Finnish Christmas Celebrations: Decorations

​First Christmas decorations in Finland were candles and Christmas trees, particularly spruces. University Lecturer in Folkloristics Pasi Enges notes that Christmas decorations are a rather modern development in Finnish Christmas celebrations and the Finns adopted the tradition from Germans in the late 1800s.

– Initially, the Christmas tree was a decoration in itself, but then people moved on to decorating the tree. In the early 1900s, the Christmas tree was the only decoration in the house during Christmas. Other ornaments, such as wreaths, are much more modern decorations, explains Enges.

Lighting candles as decorations was first combined with the Christmas tree, where the candles were placed solely for decoration. The custom of lighting candles became more common during the 20th century, and it was at first practiced by the wealthier families living in the cities, as candles were quite expensive. Later on, people started hanging hand-made decorations, such as glass ornaments.

At the Finnish countryside, Christmas trees were decorated with what was at hand; straw, egg shells, paper strips or pieces of cotton. The contrast between the wealthy city folk and the poorer families at the country side was great, which naturally reflects on the decorating traditions.

– Spreading straw on the floor during Christmas time is a unique tradition in the Nordic countries, which was also practiced widely in Finland. Spreading straw was decorative, but also related to different superstitious beliefs and later to religion.

In addition, after Finland gained its independent in 1917, strings with miniature national flags were used as Christmas tree decorations.

Finnish Christmas decoration traditions have evolved from different cultures and adapted to new customs through decades. Today, as in most countries, Christmas decorations in Finland come in all colours, shapes and sizes.


Most Finnish cities decorate main streets and parks with lights at Christmas time. In addition to other decorations throughout the city, the City of Turku decorates the duck pond at the Kupittaa Park.

Earlier in the feature:
>>Finnish Christmas Celebrations: Advent

Main photo: SJ

Second photo: MR

Text: Jenni Maja

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Published date 12/14/2017 10:00 AM ,  Modified date 12/15/2017 2:31 PM

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