The holiday season begins with the Advent hymns, the Christmas markets | New

This weekend kicks off the second Covid-era Christmas season in many Finnish cities, with holiday markets and Advent church services.

The Christmas season at Jyväskylä Church Park (Kirkkopuisto). Image: Eveliina Matikainen / Yle

The opening of the second Christmas season of the Covid era is celebrated this weekend in Finland on a somewhat muted note amid concerns over record levels of coronavirus infections.

The Lutheran and Christian churches of Western Finland celebrate the start of Advent on Sunday, marking the start of a new church year and the period leading up to Christmas. It is usually one of the busiest events of the year in Lutheran churches across the country.

It is one of the most important religious festivals since the Middle Ages. In Finland is closely associated with the anthem “Hoosianna”.

The song was introduced in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1795, and spread a few years later to Turku, Finland, which was still part of the Swedish kingdom.

The Finnish version was published at the end of the 19th century. However, it was not added to the official Finnish Evangelical Lutheran hymnbook until 1986.

Yle broadcast the First Sunday of Advent service at the Lutheran Church of St. Peter in Siuntio, with chants led by a soprano Johanna rusanen and the Vox Petri choir. Finnish viewers can see it on Areena.

The other state-supported Finnish national church, the Orthodox Church, does not observe Advent, but a 40-day fasting period beginning on the feast of Philip the Apostle, November 14.

Holiday markets open in many cities

With declining church numbers and attendance in Finland, more and more people are participating in secular business celebrations as the holiday season begins this weekend.

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Due to renovations on Senate Square, the traditional Tuomaan Markkinat (St. Thomas Market) carousel is in operation this year in the nearby market square. Image: Mårten Lampén / Yle

In Helsinki, the Christmas shopping season opened on Saturday in Aleksanterinkatu, while the traditional Tuomaan Markkinat (St. Thomas Market) started in the nearby market square.

The former capital Turku kicked off its Christmas season on Saturday, including a holiday parade and the opening of the Christmas market in the Old Market Square. In less than a month, the region becomes the national hotbed for Christmas Eve sightings with the reading of the old Christmas Peace Declaration.

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Tuomaan Markkinat (St Thomas Market) opened on Saturday in Helsinki’s Market Square. In addition to traditional Christmas sales by more than 100 artisans and small producers, the event also offers circus and music shows. Image: MÃ¥rten Lampén / Yle

Tampere’s Christmas season officially opens Sunday, with a procession. Part of the city’s Christmas market opened on Saturday.

In the northern city of Oulu, the Christmas Street opening scheduled for Friday has been canceled due to the increase in coronavirus infections.

Other towns, including Espoo, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Kokkola, kicked off their Christmas season last weekend.

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Veera and Rob Wilson and their daughters Taika and Lumi plan to leave for England in a few weeks for Christmas, if possible. Image: Mårten Lampén / Yle

Among those who attended the Helsinki festivities on Saturday were Veera and Rob wilson, who came with their daughters Taika and Lumi to watch the opening event for the first time.

“We are going to England with the family. We really hope to get there by Christmas, as we haven’t been able to visit for two years,” said Veera Wilson from Helsinki.

She said the family cherished British holiday traditions as well as Finnish staples such as gingerbread cookies and Christmas ham.

“We combine the traditions of two Christmases and celebrate a great Christmas as a family,” she told Yle.

Even though the family are planning to be in the UK for Christmas, they have already installed holiday decorations at the house.

“Everyone has had a difficult two years so it’s wonderful to start thinking about positive things and Christmas stuff,” Wilson said.

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Mira Rantanen and Sofia Girenko came to attend the events in Senate Square with Mira’s dog, Luuttu. Image: MÃ¥rten Lampén / Yle

Another inhabitant of Helsinki, Mira Rantanen, who was also attending the event for the first time, described herself as “a Christmas person”.

“This atmosphere is great. I cook a lot of Christmas food, decorate a lot and wear an elf hat a lot during the Christmas season,” Rantanen said.

She attended with Sofia girenko, also from Helsinki, who said: “I’m excited. It’s really fun to celebrate Christmas with my friends – and even my family.”

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