Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Saint Stephen’s Day (the day after Christmas) are all significant days in Finland. Many Finns will take off 24 December through 1 January to spend time with family.
|2019||25 Dec||Wed||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Thu||2nd Day of Christmas|
|2020||25 Dec||Fri||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Sat||2nd Day of Christmas|
The biggest day of the season in Finland, is not Christmas Day but Christmas Eve. By early afternoon on Christmas Eve, most shops and other businesses will shut down, and public transport will even be hard to find.
Sometime during the evening, the Biblical Christmas Story, from Luke’s Gospel, will likely be read. The youngest child who knows how to read normally is assigned the role. After dinner, “Joulupukki,” the Finnish version of Old Saint Nick, arrives and gives presents.
The name “Joulupukki” is literally rendered “Christmas Goat.” This is because a goat used to frighten people and demand they hand over their presents in earlier Finnish Christmas tradition, but then Joulupukki had a change of heart and started giving out presents instead. He never lost his original name, however.
On Christmas Day, most people just relax at home and recover from the previous night’s business. Others, however, get up early, attend Christmas morning church services, and rest at home later. On 26 December, Saint Stephen’s Day, people visit relatives, maybe even some who live far away or whom they have not seen for some time. It is also common to go ice skating or skiing on Saint Stephen’s Day.