Kolumni: A Peaceful Christmas & Hauskaa Joulua!
I don’t know about you but, in my house, the countdown to Christmas started many weeks ago. The fact our children are all teenagers now, does not reduce the excitement. Conversations started in October with my 14 year old daughter asking: When can we start listening to Christmas music? What Christmas movie to watch first? Her answers: the 1st of November, and The Holidate.
One big difference between Christmas in Finland and the UK can be illustrated with two words; ‘rauhallista’ and ‘merry’. Finns wish each other a peaceful holiday, while Brits look forward to a day of celebration and ‘making merry’. In Finland, the big day is the 24th December, while in the UK it is the 25th. When my children were small, this was an easy way to explain how Joulupukki could deliver gifts to children all around the world – he started in Finland on the 24thand reached the UK on the 25th.
Christmas Day started with the excitement waking early to see if Santa had visited. One time, I annoyed my parents by waking at 4:00, sorry Mum. We would open most of our presents before breakfast and then wait for other family members to join us for Christmas dinner. I vividly remember that the menfolk would go to the pub at lunchtime for a couple of drinks, while Mum stayed home to prepare dinner. We usually sat down about 15:00, so we never watched Queen Elizabeth give her traditional Christmas speech on TV.
In the evening, our house would attract various grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for a lively get-together. My Dad would stand near his drinks cabinet, taking the role of barman and making sure everyone had plenty of drinks. Soon, some of my friends whose family had a quieter Christmas, would join us in the evening. One year, we had 30 people in my parent small, terraced house (rivitalo) for a game of bingo with a top prize of £25 – I remember it clearly, because I won!
The 26th of December is known as Boxing Day – the day that the aristocratic families gave their servants holiday, and a Christmas bonus of money in a small box. For me, this day is about going to watch a traditional, Boxing Day football match, either Wimbledon FC or Fulham FC. Often this would be a derby against a local team, to encourage as many people to attend as possible. It was also a great opportunity to get out into the cold, fresh air and clear your head.
However you spend Christmas this year, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and rauhallista joulua. Let’s hope 2021 is MUCH better than 2020.