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Finland Christmas

            It has sometimes been said that northern people of Finland appreciate Christmas the most, and this does actually seem to be true. After the long, dark and often very wet autumn, Christmas marks the turning point of the year, light begins to win over darkness. It's time to celebrate. Preparing for the year's biggest festival also makes the autumn go faster. .
             Christmas in Finland is not just Christmas Eve and the two days that follow. It is preceded by a lengthy and cheerful period of busy preparation. For the Church, Christmas begins with the first Sunday in Advent, but long before this, as early as October countless associations have already set about getting into the holiday spirit. The first off the line are generally the women's organizations, planning their Christmas bazaars. Members get together in the old Finnish tradition, most often to make Christmas decorations. These evening gatherings could also be regarded as the first Christmas parties, called by the delightful name of "Pikkujoulu", meaning "Little Christmas", since they always include some type of Christmas program, talks, music and special seasonal delicacies. .
             The first Sunday in Advent officially opens the Christmas season, the church resounding to the strains of Vogler's "Hosianna". And people flock to hear it. All over the country there are advent concerts in the evening. .
             It is around this time that the Christmas lights come on in shops and offices. The centers of towns are full of light. Suspended over many streets are three giant decorations. A cross symbolizing faith, an anchor representing hope, and a heart, the symbol of love. In the olden days they were lit with candles, nowadays the candles are electric. Only war, the start of the oil crisis and the introduction of an outdoor Christmas tree have temporarily interrupted their use.
             Finland's national Lucia is chosen from among ten teenage girls by public vote.

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