The roots of many Finnish holidays lie in Christianity. Some of the holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are public holidays. Many shops and offices are closed during these holidays. One way to mark a holiday is to fly the flag. The flag of Finland is flown on certain days that are marked in the calendar. Both official instances and private persons fly the flag on flag days. The flag of Finland is considered a solemn item.
New Year’s Eve, 31 December, is the last day of the year. Firework displays are organised. Rockets can also be purchased from shops. Specific time limits have been set for firing rockets.
Epiphany, 6 January, marks the end of Christmas. The holiday commemorates the three wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus.
J.L. Runeberg Day
Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) is a major figure of Finnish poetry. Runeberg tortes are eaten on J.L. Runeberg day, 5 February.
On Valentine’s Day, 14 February, you can treat your friends, for example, by sending them a card or flowers. Valentine’s Day is not celebrated as prominently in Finland as it is in the United States, for example.
Shrovetide starts the preparation for Easter. On Shrove Tuesday, Finns go sledding and eat shrove buns, which contain, among other things, whipped cream.
Easter is a Christian holiday. Its exact time varies, but usually Easter is celebrated in March or April. Easter is preceded by Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, children dress up as witches and go from door to door, bringing their neighbours decorated willow twigs as blessings. It is customary to give them a small gift, such as some candy, in return.
The death of Jesus is commemorated on Good Friday. Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday. After Sunday, celebrations continue on Easter Monday, or the second Easter Day. Lamb is a traditional Finnish Easter food, as are chocolate eggs and mämmi, a traditional Easter dessert.
The roots of Ascension Day are in Christianity. It is a celebration of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. Ascension Day is celebrated 40 days after Easter.
May Day, 1 May, is a celebration of spring and labour. In Finland, May Day is celebrated in many different ways. People gather for picnics. Doughnuts and sima, a drink similar to lemonade, are enjoyed on May Day. Many also celebrate with sparkling wine. Homes are decorated with balloons and streamers. It is customary for those who have graduated upper secondary school to wear their white caps. Labourers organise May Day marches.
In Finland, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Mothers are treated by giving them gifts and flowers, for example.
Midsummer is celebrated at the end of June. Midsummer is the celebration of the middle of the summer. Many Finns prefer to spend midsummer at their holiday homes. Lighting Midsummer bonfires, or large fires, is a Finnish Midsummer tradition. Midsummer poles, similar to maypoles, are sometimes also erected in Southern Finland.
All Saints’ Day
All Saints’ Day is celebrated at the beginning of November. It is a day for commemorating the deceased. People bring candles to the graves of their loved ones. Halloween is celebrated around the same time. However, All Saints’ Day is not a carnival like Halloween, it is a solemn and quiet occasion.
In Finland, Father’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of November. Fathers are treated with all kinds of gifts.
Finland gained its independence in 1917. This is celebrated on Independence Day, 6 December. Many Finns like to watch the President’s Independence Day Reception from television.
Christmas is the most important Christian holiday celebrated in Finland. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. The main event is Christmas Eve, 24 December. It is customary to bring home a Christmas tree and decorate it. Christmas gifts are usually exchanged on Christmas Eve. Finnish Christmas includes many traditional foods such as Christmas ham, rosolli, which is a beetroot salad, different casseroles, mince pies and ginger bread. At Christmas, Finns like to sing carols and spend time with family members and other loved ones.