Finnish Christmas Celebrations: Declaration of Christmas Peace
​Protocol Services Manager Mika Akkanen declared the Christmas peace in 2016.

The tradition of declaring peace on Christmas time has its roots in old Nordic law. The tradition originated from the Swedish Kingdom during the Middle Ages, when Finland was under Swedish rule. Christmas peace was first declared in Turku in the 1300s, and it has been declared at the Old Great Square since the 1800s. The declaration has been read from the same location at the Brinkkala house balcony since 1886.

– The declaration of peace marked Christmas as a special time period. As declaring peace was part of the law, people who committed crimes during that time received harsher punishments. Especially in the cities, people wanted to have a calm atmosphere during Christmas time, which is why the declaration was highly respected, says University Lecturer in Folkloristics Pasi Enges.

Each year, Christmas peace is declared on Christmas Eve at 12pm. Many people gather to listen to the declaration in Turku, and listening to the declaration on the radio or watching it from television is a nation-wide custom. The declaration was originally proclaimed in Swedish, but today it is read both in Finnish and Swedish and its current form dates back to 1903.

Each year, thousands of people gather on the Old Great Square at Christmas to hear the Christmas Peace.

According to Enges, the tradition has been interrupted only on a few occasions when the conditions have been deemed unsafe, such as during the Winter War in 1939. Even though the declaration has not been a part of the law for over a century, it is an important tradition for many Finns, and settles the nation into peaceful Christmas celebration.

Earlier in the feature:

>> Finnish Christmas Celebrations: Advent

>> Finnish Christmas Celebrations: Decorations

>> Finnish Christmas Celebrations: Christmas Tree of Turku Cathedral

Photos: City of Turku, Kari Vainio 

Text: Jenni Maja

Published date 12/21/2017 1:45 PM ,  Modified date 12/21/2017 1:51 PM

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