For the Finns, much of the Yuletide celebration takes place not on Christmas Day itself, but instead on December 24th, Christmas Eve.
In Turku, which is the former capital of Finland, noon on Christmas Eve signifies the beginning of a 20 day period known as “Christmas Peace”. This declaration dates back to the 13th century, and used to be observed in many Nordic countries. Finland remains the one country to continue the tradition of a period of time when all are encouraged to avoid “noisy & rowdy behavior”.
A visit to the sauna by the entire family is part of the Christmas Eve tradition. Using the sauna for bathing and relaxation occurs in the afternoon prior to attending any of the evening’s festivities. Typically the remainder of the evening would be dedicated to attending church, a big dinner, and spending time with family and close friends.
Warming up the sauna at Christmas is an ancient Finnish custom. Rural Finns believed that the spirits of dead ancestors would visit to bathe in the sauna after sunset. The sauna was regarded as a holy place—a place for giving birth, dying, and treating and healing sickness. It’s no surprise that many Finns regard the sauna as a symbol for purity—and why taking a Christmas Eve sauna brings cleansing and peace.
Perhaps Joulupukki (the Finnish equivalent for Father Christmas) will deliver a Helo Sauna to your home this holiday season? With a terrific array of traditional steam saunas, we have something for everyone to help you create your own “Christmas Peace” tradition.
To you and yours, the very best this holiday season.