Snovej Circle 6: Merry Christmas!
Christmas in Finland is somewhat different from Christmas in America. To begin with, Christmas consists of three days, Christmas Eve, December 24th, being the Big Event. All children in Finland know that Santa lives up in Lapland, just north of the Polar Circle. Not on the North Pole. There’s only ice …
As so many countries have their little unseen beings like sprites, fairies, pixies, elves, and gnomes, Finland, as well as all of Scandinavia, has little “tomtes” (tomte in Swedish, tonttu in Finnish). They are Santa’s little helpers and they live everywhere. They are the ones keeping an eye on the children and reporting back to Santa.
The tomtes are dressed in red pointed hats, and red or green or gray outfits. The males have long white beards, and the females have long braids and long skirts. Way back in time when Coca-Cola asked Haddon Sundblom, an American with roots in Finland and Sweden, to create a new image of Santa, he made Santa look like the tomtes! Few Americans know this …
There was gift giving during the winter solstice long before Christianity took over. The story goes that somebody dressed up as a goat would go from house to house leaving presents. The Finnish word for Santa Claus is Joulupukki, which translates to Yule Goat! And the word Yule comes from the pre-Christian time referring to the turning of the wheel at this time of the year. The word for Christmas in Swedish is Jul which is the same word for wheel, except the word for wheel is spelled with a silent h: hjul! The Finnish word for Christmas is Joulu. And the English word Yule has the same origin. It’s the wheel of time turning!
The colors green and red are also from the old times. The green symbolizes eternity and red stands for life. In the old days people would make a wreath (round as a wheel!) of evergreen tree branches, and add what red they could find, like berries and dried fly agaric mushrooms. It was the Germans who later decided to bring in the whole tree!
On Christmas Eve in Finland the family gathers for a special dinner with a fresh roasted big ham, casseroles, and other goodies. After dinner it’s time to wait for Santa. He actually comes to every home and delivers the presents!
There’s a fun childrens book explaining all this. Why Santa visits the children on Christmas Eve in Finland, but comes in the night in America. It’s called “Santa Claus” by Mauri Kunnas. You can see it here.
This week I posted a pattern for my, so far, most favorite crocheted snowflake. The points are made by crocheting a triple trefoil. I also show you how to block and stiffen the snowflake.
Before leaving Minnesota I made a bunch of our traditional “Party Cracker” presents. I wrote a tutorial on how to make them.
I’ve added more links to my Pinterest board Homemade Christmas. Check it out! I especially like the yarn wreath. My fingers are itching to make one, but I’ll wait until I get back to Finland in February. It was made by Ashley at Cherished Bliss three years ago.
My Christmas present to you, my readers, is my Crochet Mistletoe pattern. It’s a downloadable pdf file and it will be available for the next 24 hours starting now at midnight Eastern American time. Click the link! It will be available only for 24h!
Snovej Pattern Crochet Mistletoe
This year I’m celebrating Christmas with my daughter Maria and her family in sunny (warm and muggy) Florida!
The Snovej Little Bear says “Hi! Merry Christmas!”. He’s all dressed up in his tomte hat and Christmas sweater …