ThisisFINLAND Christmas quiz

Try our Christmas quiz to see how much you know about Finnish Christmas traditions and foods – and to learn their names in Finnish.

Here’s a fun quiz about Christmas in Finland! Choose the right definition for each of the following Finnish words and tally your total at the end.



a) Santa’s bad-tempered gnome sidekick (who thinks almost all kids are badly behaved)
b) an ancient Finnish winter god (worshipped at midwinter during the pre-Christian era as “the bringer of darkness”)
c) a mischievous but good-hearted elf-like mythological Finnish land spirit (most easily spotted around Christmastime when wearing a pointed red cap with a bell on top)



a) a small bell hung from the antlers of a reindeer to help its owner find it in the dark (modern versions also have dangling reflectors)
b) a complex geometrical Christmas decoration made of straw (hung up well away from candles due to its extreme flammability)
c) a supernaturally spectacular display of the northern lights in the dark winter sky (often seen after New Year’s parties)



a) Finland’s Christmas bird – the red-breasted snow finch (Robinus fennicus)
b) a cold Christmas dish made with chopped beets, apples and carrots (served with a topping of pink cream)
c) a decoration made of green branches adorned with bright red ribbons (hung outside the front door during the Christmas season to welcome visitors)
An illustration of a reindeer pulling a sledge filled with spruces.

To the Finns, whose country is 75 percent forest, these three trees look very different – and only one is a true Christmas tree.Illustration: Heli Pukki 


Joulukuusi (“Christmas tree” – Which of the following is Finland’s traditional Christmas tree?)

a) Norway spruce (Picea abies)
b) Scots pine (Pinus silvestris)
c) Lapland larch (Larix lapponicus)



a) a traditional winter dessert made of stewed lingonberries and leftover breakfast porridge (still popular in remote regions of northern Karelia)
b) star-shaped Christmas pastries filled with apple, prunes, fish or minced meat and rice (not all in the same pastry!)
c) a hot Christmas dish made of mashed rutabaga baked with breadcrumbs, butter, eggs, spices, salt and syrup (sweet-and-sour, Finnish-style!)


Pikkujoulu (literally “Little Christmas”)

a) a special Christmas play performed by children (to help them remember the first Christmas in Bethlehem)
b) a popular outdoor communal carol-singing event (held a week before Christmas in town squares or other public places)
c) a workplace party arranged in November or December to enable colleagues to enjoy socialising, eating and drinking together (often with an emphasis on the drinking)



a) a typical Nordic Christmas fish dish, made by soaking dried cod for several days in lye – a solution made with caustic soda or potassium hydroxide (yummy!)
b) a melancholy Finnish Christmas carol (sung quietly in candlelight to the accompaniment of a five-string kantele harp)
c) a traditional winter game played by children throwing stones or tightly packed snowballs across a frozen lake to make spooky noises (try it and listen!)
An illustration of a rabbit reading a scroll for a fox and a wolf.

Is this a secret recipe? A sermon? A sing-along? Or perhaps some other “piece” of Christmas?Illustration: Heli Pukki 



a) a special Christmas candle placed on the grave of a deceased relative (Finnish cemeteries are picturesquely filled with candles at Christmastime)
b) an aromatic oil made of pine resin and marshland herbs, used in the Christmas sauna (a central part of Christmas for most Finnish families)
c) the season of Christmas peace, ceremoniously declared on December 24 by the mayor of Turku (crimes committed during this period are penalised more harshly than usual)



a) a Christmas pudding made with layers of cranberry jelly, old rye bread soaked in milk, and sour milk curds sweetened with sugar (a kind of Finnish trifle)
b) a warm drink served at Christmas parties, made using red wine and/or berry juice, spices, raisins and almonds (also sometimes spiked with vodka)
c) Santa’s special Christmas sleigh, built to a design offering plenty of extra luggage space (for bulging sacks of presents)


Jouluateria (Finland’s traditional Christmas meal – what dish most typically forms its centerpiece?)

a) roast turkey
b) roast ham
c) roast reindeer


Check your answers against the key below and add up the amount you got correct to find out how much you know about Finnish Christmas traditions:

1. c, 2. b, 3. b, 4. a, 5. c, 6. c, 7. a, 8. c, 9. b, 10. b

How many did you get right?

0–4 Never mind! Come and visit Finland soon to learn more about these colourful Christmas traditions!

5–7 Well done! You already have a grasp of Finnish Christmas traditions – or you may be on a lucky streak?

8–10  Onneksi olkoon! Congratulations! (Do you have Finnish blood?)

Hyvää joulua! Happy Christmas!

By Fran Weaver