I have always loved Christmas and I am sure I always will. The most important thing for me is being together with the family, relaxing, playing games, enjoying scrumptious food and lots of chocolate. As I have spent most of my Christmases in Finland, there are some traditional Finnish features that will always be part of the festive season in my family.
In Finland you traditionally bake the gingerbread on the Independence Day, the 6th of December. I must say I have rarely managed to be that organised, so my daughters and I have baked them usually about a week before Christmas. For those of you that are familiar with the Moomin characters – if you take a close look, you will notice that the one in the top middle is the Moominpappa.
The candle bridge goes up on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, as does the Christmas star. However, no other Christmas lights are lit until the week before Christmas. This is the biggest difference between Finland and the UK. The decorations and lights don’t go up on the first of December, but are also not taken down in the first week of January. For us the Christmas starts a few days before Christmas Eve and then goes on for 20 days. This means that we keep our Christmas decorations a lot longer than what is usual in the UK
The Christmas tree is brought in just before Christmas Eve and many of our decorations are decades old, quite a few of them hand-made. The bell in the picture has been hand-painted by my aunt and my elder daughter made the little Santa when she attended nursery in Finland (maybe with a little help from the lovely ladies at her nursery).
All the Christmas presents make their way under the tree, to be handed out on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve is the big day for us. This is when Santa comes to visit, or at least he does until the children reach a certain age. Back in Finland when the girls were small Santa used to bring the gifts. Traditionally the girls would sing for him and we would all dance together. It was all very exciting! I remember one Christmas when he didn’t have time to come in, and only dropped off the presents behind the door. As usual we did have snow on Christmas Eve, so I had to do some jiggery-pokery and walking backwards in big boots to make it look like he had been behind our door 🙂
Rice pudding on Christmas Day morning
Christmas morning we have proper rice pudding for breakfast. For this you need pudding rice, milk and a tiny pinch of salt … and one hour time to slowly cook it. You can’t rush a proper rice pudding, and you do have to stir it every couple of minutes. But it is all well worth it – we eat it with a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon. I can smell it now when I am writing this!
Christmas day is for spending time with the family, playing games and relaxing together. I am not keen on the UK tradition of going to the local (=pub) on Christmas Day – a glass of mulled wine at home is my preferred option.
Snow is perhaps what I miss the most about Christmas here in the UK. When I grew up we always had a white Christmas. With snow and a little bit of cold you can make my favourite winter light features: snowball and ice lanterns. I actually managed to make the lanterns in the pictures last winter – though not during Christmas.
- For the snow ball lantern, place snowballs in a circle, leaving a gap on one side. Then build up the walls with more snowballs, narrowing the structure as you add more snowballs. Leave a gap at the very top – then put a lit candle inside it.
- For the ice lantern you need the temperature to be freezing, below 0 degrees Celsius. Fill a (metal) bucket with water and place it outside. Allow the water to freeze on top and on the sides – this is how the water freezes naturally in the bucket. Once you have the top and the sides frozen, pour out the excess water and very carefully turn the bucket upside down. Hey presto, you have just made your first ice lantern, only the candle missing!
This post is part of the ‘Christmas in Different Lands’ series, with a new post every day in December during the run up to Christmas. To read more fascinating Christmas stories visit Multicultural Kid Blogs!