Meaningful Christmas traditions on the coast play an important role during the holidays. Decorating the tree, exchanging gifts, attending church, and enjoying delicious food – just create those special moments to remember. Traditions bind us together in families, in communities, and within our cultures.
As we enter the holiday season, we thought it might be fun to explore the unique traditions in many coastal communities around the world. Join us as we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, highlighting culture, customs, and recipes from interesting coastal areas.
Today we focus on Finland (Brrrrr)…
‘Hyvää Joulua!’ from Finland
It’s fitting that we begin with Finland, since it is the home of the actual North Pole. Did you know that the REAL Santa’s Village is located in Rovaniemi, Finland? This special place is located right inside the Arctic Circle and covered with snow for about half of the year. The Santa Claus Village is known as “Santa’s Official North Pole Residence” and it is one of the most popular travel destinations in Finland.
Santa is HERE!
This magical village is open year-round, but especially impressive in the winter. First, you can meet Santa in person, ride on a reindeer sleigh, or walk across the Arctic Circle line which runs through the Santa Claus Village. In addition, visitors to the village can mail postcards from the Santa Claus Post office, which includes Santa’s special “North Pole” postmark. Also, you can shop for souvenirs at many of the local shops and learn about Christmas traditions in Finland at the Christmas exhibition. Furthermore, the authentic Elf Academy on-site is one-of-a-kind, where different kinds of elves learn ancient elf wisdoms and skills. Of course, everyone can’t become a working elf expert overnight, but if you sneak into our Elf Academy, these little guys will tell you the secrets of their tips and tricks. Incredibly, kids of all ages will love this one!
Winter Fun for Everyone!
In the Rovaniemi area, there is a reindeer farm (where Santa gets his reindeer) and it is open for visitors. Importantly, reservations are required, but you can feed the herd and visit with the local family who runs the farm. Perfectly situated, Rovaniemi is an ideal location to admire the Northern Lights, which is an amazing experience.
Would you like an Igloo?
Guests can stay at the Arctic SnowHotel in a room made with snow, just a few miles away. Incredibly, the hotel offers frozen beds layered with reindeer skins and cozy sleeping bags designed for extreme Arctic conditions. In the event that you would like to get married here, there is a chapel (shown above) which would make gorgeous photos. Guests sit on ice blocks lined with skins to keep them warm during the service. Ironically, there is a warm sauna right on the premises, if you need some additional heat. 🙂
Christmas on the Coast
The “coastline” in Finland offers ice fishing when you visit in the winter, too. Interestingly, the Finnish coast borders the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and has one of the longest coastlines in the world. Its 19,336 miles of shorelines include the world’s largest archipelago. Amazingly, there are more than 50,000 beautiful islands scattered across the sea, with plenty of hidden gems to discover.
Traditions within the country of Finland vary just like ours. However, most Finnish families traditionally eat rice porridge on Christmas morning, which is considered to be December 24th. The breakfast pudding is topped with cinnamon, sugar, milk or butter with possibly a hidden almond. Whoever finds the almond inside the pudding receives good luck for the year ahead. It wouldn’t be Christmas on the coast of Finland without this pudding! It is also customary for family and friends to warm up in a sauna together. They can cool off afterwards in the snow if needed.
Some of the traditional foods which are common for Christmas dinner in Finland might include freshly salted salmon, Rosolli salad (fresh pickled beetroot), Glass Master’s herring (marinated), baked ham, warm mixed fruit soup, Christmas bread (prepared with orange peel, caraway & rye), Christmas pastries (Joulutortut) and gingerbread cookies (piparkakut). Most events during the holiday have the traditional Christmas glogg (mulled wine), usually offered in a non-alcoholic version as well.
The Best Pastries!
These fluffy, star-shaped Christmas pastries are available at every store and café in Finland during November and December. (Joulutortut)
- 7 oz soft butter or margarine
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
Sweetened prune puree or plum jam
1. First, put all the pastry ingredients into a bowl and mix quickly by hand into a dough. Don’t knead too much.
2. Next, place the dough in a cold place to harden.
3. Then, roll out dough on a floured board, folding a few times to make a puff pastry. Afterwards, make a 1/4 inch thick sheet with the dough.
4. Next, cut the sheet into 3×3 inch squares, splitting the corners of each square.
5. Finally, place a bit of prune puree or plum jam in the middle of each square. Fold over every other split end onto the center, in order to form a windmill-like pastry.
6. Lastly, brush with beaten egg and bake at 450° F until light brown. To make round pastries, cut into circles, fill, and fold in half. Then, bake as above.
Warm Mixed Fruit Soup
This soup sounded so unique and very interesting, so I wanted to try it. Consequently, it is easy to make and tasty!
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Soaking time: overnight
Cooking time: about 15 minutes
- about 1 lb. dried mixed fruit
- 8 cups water
- 3/4 cup
- stick of cinnamon
- dash of salt
- 3 tablespoons potato starch
1. First, rinse the mixed fruit in cold water and leave to soak overnight in water containing a little sugar.
2. Then, boil the fruit in the soaking liquid with cinnamon and a touch of salt if desired.
3. Next, continue to boil over a low heat until the fruit is fully cooked.
4. Finally, transfer the fruit with a slotted spoon to the serving dish and remove the stick of cinnamon.
5. Lastly, thicken the juice and remove the pan from the heat. Then, mix the potato starch in a little cold water and add in a thin stream to the liquid, stirring continuously. Quickly, return back to the boil without stirring.
6. When ready, pour the juice over the fruit and sprinkle a little sugar over the top.
Experiencing Christmas on the coast of Finland would be amazing. Cold, yes – but an incredible journey for sure!
Follow along for all of the 12 Days of Christmas Journeys
Finland (This post) – Day 1