Finnish Calendar – the Traditions

Runeberg’s day 5.2.

Johan Ludvig Runeberg was a finnish poet, teacher, journalist and professor. Finland’s national anthem, Maamme laulu, was originally a swedish poem written by Runeberg. His birthday is traditionally celebrated with a baked good Runeberg’s – tart, which was invented by his wife Fredrika Runeberg.

Shrove Tuesday (Laskiainen) Seven weeks before Easter

On Shrove Tuesday Finns go sliding. Traditional treat is a bun filled with jam and whipped cream.

Kalevalan päivä/ finnish culture day 28.2.

Finnish culture day is to celebrate Finland’s national epic, Kalevala. Kalevala was assembled by Elias Lönnrot and it’s based on Finnish-Karelian folk poetry. Kalevala tells how world was created from a bluebill’s egg and about the adventures that happened after.


Traditional decorations are yellow chicken, painted eggs and rabbits. Children dress up as witches and go from door to door with decorated wickers, saying traditional poems and getting chocolate egg for return.

Mämmi with vanilla sauce or milk and sugar is a traditional easter treat.

May day (Vappu) 1.5.

May day is the day for Finnish students. On 30.4. we put on our overalls, pack our mead bottles and doughnuts and head for a nice picnic.

There’s a ceremony in many cities, in which a special hat is placed on a special statue. In the ceremony all Finnish graduates (ylioppilas) put a similar hat on their head. The celebration lasts till 2.5.

Midsummer (Juhannus) close to summer solstice

Midsummer is a feast of a midnight sun. A huge bonfire is gathered and set on fire, young women make spells to find out their true love and sauna is full with people hitting themselves with birch whisks.

Also Moomins made Midsummer spells

Finnish Independence Day 6.12.

Independence day is probably the most serious feast for Finns. Finns visit at soldier’s graves, lay down garlands and light up candles.

Unknow soldier and Finnish defense forces have a parade are shown in television.  Graduates march through cities in a torch parade.

Two blue and white candles are light and placed in front of a window. Largest occasion is held in President’s castle, where members of the parliament, ambassadors, war veterans and other guests celebrate.

Christmas Eve 24.12.

Christmas starts, when Christmas tree is fetched and decorated. In addition to candles, traditional decorations are lanterns made of snow and special decorations made from straw.

A bunch of grains can be left outside for birds to eat.

Christmas Eve’s morning starts with rice porridge. An almond is hidden in the porridge, and who ever gets it, can make a wish.

Christmas dinner is eaten with family. Traditional Christmas food are carrot, rutabaga and potato casseroles, smoked salmon and ham.

Gingerbread and Christmas tarts are for dessert.

In evening comes Santa Claus with his presents and for him children must sing Joulupukki -song.

New Year

Finns celebrate New Year quite the same it’s celebrate all over the world. Small tin horseshoes are melted in fire and used to predict the future.

Fireworks are to be seen at midnight, glasses are raised and new years kisses given.

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