Christmas / Joulu

When: December 24 to December 26

What: In Finland, Christmas is traditionally celebrated with family. Unlike in most countries, the highlight of the Finnish Christmas celebration is Christmas Eve (jouluaatto). Celebrations start with the declaration of Christmas peace at noon in the city of Turku, prompting people to behave in a respectful and peaceful manner at Christmas. Typical traditions include bathing in the sauna and enjoying a Christmas meal with ham, salmon, and a variety of casseroles. Chocolates, gingerbread, and star-shaped pastries with a prune jam filling (joulutorttu) are also a part of the traditional Christmas menu. Presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus usually visits families with young children. Christmas Day (joulupäivä) is generally a quiet day spent either at home or visiting relatives, but on Boxing Day (tapaninpäivä) things may get livelier as especially younger people tend to go out with friends.

Before Christmas: The Christmas party season usually starts in early November. Companies, schools, and student organizations throw Christmas parties, where you may be treated to some traditional Christmas delights, like rice porridge and glögi (a warm, spiced drink). Christmas markets are held all over Finland.

A tip from a former grantee:
“Fulbrighters should know that they should find their own entertainment over Christmas, whether it is going on a trip or something else. If you are not ready for it, it can get very lonely here. There is a lot of excitement and lots of parties during “little Christmas” and then it stops dead about December 22 or so”.

Opening hours and public transport:

December 24: Some public service offices, banks, and post offices may be open until noon, but most will be closed all day. Alko liquor stores will be closed. Shops will also close early. Public transport will operate during the day, but not in the evening.

December 25: Public service offices, banks, post offices, and Alko liquor stores will be closed. Most shops will be closed, but convenience stores at gas stations may be open. In most areas, public transport will resume by noon, but may be operating a reduced service.

December 26: Public service offices, banks, post offices, and Alko liquor stores will be closed. Some shops may be closed. Public transport will mostly operate on a Sunday schedule.


Find out more about Christmas in Finland and in your area:

The Declaration of Christmas Peace