The name for Santa Claus in Finnish is “Joulupukki”. The literal translation is “Joulu=Christmas, pukki=goat”. “Joulu” is derived from Yule, a pagan midwinter festival celebrated by North Germanic peoples. “Pukki” is a word derived from Old-Germanic word “bock” (buck or male goat in modern English). The main reason for this is the Yule Goat which is an old Northern European tradition originated in Germanic pagan beliefs.
The concept of Joulupukki goes back to pagan days in Northern Europe. Although Finnish people had a belief system of shamanism rather than the pagan gods of the Vikings, the Swedish Kingdom ruled Finland between 12th and 18th centuries, so Finland borrowed many traditions from Christianity in this period. Pagans used to have festivities to honour the return of the sun after the polar nights and some believe Joulupukki is the earliest form of present-day Santa. Most theorists believe when Christianity began incorporating Pagan ways into their festivals in order to justify the action, they merged the Pagan figure with an already existing Catholic legend known as Saint Nicholas to create Santa Claus.
Send a postcard to Santa
There are many different stories about Santa Claus and where he was born, but there is one thing that cannot be disputed, Santa lives in Finland! The other point the majority of people are missing is that it is possible to meet him in person all year round. Santa’s official office, situated on the mysterious Arctic Circle, is open to each and everyone. Even the official airline of Santa Claus is Finnair.
Open each day of the year in the city of Rovaniemi, children and adults can visit Santa’s office, enjoy a private chat with him and revel in the enchanted atmosphere. Santa Claus’s post office receives hundreds of thousands of letters annually from all around the world. Santa can be reached at the following address: Santa Claus, Santa Claus’s Main Post Office, 96930 Napapiiri, Finland.
During the Christmas period, Finns like to take things slow and enjoy the company of loved ones. The natural atmosphere is a key element for a true Finnish Christmas. White landscapes enshrouded in darkness, only lit by the stars in the sky, ice lanterns and candles set the mood for a peaceful cosy festive season. For most Finns, the family home is the preferred venue for spending Christmas, but families sometimes go to a cottage (mökki) or lakeside house in the countryside.
Food definitely plays a central part in Christmas celebrations in Finland. Pork roast is the main dish in most households and various types of fish, casseroles and salads are served with it. The most authentic Christmas Eve breakfast is rice pudding. After a couple of Christmas ales, carols are sung with gusto. Sweet pastries, cakes and biscuits are Finnish Christmas treats loved by people of all ages. One of the most cherished tasks of Christmas is decorating gingerbread, often to be hung on the branch of a beautiful spruce tree. “Glögi”, a type of mulled wine, is a favoured hot drink made out of red wine or red juice of some sort, mixed with spices like cardamom and cinnamon, then served with raisins and almonds. At the end of the night a Christmas sauna relaxes both body and soul.
The scents of freshly baked ginger biscuits, spicy mulled wine and wood-fired sauna may be the most common highlights of Finnish Christmas. In Finland, Christmas Eve is the main event of the holidays, and the night Santa comes with his presents. It is spent with the family, decorating the tree, drinking “glögi” and doing the quintessential Finnish thing, bathing in a Christmas sauna.