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Why is Finland the Land of Santa?

When we think of Finland, especially during the winter period, the connection with 'the land of Santa Claus' is practically immediate.

It may be partly because of its winter landscapes, partly because the country has seized the ball and managed to further entrench this idea by building in Rovaniemi - now known as the town of St Nicholas - precisely the village of the elderly gentleman who every Christmas brings good children the gifts they most desire. But it was not always so, quite the contrary.

Starting with the legend that sees Santa Claus's - in Finnish Joulupukki, literally Christmas goat - red suit as the rebranding done by Coca Cola, Christmas in Finland before Christianity was extremely different, practically unrecognisable, even had a different name, it was called Yule and was celebrated in the middle of winter, around 13 January, St. Knut's Day. This tradition is still alive in a few areas in Satakunta (west of Tampere).

If you visit the village, and I highly recommend to, you can also see representations of what used to be traditional Finnish Christmas creatures, a cross between a human and a goat, the nuuttipukki, evil spirits that demanded gifts and leftover food.

Today, the Christian figure of St Claus has been mixed with the traditional one, giving rise to Joulupukki, who, unlike the original version, knocks on the door of houses, asks if there are any good children, then distributes gifts - which in Finland are opened on Christmas Eve - and returns to the hill where the legend says he can hear everything: Korvatunturi.

The legend says that he and his elves can hear the good and bad children from there all around the year.

He does not even have time to stay for the biscuits and milk that some countries traditionally leave on Christmas night. Much less for coffee, which in Finland is a sign of hospitality.

Santa's official home is right at the Arctic Circle, in Rovaniemi. There you can find Santa's working office, the post office, bakery, gift workshops, and lots of Santa-related activities.

Santa Claus lives together with his wife (joulumuori, in Finnish) and elves (tontut, in Finnish).

Many of the modern ideas about Santa Claus came from the famous poem, ''Twas the Night Before Christmas.'' by Clement Clarke Moore.

Also, given the high density of reindeer in Lapland, an extremely entertaining and unique activity is to see Santa Claus cheering to the fastest reindeer at competitions held throughout the region, apparently the method he uses to choose the best ones to place in front of his magical sleigh.

It all began In 1927, Finnish radio broadcaster Marcus Rautio announced to the world that Santa's workshop had been discovered in Korvatunturi fell, which is still used in the official backstory of the Santa Claus Village.

In 1984, the governor of Lapland officially declared the province as 'Santa Claus Land'. A year later, the Santa Claus Village was opened.

Santa's presence in Rovaniemi has not only given people from all over the world a happy childhood memory but also brought new life to a devastated city, destroyed during the Battle of Rovaniemi in 1944 against the German front; this change of perspective has certainly given a different imagery to what was previously a stronghold in the middle of a virtually uninhabited and uninhabitable area.

And if you desire to send Santa a letter, his address is the following:

Joulupukin Pääposti

Tähtikuja 1, 96930 NAPAPIIRI



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