New and traditional foods this Christmas

Christmas food in Finland
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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Finns get ready for their big annual feast. Both traditional and newer Christmas dishes are served from the beginning of the month onwards at pre-Christmas parties.

Traditional Finnish delicacies

The Christmas table in Finland features a wide variety of traditional delicacies, including rosolli (beetroot salad) and casseroles made of potato, swede and carrot. For many Finns, the Christmas ham is still king of the table, but there’s always room too for new ideas. These days many Finnish families serve the best dishes of the year at Christmas.

Finnish ingredients, especially locally sourced ones, are highly valued, and each Christmas chef likes to add his or her own personal touch. In some families, for example, the first new potatoes of the summer are frozen and served on Christmas Eve. There are also many schools of thought regarding how peas and lutefisk should be served – or whether they should be served at all.

Fish is increasingly popular at Christmas. While pickled herring and boiled lutefisk have traditionally been served, they have been joined by cured and smoked salmon, as well as delicious vendace roe. Pike marinated in lemon is a more recent addition to the Christmas table.

While Christmas traditions evolve slowly over time, they can always be played with. For example, why eat all the seasonal dishes on the same day and not spread the pleasure over several days? The advent period offers many excuses for enjoying your favourite treats well before Christmas Eve. What’s best, by enjoying seasonal dishes at different cafés and restaurants throughout December, you get to try a fantastic range of flavours.

Christmas trees for sale fill the foreground, with Hietalahti Market Hall peeking from behind them in the background.
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Fish swim in the market halls and restaurants

All varieties of Christmas fish can be purchased in Helsinki’s market halls and fishmongers. To help you make your selection you can walk around the Old Market Hall and taste samples of white fish cured in gin, gubbröra (egg-anchovy salad) made with herring and cold-smoked salmon on rye bread served at the different counters. For a more international touch, you can even ask the staff at E. Eriksson’s to open a few oysters to taste.

In addition to oysters, fish roe and caviar are very much part of the Christmas season. Treat yourself to the most exclusive seasonal cuisine at the tiny Finlandia Caviar restaurant by the South Harbour.

Helsinki’s restaurants also serve delicious fish dishes, from classic fried herring at Salve to exquisitely prepared portions at the city’s fine dining establishments. Salmon soup is a Finnish classic that you can enjoy at the cosy restaurants by the Market Square and especially at Fisken på Disken at the Kortteli restaurant complex on the top floor of the Kamppi shopping centre. Executive Chef Ari Ruoho also serves the freshest and most delicious catch of the day at the Nokka restaurant in Katajanokka.

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Exquisite food and hot drinks at the Helsinki Christmas Market

In keeping with Finnish Christmas traditions, the Helsinki Christmas Market offers something familiar and something new each year. The merry atmosphere attracts the hottest names in the local restaurant scene, who get to serve their own specialties to the crowds of visitors. Choose for yourself whether you would like something hot or cold to drink and something big or small to eat!

When the weather gets cold, you should definitely treat yourself to a steaming cup of mulled wine, or “glögi” as it is known locally. The cafés and bars all serve their own special varieties, combining different fruit juices and new spices each year to come up with something truly seasonal. What will be this year’s hit drink – light or dark, hot or cold? The trendiest glögi spices include spruce and fir, while apples provide a nice fruitiness. Ginger snaps, cheeses and other finger food go great with hot drinks!

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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Finns get ready for their big annual feast. Both traditional and newer Christmas dishes are served from the beginning of the month onwards at pre-Christmas parties.