Celebration days

Itsenäisyyspäivä (Independence Day)

Finland declared independence from the Russian Empire on 6 December 1917. The country's Independence Day celebrations on this date are traditionally quite solemn. Students, for example, organize torchlight processions. In the evening, many people watch the live TV broadcast from the presidential palace showing festivities attended by distinguished guests from Finland and around the world.

Joulu/Uusivuosi (Christmas/New year)

In the Nordic countries, the most important Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, 24 December. Finnish traditions include the Christmas sauna, a visit to the cemetery, and the preparation of Christmas dinner, which includes time-honored delicacies such as pickled herring, smoked salmon, roe, casseroles of potato, carrot and turnip, Christmas ham, a cold dessert of puréed plums, and cinnamon biscuits.

The highlight of the evening comes when Santa knocks on the door. His words are always the same: "Are there any well-behaved children here?" Naturally, in every home there are only good children and they all receive presents. Christmas Day is a time for rest and relaxation and eating food left over from Christmas Eve. Often people wait until Boxing Day, 26 December, to pay visits to friends and relatives.

Pääsiäinen (Easter)

Easter is a 4-day long weekend in either March or April. Finnish families plant grass in small pots and it is common to bring home a few birch twigs a week or two before Easter, so that by Easter time, the birch twigs are budding. Another Easter tradition in Finland you might see is children walking from door to door dressed as "Easter witches" and handing out decorated willow branches asking for treats or a few coins in exchange. A traditional Easter dessert is "mämmi". Mämmi is usually served with cream and sprinkled with sugar. Easter Friday and Easter Monday are days when shops will be closed so make sure you stock up on all necessities.

Vappu (May Day)

The Vappu celebration is typically centred on plentiful sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages. One tradition is drinking homemade mead (sima)  along with freshly cooked donuts. The festivities also include a picnic on 1 May, which is sometimes prepared in a lavish manner, particularly in Ullanlinnanmäki in Helsinki city. For most, the picnic is enjoyed with friends on a blanket with good food and sparkling wine.

Vappu is the biggest celebration of the year for university students. You will notice that particularly the students of technology in Aalto University will start preparing for Vappu several weeks in advance. Make sure to take part in the events and festivities the students organise in April-May.

Juhannus (Midsummer)

Celebrated throughout Scandinavia, Midsummer is the celebration of the Summer Solstice which marks the longest day of the year. The major Midsummer festivities in Finland and Sweden take place on Midsummer's Eve, the Friday preceding the Midsummer Day. The Midsummer's Eve is a public holiday; stores are only open part of the day. Many Finns like to spend Midsummer in the countryside. Often people head for their cottages and summer cabins, leaving towns and cities deserted. On Midsummer night typically the sauna is heated and family and friends are invited to bath and to barbeque. Swedish-speaking Finns often celebrate by erecting a maypole.

Summer festivals and competitions

Finland has many summer music festivals ranging from rock and pop to jazz and classical music. There are also a few film festivals such as the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä (in Lapland) in June. Many quirky competitions are held in Finland during the summer such as the Wife Carrying Championships, the Air Guitar World Championships, and the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships. You can find out more information about these from the Finnish Tourist Board.

 Public holidays 2016–2017

31 October All Saints Day
6 December Independence Day
24 December Christmas Eve
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day
1 January (2017) New Year’s Day
6 January Epiphany
14 April Good Friday*
16 April Easter Day*
17 April Easter Monday*
1 May May Day
25 May Ascension Day*
4 June Whit Sunday
24 June Midsummer Day*
  * Date varies yearly

 Public holidays 2017–2018

31 October All Saints Day
6 December Independence Day
24 December Christmas Eve
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day
1 January (2018) New Year’s Day
6 January Epiphany
30 March Good Friday*
1 April Easter Day*
2 April Easter Monday*
1 May May Day
10 May Ascension Day*
4 June Whit Sunday
23 June Midsummer Day*
  * Date varies yearly