New Year is celebrated everywhere in Finland in a carnival spirit. In Seinäjoki, people usually gather in the Civic Square at the Aalto Centre, where the turn of the year is solemnized with speeches and fireworks. Students celebrate New Year in general in bars and nightclubs, so you better be prepared for some queuing.
Good Friday in the Holy Week is a day off. The Holy Week ends with two holidays so that Monday is Easter Monday. Many people travel to Lapland to ski downhill on sunny slopes. There are several traditional dishes for Easter, for example one Finnish specialty is mämmi. It is brown, sweet and thick malt pudding, which is eaten with sugar and cream. At Easter people start to wait for the summer and therefore you may see green grass (rye-grass) grown on small plates by children on window sills.
Here in Ostrobothnia, small Easter witches (“trulli”) are an essential part of the local Easter traditions. They go from door to door wishing people good luck with willow twigs. Remember to reward a “trulli” with sweets. In addition, on Easter Saturday, bonfires are lit all over the plains. Originally, this was done in order to drive evil spirits away. Easter also has a strong religious atmosphere.
The First of May
The First of May is an important day among students. It is difficult for you to avoid seeing the festivities of the First of May because it is celebrated in the whole country at the same time and with a lot of hilarity. In fact, it is the only "real" carnival in Finland. People go out wearing costumes, white student caps and students put on the overalls of their faculties. Moreover noisy whistles, balloons and baubles belong to the First of May. A traditional non-alcoholic beverage drunk on the First of May is mead (“sima”), which is served cool. “Tippaleipä” (a kind of fritter) is a traditional sweet May Day snack.
Midsummer is celebrated around 20 and 24 June, the date always being a weekend. The Friday in the Midsummer Week is Midsummer Eve and therefore a day off. At Midsummer, especially in the north, the sun descends near the horizon, but it doesn’t set. For this reason, the nights are as light as days. Midsummer is therefore called the "Holiday of the Nightless Night". People celebrate Midsummer at their summer cottages barbecuing and going to the sauna. High bonfires, called ’juhannuskokko’, are lit on lakes. People stay awake the whole night from Friday evening till Saturday morning enjoying the light of the night. They go inside only in case of rain. Youngsters also celebrate Midsummer at the big rock festivals.
The Finnish Independence Day is celebrated on 6th of December. It is a national holiday and a day off. In the evening, two candles are lit in Finnish homes and placed in the window. People also watch TV to see the traditional Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace and a ball, which the national elite has been invited to attend.
Christmas is celebrated among the family, in the same manner as in other Christian countries. Christmas Eve, 24 December, is a day off, like Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Christmas dishes, Christmas sauna, church and presents can be mentioned as examples of typical Finnish Christmas traditions. Traditional dishes are rice pudding, ham, different casseroles, salad and a beet-based salad. On Christmas Eve night, after sauna, Santa Claus arrives and gives presents to children (and maybe to adults as well…). On Christmas Eve, families usually take candles to the graves of the relatives. The decorated Christmas tree is a real spruce brought from forest. Santa Claus lives on the Korvatunturi mountain in the Finnish Lapland and sets off with a reindeer sleigh to visit families. On Christmas Day (25 December), many families go to a Christmas service. The service starts as early as 7 in the morning. On Boxing Day and Twelfth Day/Epiphany, people visit their and/or in different exercises.