06 Oct Episode 74 7 Surprising Ways to Celebrating Nordic Christmas
7 Surprising Ways to Celebrating Nordic Christmas
I have put 7 Surprising Ways to Celebrating Nordic Christmas together just for you. Have I said the C word? Yes the Christmas word. Less than 100 days to Christmas. Are you ready? Getting panicky? Thinking about all those things you need to get ready, presents to kids, family, food the lot? No panic. So that you can enjoy the festive season with grace and color and embrace end celebrate Nordic Christmas knowing where these traditions came from. This way you can celbrate Nordic Christmas.
1. When to Celebrate Nordic Christmas?
In the western countries it is celebrated on Christmas Day 25th December when Father Christmas has been and delivered presents and we have Christmas lunch. Well, in Scandinavian countries the Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December, on the eve of Christmas Day. That is the day when Father Christmas (joulupukki) comes to bring presents on the evening laid under the Christmas tree. You also gather to have Christmas dinner with family, sauna and visit the graveyards to leave a candle for the love ones.
2. Joulu, Jul, Jol, Yule comes from pagan holiday Yule
Although Christmas has Christian tradition and it is celebrated on the 24th December it is based on the days-long feast that was perhaps the most important celebration of the year, the winter solstice by the pagans. It was a turning point, the longest and darkest time of the year before the new year and start of the new season.
3. Santa Lucia and Advent
The Nordic countries began the Christmas celebrations early. First Advent in the end of November the Advent wreath of spruce and red berries, the first candle of four it, one lit every Sunday leading up to Christmas is started. The Advent is celebrated in all Nordic Countries. In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and in Finland it is called the Santa Lucia’s Day. December 13th is celebrated with church service and girls dressed to white dress with the wreath and four candles are observed.
4. The Gnome, Joulutonttu, Nisse or Yule Lads
The gnome has many meanings in Nordic folklore. In Finland, the joulutonttu peeps through the windows to see if the kids are nice or naughty and report back to Father Christmas (Joulupukki). In Sweden, Norway and Denmark Nisse the mischievous gnome starts visiting kids 12 days before Christmas, leaving presents for the kids in their slippers. Mean while Iceland, the Yule lads are mischievous and might leave a potato if the kids have been naughty instead presents
5. The Christmas Goat (Joulupukki)
We make these from straw as Christmas decorations to the table. But the goat have a different meaning as its origins goes to the pagan god Thor and its chariot pulling goats. The goat is transformed to a character who punishes people who had not cleaned their house ready for Christmas. Later the Christmas Goat transformed to Joupukki, like it is called in Finland. Briging presents to nice children like it does even today centuries before it was called Father Christmas or Santa Claus. So Joulupukki is the one and only Father Christmas according to Finns who celebrate Nordic Christmas.
6. The Christmas Sauna (joulusauna)
We need to talk about the sauna as it is centre of Finnish culture. Joulusauna is taken on the eve of 24th December. You gather together with your family before the dinner to cleans yourself and Sauna is believed to be the place free of bad spirits. To keep the Saunatonttu (saunagnome) happy you offer him some Christmas porridge after a sauna on a plate.
7. Christmas Food
Every Nordic country has their own delicious food for this season. But there are similarities as well. Gravalax this cold smoked salmon is eaten in all Nordic in different form. There is plenty of meat on the table. In olden days the meat was cured, smoked, dried to be served on Christmas table. Today the Christmas feast has mainly pork in different formation, roasted in Norway, Denmark Sweden and Finland. Smoked lamb in Iceland or grouse with berry sauce. There are lots of different kind of pickled herring in the table. Rye bread, carrot and swede casserole in Finland.
This feast of food is bigger than Thanksgiving in US. The food lasts few days after the Christmas when you make soups from the left overs or freeze what ever you can to be eaten later.
What You Can Do to Have Nordic Christmas
There are plenty of ways to incorporate these surprising ways to celebrating Nordic Christmas to your festive time. We live in the warm climate so we have Christmas on 24th eve when we have the big dinner with family. I tell Joulupukki comes on the 24th December . Then on Christmas Day we celebrate some more, and eat some more. We incorporate the advent on every Sunday before Christmas we bake some Finnish Christmas tarts, gingerbread ready for Christmas. Kids are told about the joulutunttu (gnome) lead up to Christmas telling kids they better be nice or no presents from Joulupukki (father Christmas).
There are many ways how you can make your Christmas feel more Nordic and some candles, nice Nordic Christmas music, and enjoying for what you have will make you feel less stressed about Christmas and more connected to the celebrations.
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