Christmas in Finland is celebrated with a national declaration, saunas, family and gifts. Unlike many countries, the focus in Finland is placed more heavily on Christmas Eve, December 24th, than Christmas Day. The majority of Finnish citizens tune into the live broadcast from the capital city, Turku, at noon on Christmas Eve, to hear the official Declaration of Christmas Peace:
Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behaviour shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city
The declaration marks the official start of Christmas celebrations and kicks off a national 20-day peace period. Citizens are encouraged to behave peacefully and engage in calm activities/behavior. As mentioned in the declaration, those who commit crimes during this period are dealt with more harshly than other times of the year.
Sauna fun tops the Christmas list most Finnish natives. To the Finnish people, time in the sauna is a welcomed ancient custom that began in the 13th century. It all began as a tale of ancestral spirits bathing in the saunas after sunset on Christmas Eve. Over time, healing properties were discovered and became a prime benefit of the custom, often being referred to as a ‘Holy Place’ for its ability to aid in healing the body.