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Christmas Activities in FinlandDecember 3, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox
Santa Claus at Home and at Play
Santa Claus, Father Christmas and the original Joulupukki
Santa Claus, or Joulupukki in Finnish, is said to reside in northeastern Lapland, on the Korvatunturi Fell. Legend states that the Korvatunturi Fell is shaped like an ear, allowing Santa to hear the wishes of children from around the world. Korvatunturi is “home base” for Santa’s travels above the Arctic Circle.
Santa Claus Village, open throughout the year with free admission, is home to Santa Claus’s Office where you can meet Santa, visit his Main Post Office and observe the flurry of the festive season. Cards, letters and parcels sent from Santa Claus’ Main Post Office are stamped with a unique Arctic Circle postmark.
SantaPark is a fantasy world inside an underground cave where “elves” work all year in preparation for Christmas. Guests can bake and decorate gingerbread in the Gingerbread Kitchen, learn elf skills in Elf School, or make Christmas decorations in the Elf Workshop. SantaPark’s sleigh ride takes guests through four seasons of Finland to the elves’ toy factory where presents for Christmas are made. Entrance is 20 for children and 25 for adults from November 28-January 10. www.santapark.com.
Markets and Celebrations
St. Thomas markets throughout Finland - December
According to the Finnish tradition, Christmas is brought to the homes by St. Thomas on December 21 (St. Thomas Day) and is taken away by St. Knut on January 13. St. Thomas markets prepare for the December 21 celebration, selling handmade Christmas decorations, ornaments, handicrafts, gifts, and treats such as ginger bread and hot mulled wine, Glögi, a warming combination of wine, spices and fruit.
The colorful St. Thomas Market in Helsinki, in Esplanade Park, is the largest Christmas market in Finland with approximately 150 vendors. On weekends, entertainment includes a Finnish Christmas pageant and a visit by Santa Claus. The market is open daily from December 7-20.
Turku Christmas Fair – November 28 – Dcember 25 (weekends)
The Fairat the Old Great Square sells handicrafts and baked goods, with a special twist: all merchandise is chosen by a designated jury.
Helsinki’s St. Lucia Celebration – December 13
On St. Lucia Day, thousands of people gather at Helsinki Cathedral to watch the crowning of a young woman as St. Lucia. Adapted from Swedish tradition and celebrated in this form in Finland since 1949, a candle-lit procession through the city follows where Lucia greets the public wearing a white gown, a crown of lingonberry twigs and candles symbolizing charity, compassion and light.
The Declaration of Christmas Peace in Turku – December 24
A tradition since the 1320s, The Declaration of Christmas Peace is read in Old Square at noon, marking the official beginning of Christmas. The declaration to the townspeople includes humanitarian and ecumenical messages as well as holiday cheer. The present-day Christmas Declaration was transcribed by memory by the Town Clerk after the Great Fire of Turku in the early 1800s. The Declaration has been aired on radio since 1935 and televised since 1983.