Helsinki Christmas Market

Helsinki Christmas Market
The largest Christmas market in the capital of Finland is the St. Thomas Christmas Market (Tuomaan joulumarkkinat), often referred to as simply the Helsinki Christmas Market. It was named after Saint Thomas the Apostle whose feast day used to be observed by the Catholic Church on December 21. The market is held in the heart of the city in the Senate Square, surrounded by the Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, and the main building of the University of Helsinki.

The St. Thomas Christmas Market traditionally begins in early December and ends around the day of the winter solstice, which occurs between December 21 and December 23. The market is the ideal place to take a break from holiday preparations and just have a good time. It attracts thousands of visitors every year, locals and tourists alike.

The Helsinki Christmas market features more than 100 artfully decorated stalls and booths where local merchants and artisans offer traditional Christmas decorations, unique gifts, local Finnish produce, Christmas treats and hot drinks. Here you can buy warm and comfy knitwear, jewelry and accessories, scented candles, carved wooden figurines and toys, woolen hats, rugs, pottery, and more.

Food stalls offer a variety of Christmas treats and local delicacies. Licensed food courts focus on regional specialties such as Karelian hot pot (traditional meat stew), Christmas ham with mustard, salted salmon and pickled herring, vegetable casseroles, local cheeses and pastries, Christmas bread, gingerbread, and glögg (Nordic mulled wine). Vendors sell high-quality local produce including honey, mushrooms, meat and fish, jams, spices, and pastries.

The market draws a lot of people every day, but holidays that fall during the Advent period attract even more visitors. They include the Independence Day (December 6) and Saint Lucia’s Day (December 13). The tradition of celebrating Saint Lucia’s Day was borrowed from Swedish culture. Every year, a young women is chosen to portray Saint Lucia. Wearing a white gown and a crown of candles on her head, she leads a festive procession that begins in the Helsinki Cathedral, continues through the Senate Square and ends at Aleksanterinkatu. The tradition of crowning Saint Lucia in the Helsinki Cathedral dates back to 1949.

The most important Christmas character, Santa Claus (called Joulupukki in Finland), is at the market every day. There is also a Christmas post office for Christmas greetings and an old-fashioned merry-go-round offering free rides to everyone, children and grown-ups alike.

Helsinki Christmas Market

Photo: visithelsinki.fi



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