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Joulupukki is the Finnish name for Santa Claus. The name Joulupukki literally means Yule Goat or Christmas Goat. This name is likely to come from an old Finnish tradition, where people dressed in goat hides, the apparition being called a nuuttipukki, used to go around from house to house after Christmas eating leftover food.

Today Joulupukki looks and behaves mostly like his American version, but there are differences. Joulupukki's workshop is situated, not in the North Pole or Greenland, but in Korvatunturi, Lapland, Finland (In the UK Father Christmas is said to be located in Lapland, however usually said to be the Norwegian part, it should be noted). Instead of sneaking in through the chimney during the night, he (traditionally played by Father or Grandad or Uncle, today by a Rent-a-Santa) knocks on the front door during the Christmas eve celebration. When he comes in, his first words are traditionally "Onko täällä kilttejä lapsia?" (Are there (any) nice children here?)

He usually wears warm red clothes, uses a walking stick, and travels in a sleigh driven by a number of reindeer. The popular song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono, has lead to Rudolph's general acceptance in the mythology as Joulupukki's lead reindeer. Santa's reindeer do not fly in the Finnish version, however. Joulupukki has a wife, Joulumuori ("Old Lady Christmas"), but tradition has not got much to say of her.


The location of Joulupukki's workshop comes from a children's radio show called Markus-sedän lastentunti ("Children's hour with Uncle Markus") hosted by Markus Rautio and sent by The Finland's National Broadcasting Corporation between years 1927-1956.

Joulupukki's Dark Side?

Pagan people used to have festivities to ward off evil spirits. In Finland these spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. The Christmas Goat was an ugly creature and frightened children.

It is unclear how this personality was transformed into the benevolent Father Christmas. Nowadays the only remaining feature is the name. The process was probably a continuous amalgamation of many old folk customs and beliefs from varied sources. One can speak of a Christmas pageant tradition consisting of many personages with roles partly Christian, partly pagan: A white-bearded saint, the Devil, demons, house gnomes, whatnot. Nowadays the Joulupukki of Finland resembles the American Santa Claus.

Popular radio programs from the year 1927 onwards probably had great influence in reformatting the concept with the Santa-like costume, reindeer and Korvatunturi (Mount Ear, near Polar Circle) as its dwelling place. Because there really are reindeer in Finland, and Finns are living up North, the popular American cult took root in Finland very fast. Maybe some caring soul decided the Joulupukki is just too scary for little kids.

Today, Finland is one of the few countries where kids actually see Father Christmas in the act of delivering the presents.

See also

Home | Up | Santa Claus | Biblical Magi | Caganer | Christkind | Companions of Saint Nicholas | Ded Moroz | Dzied Maroz | Elf | Father Christmas | Joulupukki | Julemanden | Kris Kringle | La Befana | Moş Gerilă | Mr. Bingle | Mrs. Claus | Saint Nicholas | Olentzero | Père Noël | Santa Claus' reindeer | Tió de Nadal | Tomte | Yule Goat | Yule Lads

Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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