Finland is famous for Christmas, this we know, but how does an American couple with minimal friends celebrate this most festive of days in Rovaniemi? Let me show you!
Step 1: Moomin-themed chocolate advent calendar! Because what’s better than getting a little chocolate infusion every day to brighten up the season, eh?!
Step 2: Tiny, LED-lit tree with a smattering of Finnish ornaments! Finns have a couple of national crafts, and straw-ornaments are one of them. I bought an assortment of small ones for our tree, and then a few felted items (another of Finland’s favorite pastimes), and Brandon sprung for a Marimekko bird ornament.
Step 3: Visit to the one-and-only REAL Santa Claus, who lives on the Arctic Circle boundary just north of town! This is the photo that Brandon and I took with the Big Man – Brandon was slightly less than enthused to be there (notice how he refused to actually sit next to the man), but I clearly made up for it in my excitement!
(2) reindeer chili on the 23rd and 24th (b always makes a ton),
and (3) a reindeer roast for the holiday itself! We also made cauliflower, potatoes, and a traditional Finnish carrot and rice casserole thing. And Brandon went all-out on our European adventure foods and made Yorkshire pudding, which is nothing like what it sounds like, but was more like muffin cups of french toast…
For dessert I made apple turnovers, and the Finnish joulutorttu (Christmas pastry) with puff pastry and prune filling.
Brandon and I didn’t really do presents for each other this year, so the only things we actually had to open were a few small items from friends in the states, and a pair of presents from my Rovaniemi friend Minna (she gave us some truly awesome hand-knitted Finnish socks!), so we got to really focus on the food and TV aspects of the holiday. Finns are self-proclaimed couch potatoes for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and this is one tradition I’m not having a difficult time adopting. I did make Brandon kick-sled with me to the store for supplies, though, despite the negative temperatures.