Tuesday, December 1, 2009

little christmas

On Saturday, we celebrated “Little Christmas” which is, as far as I can tell, an exclusively Finnish celebration. I looked it up and this is what I found on Wikepedia (in Swedish – it had to be translated to English):
Little Christmas (regionally also referred to as "lillajul") (Finnish: pikkujoulu) is celebrated in Finland and the Åland Islands, and occurs every year on Saturday before the first day of Advent.  Little Christmas is just like the name suggests, a foretaste of Christmas.  Lillajulgranen (the Little Christmas tree) is about 1m high and decorated just like the real Christmas tree.  The smallest children get little gifts that Santa's elves left under the Little Christmas tree. These gifts are often very simple. Later in December the lillajulgranen is replaced with the usual Christmas tree. In schools, children sing carols and eat gingerbread.
Our Little Christmas tree – why is it so hard to get a good photo of a Christmas tree???
Our local village, plus a couple other nearby ones, have further traditions . . .  instead of the gifts under the tree (or maybe in addition to, in some households?), the children pretend to be “elves” and throw bags of candies in their friends’ houses. Our kids love this, and look forward to it all autumn. Here’s how it works:
Once it’s dark enough, we head out to make the deliveries (I have to drive them because the houses are spread so far apart). I park someplace discreet and the kids sneak up to the house, open the door, shout something and throw the candy in. Then they sprint back to the car, trying to catch their breath in a fit of giggles.The key is to not get caught. The kids loved that this year I had a loaner car from the workshop, so no one would recognize us as we drove away . . .
Later, the kids had a blast trying to catch the “elves” as candy came flying in through our door . .  .
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I did manage to get a start on the Christmas decorations:
One of the kitchen windows . . . the electric candlestick is a traditional decoration in Scandinavia . . . I had the Advent candles on the table, but the kids think the wax stinks so I had to move it . . .


Carolynn and Steve said...

What a fun way to celebrate---sort of like "Trick or Treat" in reverse!
I'm going to plan on going and throwing candy into people's houses next year!


Stacy, Pat and Aidan said...

This sounds really fun! Sort of like Carnival, in a way! We would probably love this, too, but with all of our Tree lighting ceremonies and advent activities, I've been hardpressed to just include a couple of Russian traditions, too! Have a happy and reflective Advent!

Kristine said...

I have decided I am moving to Finland. Are there any houses for sale nearby?

Over-Caffeinated X 4 said...

I'm coming with Kristine... this sounds like TOO much fun... I would love to start this tradition in our neighborhood, but no one would have their door open and that would just be a real bummer. We do something similar at Halloween where you "boo" people by leaving bags of candy on their doorstep and ring the bell and run! :)

Craig and Phyllis said...

I'm in agreement with Kristine and Ondrea! Finland sounds like such a fun place to live! I think I would have some culture issues though of people just walking into our house (even if they are throwing candy)! Maybe that would help me keep it clean!!! : )

I like your advent candles, too, by the way.

Purplestamper said...

That is so cool Barb. I loved your photos and the picture of your giggling children, made me laugh too.Enjoy...did you make any cookies yet? What are your favorites???

Tezzie said...

Your kitchen window looks fab! Funny we both posted about similar traditions, without knowing the other one had also written about the same thing :D
Here in our little village, we don't have the candy throwing :(. Instead of the lillajul gifts being under the tree, though, Santa is 'spotted' outside, and gifts get discovered on the front porch while investigating the Santa sighting :D
You're right about 'little Christmas' not being a Swedish tradition...I first heard about it when I moved to Finland, but I didn't actually grasp the concept until I moved here to the Swedish speaking parts. I thought at first that it was more like a company Christmas party, since they're celebrated around the same time!...but then, I got to know 'the natives' and got clued in ;D

The Holms

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The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.