Helsinki – the Christmas city
The first substantial snow usually arrives in time for Christmas in the Finnish capital, draping the city in white and creating an appropriately festive ambience. Christmas lights on the city’s main street Aleksanterinkatu and the bustle of shoppers in St Thomas’ Market exude a cheering warmth.
The sun may be reluctant to rise as winter starts to grip Helsinki, but the aroma of mulled wine, or glögi, and shop window decorations warm the soul as Christmas approaches.
Christmas is usually a quiet family celebration, so people make the most of pikkujoulu – ‘little Christmas’ – during which they party in bars and restaurants. The mercury may plunge below minus 10 Celsius, but the mood is one of warm conviviality. Even when temperatures plummet, shops and restaurants emit a welcoming glow and Finnish buildings are famously equipped to expel the harshest frost. Add to the mix carol recitals in the churches and it’s hard to believe that Helsinki wasn’t actually founded for the specific purpose of celebrating Christmas.
Helsinki is a modern, pocket-sized European city known for design and high technology. Helsinki’s attractive and unique character comes from its proximity to the sea, as well as its location between the East and the West.