Living in Finland

Cities

Suomalaiset juhlapyhät

Finnish holidays

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.

This page briefly describes some Finnish holidays. More information on the flag days is available on the University of Helsinki Almanac Office website. Read more about Christian celebrations on the website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

linkkiUniversity Almanac Office:
Flag Days and Holidays in FinlandFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiEvangelical Lutheran Church of Finland:
Kristilliset pyhäpäivätFinnish | Swedish

New Year

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

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.

Valentine’s Day

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

Shrovetide starts the preparation for Easter. On Shrove Tuesday, Finns go sledding and eat shrove buns, which contain, among other things, whipped cream.

Easter

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.

Ascension Day

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

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.

Mother’s Day

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

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.

Father’s Day

In Finland, Father’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of November. Fathers are treated with all kinds of gifts.

Independence Day

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

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.