One beautiful Finnish tradition I’ve just learned about is declaring a Christmas peace, the joulurauha, which has roots back to the 13th century. Once this tradition was common to all the Nordic countries, but only in Finland has it been maintained, almost uninterruptedly, to this day.
In Turku, an old town which is the former capital of Finland, a special ceremony is held to declare a period of Christmas peace. This begins at noon on Christmas Eve and lasts for 20 days. The ceremony includes a hymn, the Finnish national anthem and other music. And it’s televised — many Finns watch the event on TV as the bells of Turku Cathedral ring.
- "Tomorrow, God willing,
- is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour;
- and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all,
- by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully,
- because he who
breaks this peace and violates
the peace of Christmas
- by any illegal
or improper behaviour
shall under aggravating circumstances
- be guilty
according to what the law and statutes prescribe
- for each and
every offence separately.
- Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city."
To all the world — joulurauha. And Hyvää Joulua! (Happy Christmas!)