Celebrating Christmas the Finnish Way

Nope, unfortunately (or fortunately – not too fond of the cold!) I’m not in Finland at the moment, but my Finnish classmate, Krista, showed me what a Finnish Christmas would be like the evening before I left Heidelberg. I (almost) wish I could go there for Christmas this year but I figured it’d be freezing cold and expensive.

Gingerbread house made by Krista and her friends.
Gingerbread house made by Krista and her friends

So we were talking about Glühwein the other day and she told me there was also something similar in Finland, called glögi. It’s a kind of mulled wine from the Nordic countries, but there doesn’t have to be alcohol. She invited me to try some non-alcoholic glögi and I got to learn a little about the Finnish way of celebrating Christmas.

Glögi
Glögi

Glögi is the Finnish word for glögg, which is Swedish or Icelandic, and I’m not sure if there is an English equivalent besides “mulled wine”.

The non-alcoholic version is made with red fruit juices mixed with sugar and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and orange peels. I think the glögi we tried at Krista’s was made with blackcurrant juice and different spices. “It tastes, and smells, like a ‘Finnish Christmas’,” Krista told me as she took a sip from her mug.

It’s usually served with almonds and raisins but we forgot to buy some at the Weihnachtsmarkt. Nonetheless I still enjoyed it much – a cup of sweet, warm glögi is always nice in a chilly December evening.

Gingerbread HouseI noticed a beautifully decorated gingerbread house in the kitchen as we heated the glögi and I thought someone might have bought it from a bakery. I was about to ask, but Krista surprised me by saying that she and her friends had baked it for Christmas. It’s another Finnish festive tradition to make gingerbread houses with family or friends. She said what they made was actually quite simple and I didn’t believe it until she showed me pictures of some of her friends’ gingerbread houses, churches and even castles, which were indeed super detailed and complicated.

What we did and discussed were only a very small part of the Finnish Christmas traditions but I still enjoyed the evening a lot. So thank you, Krista. 🙂

If you want to find out more about Finnish Christmas, you might also want to have a look at this blog, which I find very informative: http://oaxacaborn.com/2012/12/06/nordic-christmas-finnish-christmas-traditions-hyvaa-joulua/

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