After some years of getting the time difference wrong and forgetting the matter at 10am British time in the Christmas Eve morning, I managed to remember the Declaration of Christmas Peace from Turku. This traditional Declaration is broadcast for viewers abroad only as a direct live broadcast and if you are not at your computer at the right moment you will miss the broadcast for the year in question. You may catch a snippet by watching the YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company) news after the Declaration, but for some reason at least in previous years it has not been offered as a repeat viewing for the Finnish community abroad. It is a sober and serious event, but it starts the Christmas celebrations for all Finns.
Everything stops in Finland after the Declaration at noon; the shops close and public transports ceases until Boxing Day. Things do not come to such a complete end in Britain, but the shops are closed on Christmas Day and public transport restarts only on Boxing Day as well. However, the pubs open for dinners or pints at lunch time on Christmas Day. Traditionally, nobody could think spending any time at Christmas in a pub in Finland. Not that we moved anywhere from the TV set on Christmas Day. We even did the Queen’s speech, not to mention Dr Who, Strictly Come Dancing, Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey. I felt bad conscious, but it was a very rainy day, so Number One Son did not lose any outdoor time.
This year Archaeologist Husband reminded me about the Declaration of Christmas Peace so that Number One Son can attach to his Finnish roots. I got the laptop on just in time and Number One Son saw the whole event just as one should see it. Beamed from Turku with the Medieval Cathedral at the background, the vice mayor read the Medieval text after the Cathedral bells had stricken twelve times. There was snow on ground and the brass band was playing the traditional songs and men’s choir singing. The music included the standards – the national anthem and the Bjorneborg soldiers’ military march. Number One Son managed to follow the Finnish section, but lost the interest with the Swedish text. He was very delighted to see the children in the audience and waved at them. We rounded up the traditional start to the Finnish Christmas Eve celebrations by watching the Teletubbies Finnish Christmas video over on YouTube. Then we started our Christmas – albeit without sauna, a trip to light up the candles at the cemetery or a visit from a Boy Scout Father Christmas.