December 23, 2019 9:44 am Leave your thoughts
OK, virtual tours only – but it’s getting closer to the Big Day, and what better country to think about today than The Home Of Santa Himself! Lapland (which covers the parts of Finland and Sweden up by the Arctic Circle) has done a fine job of making itself synonymous with Christmas. We might not all be able to take a husky-ride under the Northern Lights to an ice-hotel this December, but we can still celebrate Christmas like the Finns….
Finnish Food for Christmas
We’re all about food at Naturally Good Food, so we’ll be starting our trip at the dining table. If anyone knows how to eat for the coldest, darkest months of the year, it’s the Finns. With darkness covering the land for all but a couple of hours a day, they understand the importance of heart-warming, belly-filling stews and bakes – as well as the need, just once a year, to push the boat out with a fantastic feast.
The food festivities begin on Christmas Eve: as in much of Europe, this is the most important day of Christmas. So let’s start with breakfast! Finns like to drink plum juice and eat rice pudding (riisipuuro) for a traditional Christmas breakfast. Warm, creamy, mixed with cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg, it’s good enough for Goldilocks and the three bears. Don’t forget – if you want to do things properly – to put a single whole almond in the pot of rice pudding. Whoever finds it in their bowl will have good luck for the whole year (and a slightly slimy almond). Here’s the kind of recipe that pulls no punches in terms of Christmas calories:
If you fancy a slightly lighter version, then you might like to use one of our dairy-free milks in it.
Because no-one can move after a bowl of rice pudding, the Finns then hold off until the evening, when the main meal is served. There’s a fair amount of fish in the traditional dinner: salt fish, smoked salmon, fish roe and herring, for instance, as well as ham and various vegetables. Mixed beetroot salad is a popular option and rutabaga (a type of turnip) casserole gets everyone quite excited (well, it does contain nutmeg, eggs and golden syrup too….).
Here are a couple of traditional Finnish Christmas dishes for you to try:
What’s for pudding? More rice pudding, apparently, along with some spiced plum jam. Or perhaps, some gingerbread cookies (piparkakut) instead?
Don’t forget the reindeer and huskies either. Animals get their own Christmas feast in Finland – farmers might hang a sheaf of wheat on a tree for the birds, or bags of nuts and suet on the branches. Larger animals can expect a special helping of something nice in their nosebags.
Not everything revolves around food, of course. There’s a tree to haggle over, a whole house to clean and the traditional ‘peace of Christmas’ message to listen to on TV.
One particularly interesting Finnish tradition is the Christmas Eve trip to the cemetery. It’s customary to pop in on deceased family members and leave candles in hanging lanterns around the grave. In the dark and the snow, this makes for a very atmospheric trip.
Or…you could just have a sauna!
Last up, is a visit from the Christmas Goat (Joulupukki), with his sack of presents. And after all that excitement, Christmas Day is a much quieter affair.
You’re probably not going to make it to Lapland this year – and you might be having a thoroughly British Christmas instead. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re eating, we wish you ‘Buorit Juovllat’ – Happy Christmas!
Tags: arctic circle, christmas, cinnamon, dairy-free milk, Finland, Finnish baked ham recipe, finnish food, gingerbread cookies recipe, lanttulaatikko, lapland, mixed beetroot salad recipe, non-dairy milk, nutmeg, Nuts, piparkakut, reindeer, rice pudding, riisipuuro, rutabaga casserole recipe, suet, whole almond
This post was written by Yzanne