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 . . .
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 . . .