, potatoes, carrot and onion. The recipe differs based on areas of Finland. Some also put anchovy in the rosolli salad and most areas prefer to use boiled eggs as decorative feature. The Rosolli Salad is served with a mix of whipped cream and vinegar.
Many families have their own traditions that are carried out through generations. White cheese made of eggs and milk, liver paste, pickled onions and so on. Many dishes depend on which part of Finland the family members are originally from. Karelian families have Karelian pies, whereas Lapland families often serve reindeer meat.
Finns have Christmas Trees too!
The Christmas traditions do not differ so much from the American ways. Finns have a Christmas Tree, they sing Christmas songs, and the main thing is to be together with people they love and care for and yes, I guess the presents are kind of important too – Especially to the children!