Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 6: Finland Joulupukki

It’s Day 6 of our Advent Calendar and today Finland celebrates its 100th Independence Day. That is why today we are heading up North to meet the Finnish Father Christmas, or Joulupukki as the locals call him. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!



Joulupukki, literally translated “Christmas goat” is the Finnish Father Christmas. Though he resembles your average Santa Claus, he first of all, does not live on the North Pole, nor did he originally have anything to do with the good old Saint Nicholas. Joulupukki stems from old pagan tradition of the Yule Goat, and was originally a much scarier figure, often wearing a goat mask. Joulupukki was also dressed in red clothes long before Santa Claus donned the festive colour. In fact, it was a son of Finnish emigrants that gave the American Coca-Cola Santa Claus his red attire.

Joulupukki lives up in the Finnish Lapland with his wife, the Joulumuori and his ever-helpful workers, the tonttus. Every year he travels throughout the world in his sleigh pulled by reindeer, and though magical, his reindeer traditionally don’t fly. Joulupukki leaves for his annual trip on the 23rd of December at 6 pm and his departure is broadcasted on the national television in Finland. Finnish children also receive their presents on the evening of the 24th of December, because that is when Joulupukki makes his rounds in Finland before heading out of the country.

If you visit Finland, you can visit Joulupukki’s workshop right above the arctic circle at Rovaniemi.

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