Hauska Joulua!
Merry Christmas in Finnish!


My family keep Finnish Christmas traditions which have come down through the ages because they are so reasonable: for instance; When on Christmas Eve at 6 pm the Bishop of Finland announces on radio and TV: ‘Joulu Raha', Christmas Peace. From the moment until 4 pm on Christmas Day: Men can't get drunk, Kids can't fight, women don't harp and scold. Of course when 4 o'clock comes on Christmas Day -- life goes back to normal.


In ancient times before Christianity, a horns sounded to announce Winter Solstice the longest night of the year. Even today they say that Joulu Tontti, the Christmas Elf blows his long horn in the deep woods to warn all evil spirits and the hounds of the long hunt to keep away: the Finns are celebrating Christmas.


The ancient purification rites that we still use today start weeks ahead of time: scrubbing the house clean, the sauna (or now a days: baths)and special foods.


To bake Joulu Pulla (Christmas Buns) you start with a pound of butter and 12 eggs and lots of cardamom seeds. I bake brought some of Nissus and Nussus — cookies for the children shaped like reindeer and stars with secret symbols.


The Nissus and Nussus Cookies are for the children but also to leave as treats for the Tonttus the kitchen elf, the sauna elf and especially for the children' room elf - children shake out their slippers in the morning in case the elf is sleeping there.


My grandfather Kukki was a carver and he made wooden crosses - a new one each Christmas -the last year's cross was used to light the yule log.


All sings of work was put away - My gramma Mummu was always at her spinning wheel until Christmas came -then her spinning wheel was hung on a hook in a corner of the ceiling and covered with a white sheet.


Another good custom is Pikku Joulu - Little Christmas. These little gatherings were perhaps useful in ancient times with small crowded houses so the Finns would have several. My cousin Orvikki from Lapland emails that they are in the midst of Pikku Joulus as are we in my ever expending even though Ryder my latest great grand son is equal parts: Finnish, English, French, Italian, Aboriginal, Phillipino. These are family parties which include all the children so no drinking!


By 6 pm Christmas Eve all will be ready. House clean, food ready, everyone went to sauna both my sister Effie and I had saunas in our houses but now a days of course it's a shower or bath. Then we put on clean if not new clothes.


In Finland the churches fill again and again on Christmas Eve. In New Finland where I grew up we children got new clothes - I remember a red velvet dress my mother made me - we were lined up on altar steps to sing Finnish carols while we waited forJoulupukki (Santa Claus) to bring us our bags of candies and one orange.


Everyone knows Joulupukki (Santa Claus) lives in the Arctic. We didn't quite know where until an American in 1927 let the secret out - he lives in the Arctic Circle near Rovaniemi, Lapland. Yes, he lives there - my cousin Orvikki and I and a jumbo- jet full of Japanese tourists found Joulupukki sitting by the fireplace in his log cabin talking to a little blonde boy discussing the reindeer in his yard.


Another good custom my family keeps is that children open some of their presents Christmas Eve. That means that if they wake early Christmas morning they could play quietly with their new toys until rest of family woke up.


My Sister Norma married int a farming family in Morris, Manitoba. One Christmas Eve Howard who is a long distance trucker phoned that he was coming in from Toronto with a heavy load and would try to make it home for Christmas eve. Well, the all went to church came home to the good food and treats, opened the presents and still no Howard. Gramma especially was getting worried, 'that road coming through Kenora is so danger!' . People were getting coats on when suddenly one of the children watching for him at the window cried out, ''Lights coming down the driveway.' Even gramma ran to the window and hurried to put more coffee on. Such joy to have him safe home with the family Christmas Eve.


After a month long celebration of Christmas it's time to put all signs of Christmas away - the tree and decorations come down right after the 'Wisemen Come' Jan 6, the Spinning Wheel came down from the ceiling and the Hartia Paivat 'Shouldering days' - hard work Days. In New Finland it meant getting trees and work bees to cut for next year's firewood. Time to get back to work Tree after a month long celebration of Joulu - Finnish Christmas.

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Above speech I made at Toastmasters at Scan Club wearing my Finnish costume..

It was interesting that of the 5 Scandinavians each speaking of their country traditions

ours was quite distinct...

Joulupukki living in Finland was news to some!!

~Hazel Birt

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Hauska Joulua!
Merry Christmas in Finnish! was contributed by Hazel Birt
New Finland Historical and Heritage Society


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