Culinary Christmas in Finland
Christmas in Finland is heralded by the public proclamation of the Christmas Truce at 12:00 noon sharp on Christmas Eve. In the evening, Finnish families serve up a Christmas feast with numerous delicacies typical of the country. We reveal what culinary highlights Finnish Christmas cuisine has to offer.
Traditional appetizers for Christmas
Rosolli: The salad is a classic Finnish appetizer during the Christmas season. It consists of boiled potato and carrot pieces and pickles. The main ingredient is beet pieces, which give the salad its typical blood red color.
Sillisalaatti: The traditional herring salad is not missing from the festive Christmas table in any Finnish household. In addition to salt herrings, onions, carrots and gherkins are among the most important ingredients. The herring salad is served with parsley.
Graavilohi: Pickled salmon is enjoyed nationwide as an appetizer before the Christmas main course. The shelf-stable fish is served with a strong dill mustard sauce, which is given a slightly sweet taste by the addition of honey.
Loimukala: Loimukala is a freshwater fish from the trout family, prepared in a special way. The vendace is fixed on a board and cooked over an open fire.
Karjalanpaisti: This meat stew is a soup made of beef, pork and lamb and is refined with various herbs. In addition to onions and carrots, bay leaves are added to the stew.
Popular main dishes at Christmas time
Joulukinkku: The cured Christmas ham is a national specialty served in more than 90 percent of all Finnish households on Christmas Eve. The pork ham is baked in the oven until the crust has turned a golden brown color. The dish is supplemented with potato casserole, stewed carrots and boiled turnips.
Lutefish: As in all Scandinavian countries, stockfish is one of the culinary highlights of Christmas dinner in Finland. This is usually cod, which must be softened in the water for days before processing. The fish is cooked in the oven and served with melted butter and lemon slices.
Savulohi: Smoked salmon is served warm at Christmas in Finland and is a main dish, unlike in neighboring Sweden.
Lenkki makkara: The Finnish sausage specialty has a slightly curled shape and is made from pork and flour. The sausage tastes best when grilled and coated with a mild, sweet mustard.
Maksalaatikko: Finnish liver casserole is a classic Christmas dish in the Scandinavian country. Ingredients include liver pieces, rice, eggs, onions and raisins. Melted butter is spread over the casserole. The specialty is served with a blob of cranberry jam.
Finnish side dishes to the main courses
Porkkanalaatikko: A popular side dish to the fish and meat dishes of Finnish Christmas cuisine is a carrot casserole. This involves mixing pureed carrots with cooked rice and pouring cream over them.
Lanttulaatikko: Finnish beet casserole is a popular vegetable side dish to the main course. The base is pureed turnips, which are refined with spices such as ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Eggs and cream give the casserole a creamy consistency.
Perunalaatikko: Mashed potatoes occupy a high place in Finnish Christmas cuisine and are one of the traditional dishes at the holidays. The puree serves as a side dish, especially with meat dishes.
Karjalanpiirakka: A Christmas specialty that originated in Russian cuisine is Karelian pirogue. This is a thin dumpling that is filled with a meat or vegetable filling. The dough is made from rye flour and after baking the dumpling can be additionally topped with sausage or cheese.
Sweet delicacies for the holidays
Joulutorttu: A traditional Finnish Christmas cake, usually star-shaped, is known throughout the country as Joulutorttu. Inside there is a filling of plum jam or apple jam.
Piparkakku: Finnish gingerbread is eaten throughout the Advent season. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom are used for the thin, crispy cookies. Often the sweets are coated with a sugar glaze.
Pulla: The Finnish yeast pastry is usually eaten with a cup of coffee or tea after the Christmas feast. It has a typical golden brown crust and is sprinkled with coarse-grained sugar and almond slivers.
Maustekakku: The traditional spice cake is a must for afternoon coffee at Christmas time in Finland. The dough is prepared with dried fruits and after baking the cake receives a sugar coating.
Finnish drink specialties for Christmas
Glögi: Finnish Christmas punch is an alcoholic hot drink fortified with sweet currant juice. The mulled wine variant is characterized by a spicy taste, which is due to the use of cloves, cinnamon and lemon juice. Peeled almonds and raisins are additionally added to the heated drink.
Kotikalja: This beer-like drink is homemade by many Finns and consists of a mixture of water, yeast, sugar and malt. As a traditional festive drink, it plays a major role during the Christmas season. In the Scandinavian country Kotikalja is also called home beer.
Salmiakki: After the feast, salmiakki is drunk in many Finnish households. This high-proof spirit has an alcohol content of between 30 and 40 percent by volume, is jet black in color, and tastes intensely of licorice.
Kahvi: The inhabitants of Finland have the reputation of being the biggest coffee drinkers in the world. During the Christmas season, one or more cups of coffee with milk and sugar are part of the obligatory holiday menu.
Lapintaika: In Lapland, people like to consume an alcoholic mixed drink called Lapintaika at Christmas time. This is a mixture of vodka, cloudberry liqueur, mineral water and lemon juice. Just before serving, add cloudberries and ice.