Sunday, August 7, 2022

Festivals & Holidays in Finland

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Public holidays in Finland

Acts of Parliament establish all public holidays in Finland. The official holidays are split into two categories: Christian and non-Christian festivals. Christmas, New Year’s Day, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Midsummer Day, and All Saints’ Day are the major Christian festivals. May Day and Finland’s Independence Day are non-Christian festivals.

Furthermore, all Sundays are official holidays, although they are not as significant as the special holidays. The titles of the Sundays are based on the liturgical calendar and may be classified as Christian festivals. When the normal working week in Finland was shortened to 40 hours by an act of Parliament in the late 1960s, it also meant that all Saturdays became de facto public holidays, although not official ones. Easter and Pentecost are Sundays that are part of a larger festival and are preceded by special Saturdays.

Several Christian festivals that were formerly observed on working days or on set dates have been shifted to Saturdays and Sundays. Midsummer Day was relocated to the Saturday after June 19th in 1955, the Annunciation to the Sunday after March 21st (or, if this overlaps with Easter or Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Palm Sunday), and All Saints’ Day to the Saturday after October 30th. More holidays were shifted in 1973, including Epiphany, which was moved to the Saturday after January 5th, and Ascension Day, which was moved to the Saturday preceding the usual Thursday, but these changes were restored in 1991.


Christmas Eve and Midsummer Eve may be the two most significant holidays for Finns throughout the year. Surprisingly, they are not officially named holidays and are not noted on calendars, but for most people, they are not working days, and in reality, they vary from official holidays only in that most stores are open from early morning until noon on such days. They have this de facto status owing to certain legislative declarations, but also because most work contracts include these days as complete holidays. A number of the less significant major holidays are also preceded by de facto half days, which means that working hours in certain (but not all) workplaces are reduced. These dates are Maundy Thursday, May Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Working hours were shorter on Saturdays (4…5 h) than on other weekdays (8 h) before the 5 day working week was widely adopted in Finland in the late 1960s, but they were also shorter on all eves of public holidays, such as the eve of Epiphany, the eve of All Saints’ Day, and even Christmas Eve and Midsummer Eve. However, since Saturdays were no longer considered working days, new contracts eliminated similar shortenings from other holiday eves, with the exception of Midsummer and Christmas Eve, which also became de facto vacations.

Special flag days are also included in the Finnish calendar. The designation of a day as a flag day has no formal relationship to its ultimate designation as an official or de facto holiday. However, May Day, Midsummer Day, and Independence Day are both flag days and public holidays.

Finland celebrates a national holiday on December 6th. Minor observances are also recorded in the Finnish calendar, although they have not been deemed worthy of holiday or flag day status.

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