It's midway through December, and Finnish traditions are carried out by Finns living abroad. The start of the dark season in Finland is when the fervor and prospect of Christmas begins. California Finns with the sunny weather are keeping up with the holiday spirit.
December is truly a time for family and friends. Pikkujoulu, "little Christmas", a party often paid for by employers, in anticipation of the indulgences of Christmas and one might spot ravers and revelers celebrating even in November.
In the conventional sense, the season for "pikkujoulu" starts with the first advent Saturday, which is the fourth Sunday eve before Christmas. It's a time for preparation for the Christmas festivities. The holiday streets are officially open, shops, stores and malls play songs about Santa, Rudolph, snow and the joy of the time of year. It's a fairly new tradition and became an established custom after World War One. Excellent Christmas buffets with hot porridge, drinks, games, songs, dances and exchanging of gifts have been a part of the celebration to keep the spirit of the season high. Parties are held to taste the legendary glögg, a spicy drink made of red wine and blackcurrant juice, to mingle and meet new people.
These bashes can be compared to office Christmas parties with eggnog but in reality, they are much more than that. Sometimes jolly old Santa has time to visit the parties from Korvatunturi, Lapland to spice things up. With an customary red elf hat bumbling on the head, the gatherings can last until the next morning when the sun comes up and the last merry Finns find their way home…