Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is celebrated on the 24th of December. This is the day that children look forward to, in anticipation of the Christmas presents they will receive after dinner. Christmas Eve is usually spent with family or relatives. In Finnish homes, it is typical to buy and decorate a Christmas tree, to prepare presents and to make preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner. After dinner, the awaited Santa Clause ("joulupukki") arrives in families with young children to give them presents. After opening the presents, the family plays games or sings Christmas carols. Going to Christmas Eve mass used to be common, but it is not as popular nowadays. Many people warm up a Christmas sauna. Some families also visit graves of relatives who have passed away, and light them with candles.

At Christmas, food is very important. Traditionally the day starts with a plate of rice porridge. The cook mixes one almond into the porridge, and the person who receives the almond will be married in the coming year. A traditional Finnish Christmas dinner includes a large roasted Christmas ham. Some people also roast turkey, but ham is much more popular in Finland. Other popular dishes are rutabaga casserole, carrot casserole, beetroot pate, Christmas bread, salted salmon, mixed vegetable salad ("rosolli"), mushroom salad and marinated herrings. Desserts include prune pudding, date cake, fruit cake, rice pudding, sweet Christmas buns, cinnemon buns, and gingerbread. Finnish glogg ("glögi") is a popular Christmas drink, a warm mixture of juices and spices, and in some cases heated red wine.

Even though Christmas has become very commercial, as in most countries, people still cherish old traditions and spending time with family. Everyone remembers to wish each other "Hyvää joulua!"