Given the intense cold of Finnish winters, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Finns should opt for a warming, filling dish at Christmas. It is a common Christmas tradition to eat what they call Rice Porridge at Christmas. It may just seem simple comfort food, but simplicity can prove more delicious than the most elaborate Christmas feast.
Sometimes the Rice Porridge is served for breakfast on Christmas Eve, at others it is eaten after the main meal in Finland. It is often sprinkled with cinnamon or served with a bit of butter. Alternatively, it is eaten with chilled fruit. Bilberries are particularly popular.
Barley to Rice
Traditionally, the porridge was made with home-grown barley. Rice reached Finland in the 1800s. The Finns switched to making their porridge with rice and started adding fruit too around the same time.
Almond for Luck
A single almond is hidden inside the porridge. Whoever finds it will have good luck. This is the Finnish version of a Swedish custom in which a coin was hidden in the porridge. It was said that the finder would be married within the next year.
Viking Winter Solstice
Before Christian times, the Vikings celebrated the return of the light at winter solstice. Longer, lighter days were appreciably ahead. The Finnish word for Christmas joulu originates from the Viking word hjul meaning sun wheel.
References and Further Reading
- Gourmetpedia (1996-2021): Finnish Rice Porridge Recipe.
- Nordic Recipe Archive (1997-2015): Finnish Christmas. Rice Porridge.
- Nordic Recipe (1997-2015): Traditional Finnish Christmas. The Viking heritage.
- Yle News (2019): Rice porridge, baked ham and root vegetables: Why do Finns eat ‘vegetable boxes’ at Christmas? 24 December 2021
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.