Finns celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve, perhaps not wholly unrelated to my previous post about us being obsessed about being on time.
Nevertheless, the traditional thing to do is to first visit the cemetary to light a candle for family members no longer with us. This is indeed the one time of the year there are massive traffic jams outside the cemetary. There’s massive amounts of snow everywhere and candles lighting the night so it is actually quite pretty..
After this things get a bit weirder. Most people then go to the sauna. In the nude I might add – none of that shy towel-wrapping thing in Finland. Some of us choose to roll in the snow and then go back to sauna for an added thrill. (Now how many creepy stalkers did I gain by revealing that?)
Then there’s the Christmas dinner. Most dishes would have been prepared the night before because they’re about as peasant dishes as these things get – a massive piece of ham covered in mustard for example, accompanied by carrot casserole, potato casserole, liver casserole, swede casserole (the vegetable, not our neighbours) and so on which take a lot of time to prepare. Most people go all the way and have all these casseroles, not just one.
After stuffing yourself, there’s the time Christmas was invented for: presents.
The word joulu, meaning Christmas, is by the way, in the Germanic tradition and has no relation to the whole Christian thing like in English. So even naughty atheists like me can gen enjoy the day.
I hope you too will have a lovely Christmas.