06 Oct 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 and celebrate Nordic Christmas knowing where these traditions came from. These are the ways we celebrate 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 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. These are laid under the Christmas tree and you actually get to meet Father Christmas. You also gather to have Christmas dinner with family, have a sauna and visit the graveyards to leave a candle for the love ones who are not with you.
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 lit. One will be lit every Sunday leading up to Christmas. The Advent is celebrated in all Nordic Countries. In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and in Finland it is called 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 reports 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. Meanwhile in 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 has 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 (christmas goat if translated from word to word) 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 in the western countries.So Joulupukki is the one and only Father Christmas according to Finns who celebrate Nordic Christmas. Click To Tweet
6. The Christmas Sauna (joulusauna)
We need to talk about the sauna as it is centre of Finnish culture. Joulusauna (christmas sauna) 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 cold smoked salmon is eaten in all Nordic countries in a different forms. There is plenty of meat on the table. In olden days the meat was cured, smoked or 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 Christmas when you make soups from the leftovers or freeze whatever 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 a warm climate so we have Christmas on the 24th December evening when we have the big dinner with family. I tell Joulupukki comes on the 24th of December . Then on Christmas Day we celebrate some more, and eat some more. We incorporate the Advent on every Sunday before Christmas as we bake some Finnish Christmas tarts or 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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