Santa Claus, known as Joulupukki in Finland, has experienced quite a metamorphosis. In pagan times Joulupukki, whose name means “Yule Buck” in Finnish, was a gruff goat that threatened and scolded everyone. Represented by either a real goat or a person covered in animal skins, Joulupukki demanded presents to stay in his good graces instead of giving them away. Over time the goat mellowed and started giving gifts to good children, but he still menaced the bad ones.
Santa Claus, complete with red suit and kindly nature, first visited Finland in the 1800’s. Joulupukki and Santa Claus finally merged into one being in 1927 thanks to “Uncle Markus” a popular Finnish radio personality.
Everyone knows that Santa Claus is very busy Christmas Eve night. Before he can go on his annual trek throughout the world he has a very important job to do in Finland. He gets an early start (the children have not gone to bed yet) because every child gets a personal visit from Joulupukki, portrayed by an uncle or a family friend. Instead of coming down the chimney, as he is known to do in the United States, he comes through the front door. He gives presents to his special helper elves, the children who may be dressed as elves, who pass out the presents to family members. Then Joulupukki may have a warm drink or a gingerbread cookie and sings a song or two with the children before leaving for the next house.
Children in the United States and other parts of the world believe that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, but Finnish children know he lives in Finland. In 1927 Markus Rautio, “Uncle Markus,” host of the “Children’s Hour” broadcast on Finnish public radio revealed to the world that Joulupukki lived in Korvatunturi Fell, Ear Mountain, in eastern Lapland. Korvatunturi Fell is named for 3 mountain peaks that resemble rabbit ears. It is said that those “ears” allow Santa to hear the wishes of every boy and girl in the world. He also uses the ears to help keep track of the naughty and nice list.
While people cannot visit Joulupukki’s house due to its closeness to the Russian border, they can visit Santa’s Workshop Village at Napapiiri, Finland. There visitors from all over the world can see Santa’s Main Post Office, Santa Park, and Salla Reindeer Park.
At Santa’s Main Post Office, watch Santa’s helpers sort mail and fill requests for international visitors. See them keep up with Santa’s list of good children on the computer using the World Wide Web and other resources that Santa has. People can also buy highly collectible Finland Christmas stamps, Lapland postcards, souvenirs, toys, books, and Christmas decorations. Since this is an official post office all mail that goes through it gets stamped with a one-of-a-kind Arctic Circle postmark. An official proof of visit certificate is given to everyone who visits Santa’s Main Post Office to show to their skeptic friends back home.
Santa Park is probably the only amusement park north of the Arctic Circle. Located in a huge cave in Syvävaara Fell, Santa Park is just a short sleigh ride from Santa’s Workshop Village. Visitors ride a Christmas carousel, enjoy puppet shows, and take reindeer rides. People can take in the wonders of Lapland in every season on the Magic Sleigh Ride or watch a multimedia show complete with northern lights. See Santa’s Countdown Clock while visiting shops and playing games. Join in some climbing adventures and ride Santa’s helicopters: all while staying inside the mountain.
Ever wonder what life is like in a reindeer herder’s village? Visit Salla Reindeer Park. There one may take reindeer sleigh rides and even earn a reindeer driving license. Guests can learn about reindeer and their predators, pet and feed tame reindeer, and even learn to throw a Lappish lasso.
Children, and adults, can mail Santa Claus at
Santa Claus’s Main Post Office
or visit Santa’s website at http://www.santaclaus.posti.fi.
Become a member of Santa’s Official Fan Club at http://www.santaclausoffice.fi.
Listen to the Official Santa Claus Radio Station at http://www.nettiradio.fi.