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22 Ways Finland Wins Christmas

You won't find anywhere more beautiful at this time of year.

1. A lot of people insist on calling this stuff snow.

2. But unless your icicles do this...

Steve Brocklebank / Flickr: brocksuk

3. And your trees look like this...

4. And your snowmen are this big, it doesn't count.

5. And although such heavy snow can make it difficult for Finns to get their cars started...

6. Once they get going, they're allowed to drive on lakes.

Yep. When lakes in Finland freeze over, they become public roads. The longest is 7kms and it crosses Lake Pielinen.

7. And if they don't fancy driving, they can always rent out husky-drawn sleighs.

8. Of course, huskies aren't the only animals that work throughout Finnish winters.

That's a reindeer. He's a police reindeer. AWH.

9. This guy employs a fair few reindeer too.

Visit Finland / Flickr: visitfinland

His name is Joulupukki and he lives in Lapland (that's the top bit of Finland).

10. And because he lives so near by, Finns get their presents a day early.

Santa visits every house, in person, after dinner on Christmas Eve. And that's when presents are opened.

11. In fact, Christmas Eve is the main day Finns celebrate on.

Rachel Ellen / Flickr: aricee

12. They start the day with a hearty bowl of rice pudding.

frozenreindeer / Flickr: frozenreindeer

With a single almond hidden in it. If you get it, you'll have good luck for a year.

13. After lunch there's always a sauna visit, followed by a dip in a lake.

15. Ice lanterns are big in Finland.

Visit Finland / Flickr: visitfinland

So if you go for an afternoon walk, you'll see them everywhere. And because the sun sets at 3pm, they always look magical.

16. It's traditional to burn advent candles as you eat dinner.

Which usually involves a ham roast served with mustard, salt-cured salmon and rutabaga casserole (which is kind of a cross between turnip and cabbage casserole).

17. What's for pudding? YUMMY SCRUMMY PRUNE TARTS.

Elaine Ashton / Flickr: hfb

18. And leipajuusto. Which, BTW, is the best thing in the world.

Jonas Forth / Flickr: jforth

That's cheese that you cook in the oven and eat with cloudberry jam. It squeaks in your teeth.

19. In some parts of Finland, you can rent out globes to sleep in and watch the Northern Lights.

20. Which is the most breath-taking thing.

21. Also, the Moomins love Christmas.

Elaine Ashton / Flickr: hfb

22. Look at these little elves! Finland wins Christmas.

Visit Finland / Flickr: visitfinland

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