Finnish Christmas in numbers

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This blog post sheds light on the Finnish Christmas in light of numbers. After all, this is the holiday season. We had the Finnish Independence Day yesterday. Employers are organizing Christmas parties, dinners, and lunches for their employees and clients. And families are preparing for their own Christmas celebrations.

In the past, we have written about Finnish Christmas foods. Given you a heads-up on the workplace Christmas parties as well as described some holiday traditions such as the St. Lucy’s Day. This time we’ll provide a slightly different approach to Christmas in Finland and look at it through numbers (mostly) courtesy of Statistics Finland and their sources. 

As this is not meant to be a scientifically rigorous look at Christmas in Finland, we will not mention the individual sources Statistics Finland used in their compilation of Christmas-related numbers. You can check them from the linked Statistics Finland page yourself if you are interested. We’ll just go ahead and give you what they’ve got. If were refer to other articles besides the Statistics Finland one, we’ll give you a link. In our review of Finnish Christmas in numbers, we’ll start with food and drink.

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Christmas food and drink in numbers

As we mentioned in our blog post on Finnish Christmas foods, we are still quite traditional in our likes and dislikes. We published that blog in 2019 but during the intervening years, this is still true judging by the Statistics Finland article. For example, the majority of Finns still think the number one Christmas dish is the Christmas ham. Next on the favorite list are root vegetable casseroles. 

The younger generation, however, seems to list sweets higher on their list of favorite Christmas foods than older generations. 32% of 18-24 year olds think that chocolates are their favorites. Only 9 % of 65-74 year olds said the same.

In terms of desserts, Finns (59 %) favor joulutorttu, the star-shaped pastry with a plum filling. Next on the list are chocolates (48 %) and home-backed ginger cookies (38 %). 

Fazer’s round green marmalade seems to divide the opinion of Finns. 28 % mentioned it as their favorite sweets and an equal number said they disliked them. Our family is a great representation of Finns in this respect. On one hand, some in our family say that Christmas is nothing without them. Some,  on the other hand, say that they really couldn’t care less if they never saw a single round green marmalade ever again.

We’ve mentioned before that Christmas is one of those holidays when Alko sees a sharp increase in their sales. In fact, Alko’s sales double during Christmas. During the two weeks before Christmas Alko sells nearly two million litres of red wine. This is double the normal amount for two weeks. The sales of bubbly triples. 

Christmas plants in numbers

Each year approximately 1.4 Christmas trees are put up in Finland. The majority of these trees comes from Finnish Christmas tree farmers. However, approximately 300 000 trees are cut from self-owned forests and about 150 000 trees are imported from abroad. The overwhelming majority of imported trees come from Denmark (73 %). The rest come from Sweden. Most commonly Finns put up the tree about a week before Christmas.

In a survey, the most popular Christmas flower in Finland (29 %) is the poinsettia (joulutähti in Finnish). The second most popular is the hyacinth (19 %) and the third most popular is the amaryllis. In Finnish hothouses, however, farmers farmed about 2.5 million hyacinths, 1.5 million poinsettias, and 1.2 amarylles in 2021.

Hyacinths are historically the earliest Christmas flowers in Finland. Florists started selling them in Helsinki in the 1840s. Poinsettias arrived in Finnish homes in the 1960s and amarylles in the 1970s.  

Christmas weather in numbers

Of course, we also need to discuss include weather in our discussion of Finnish Christmas in numbers. After all, the quintessential Christmas is white. Is is, however, that in reality?

The answer is somewhere some of the time. On a typical Christmas, there’s about 40 cm of snow in northern Finland, 30 cm in central Finland, and 5-10 cm in southern Finland. Helsinki is snowless approximately every third Christmas. In fact, Christmas in Helsinki has been snowless in 38 different years between 1911 and 2022. 

Along the southern and western coast, Christmas is snowless approximately every other year. As we move towards the north-east from the southwest coastline the likelihood of having a white Christmas increases. To the north and northeast of the line between Kemi and Ilomantsi, Christmases are always white. 

In Helsinki, the highest temperature on Christmas was measured in 2006 (7.5 degrees Celsius). The lowest temperature was -25.4 degrees in 1915. In Sodankylä, the highest temperature was 3.6 degrees in 1926. The lowest was -40.3 degrees in 1945. 

Christmas spending in numbers

Discussing Finnish Christmas in numbers also means discussing the commercial aspects of Christmas. Every year newspapers publish articles on the average amounts Finns spend toward their Christmas celebrations. Naturally, the average sums vary from year to year and survey to survey. For example, the Statistics Finland article tells us that on average Finns intend to spend 555 euros. 346 will be spend on gifts and 209 on other expenses. Another survey from last year says the average in 2022 would be 455 euros.

This year, one newspaper article reported on a survey according to which Finns will spend 276 euros on gifts on average this year.

Another reported that Finns are increasingly interested in giving second-hand gifts. In 2019, about 50 % of Finns had given second-hand gifts. Today, the share has risen to 72 %. 

The same article also talked about the cost of individual gifts. Nearly all of the gifts Finns buy cost between 11 and 100 euros. 28 % cost 11-30 euros, 30 % cost 31-50 euros, and 22 % cost 51-100 euros. 

Statistics Finland tells us that December is the best month for retailers in Finland. However, the difference in sales between December and other months has decreased over the years. In 2000-2010, December sales figures were 27 % higher than the average sales figures for a month. In 2011-2020, they were 22 % higher, and in 2021 only 18 % higher. One contributing factor is the increase in Black Friday-themed sales campaigns in recent years. 

In 2021, the VAT-inclusive sales figures for December were above 5.2 billion euros. This means about 1150 euros per each Finnish resident between 15 and 74 years of age. Per household, the equivalent figure was 1880 euros.  

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