Easter is religious holiday and it is celebrated on the day of resurrection of Jesus. However, many of the Easter traditions are not related to religion. Easter is celebrated in the spring and the celebrations usually start from Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday children decorate willow branches and knock on neighbors’ doors to wish good luck and happiness in exchange of sweets. People calm down for Easter on Good Friday as Maundy Thursday is usually normal weekday for workers. Easter is usually celebrated at home with family, but Easter is also time of winter holidays. Especially ski centers are crowded during this time.
Some traditional dishes are enjoyed during Easter. Finland’s Easter speciality is called mämmi, which is a dark, porridge like dish made out of malt and rye flour and it is accompanied by sugar and milk or cream. Pasha is another sweet dish which is enjoyed during Easter time. Pasha consists usually of quark and cream but there are multiple variations. The dinner table on Easter is decorated with ryegrass, daffodils, tulips, painted Easter eggs, Easter chicks or Easter bunnies.
May Day is celebrated on first of May, in Finland also on May Day eve, and it is celebrated especially by baccalaureates and university students as well as workers as it is the International Worker’s Day. Working people have historically organized parades and demonstrations for bettering the conditions of workers. Nowadays, at least in Finland, the worker’s parades are usually focused on music and having fun.
Baccalaureates and university students, especially teekkarit (students of technical fields in Tampere University of Technology) celebrate on May Day. Baccalaureates wear their graduation caps and teekkarit wear their similar cap with a tassel. The highlight of May Day is when the first year teekkari students are dipped to the cold rapids of Tammerkoski.
May Day is traditionally celebrated with brunch or picnic among friends and family. Traditional dishes of May Day in Finland are mead, Finnish doughnut and funnel cake as well as sparkling wine or champagne. People gather in city center to watch parades and other events and it is usual to find a lot of happy people on the streets of Tampere.
Midsummer is celebrated for the light, nightless night and summer. Midsummer has been historically a celebration of ancient religions in Finland but it is also celebrated in Catholic Church on John the Baptist’s birthday.
Finnish midsummer is traditionally celebrated with friends and family at summer cottages near the forest and lakes. Going to sauna and swimming are usually part of midsummer festivities as well as delicious food, mostly barbecue dishes.
In history midsummer has been seen as the time of magic, spells and spirits and it was not odd to find unexpected things to happen on midsummer night. Midsummer bonfires were lit to banish bad spirits and to gain good crops and it has maintained it’s position as tradition even though people and beliefs have changed.
Midsummer decorations around the house are usually wild flowers from the woods and young birches. Birches embellish doorways to bring good luck. In Aland and Swedish-speaking areas of Finland it is also a tradition to decorate maypoles.
Independence of Finland is celebrated on Independence Day 6th of December with grace and dignity. Finns show respect to the veterans who made independence possible by paying a visit to the soldier’s graves and by lighting blue and white candles on the windowsill.
The highlight of Independence day is the President’s party organized in the President’s official residence at Kruunuhaka in Helsinki. The party is widely followed via television in Finland, because the guests are remarkable Finnish persons in different fields such as sports, politics and culture.
In Tampere public event for all citizens is organized in the city center. Kansanjuhla ,as Finns call it, offers musical acts, speeches and spectacular firework show. Independence day is also celebrated with good food in restaurants and at home.
Christmas is celebrated on the birthday of Jesus and the holiday has religious roots. The most important day of Christmas in Finland is 24th of December, when people gather around to celebrate with family and friends.
Christmas presents are delivered by Santa Claus under the decorated spruce tree. Other common decorations are candles, elfs, Christmas lights as well as Christmas flowers like poinsettia, amaryllis and hyacinth. It is also common to wear a red pointy elf hat like the one on Santa Claus.
Sauna is a part of Christmas traditions and some families also go to Christmas church. Food and dinner is also a part of Christmas. Traditional dishes in Finland are different casseroles made out of potato, swede, beetroot, carrot and liver. Fish is also enjoyed and prepared different ways. The star of the dinner table is usually Christmas ham. Traditional sweet dishes during Christmas time are gingerbread cookies, Christmas porridge and plum jam filled pastries.
New year is celebrated on New year’s Eve on 31st of December and on New Year’s Day on 1st of January. In Finland the celebrations concentrate on New Year’s Eve. New Year is usually celebrated with friends at home or in the city.
The most common tradition of New Year is fireworks, inherited from the Chinese culture. In Finland it is not allowed to sell fireworks to under aged children. Fireworks are lit between 6 pm and 2 am between 31.12-1.1. At midnight people are wishing happiness to each other for the new year while toasting sparkling wine or champagne.
Nowadays traditional food linked to New Year are frankfurters and potato salad. It also common to enjoy the evening in a restaurant and continue the celebrations in a bar or nightclub.