Christmas in Finland: Snow, Glögi, and Joulupukki
Last Christmas has been different to me, in a special way.
Just to start, it has been the first one that I spent out of Italy, and there is not a better country where you can spend Christmas than Santa Claus´ one! That was not an easy decision to make, of course my financial situation in these cases always helps, though, and pushes me to make the only possible decision, but…
This year’s been different. I intentionally decided I wanted it to be the first Christmas that I was away from home but also the one that I’d forever remember as the White Finnish Christmas.
Well it's no use to say that the whole Finland drips Christmas, for real, and you can see it coming already since early November. No, I´m serious. It is like if the country is throwing Christmas vibes at you, right in “da face”. Jokes aside, here the atmosphere is really special and suggestive; In Italy it's good as well in a different way. In my homeland it's more like paying a lot of attention to celebrate with family relatives and taking care in great detail of the meals, but here the magic is that great care is taken also of every formality, every “ritual” and folkloristic side of Christmas. For instance I had the great fortune to spend Christmas in a family with two little children, this way it was even more magic; Tonttu (the mythological creature of Finnish folklore, associated with Santa’s little helper) had been bringing the gifts little by little for the pre-Christmas days and it was a joy to see the children’s happy faces realizing the gifts were multiplying under the Christmas tree day by day. As the cherry on the top of the cake, Joulupukki (Santa Claus) came in person to deliver us the gifts, after we sang for him. That I have to say, was really the thing of this Christmas! Everyone was trading gifts with each other and it felt extremely genuine: all the worries had frozen away for that moment and there were only Christmas vibes to inhale deeply.
This might be a controversial topic, so it is my concern to underline from the beginning, that it is all based on personal taste and opinions. The Finnish food that I got the chance to taste was really good: great meat, I think it was some kind of pork leg (not sure), baked through the whole night in the oven with maybe some spices, really good and tasty. I can't certainly forget about the revelation warm drink of this Christmas, Glögi: It's a warm served beverage (I didn't know and drunk it icy cold the first time lol), flavored by spices, that warms you up from inside in a really pleasant way. The most pleasant surprise has been the "Lanttulaattikko" (literally rutabaga casserole"), which I've never seen in my life but is really good. There were the traditional meatballs with mashed potatoes, a great classic but always appreciated. For the meals, everyone gathered around the table, of course, in the Finnish buffet style, but I found it kinda weird when at some point for a lunch at grandma's place we had more sweet things than salty ones.
Ironically also the weather issue went smoothly, I thought it would have been way worse, but it has been full of snow without particularly frigid temperatures, though. When it comes down to it, I'm happy that I spent my Christmas here in a different way than usual and it is a happy memory that I'll always keep in my heart.