Joulupukki

Joulupukki is the Finnish name for Santa Claus or Father Christmas. The name Joulupukki literally means Yule Goat or "Christmas Goat". The Finnish word "pukki" comes from the Swedish "bock" (equivalent of the English "buck" or "billy-goat").

The long tradition of men dressed in goat's clothes has been called a "nuuttipukki", which 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 in Korvatunturi, whereas the American counterpart resides at the North Pole. Instead of sneaking in through the chimney during the night, he (traditionally played by the real Joulupukki), knocks on the front door during the Christmas eve celebration. When he comes in, his first words are traditionally "Onkos täällä kilttejä lapsia?" (Are there (any) well-behaved children here?)

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

Trivia

*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 broadcast by The Finland's National Broadcasting Corporation between years 1927-1956.

*Finland's Joulupukki received over 700,000 letters from children all over the world in 2006, according to a news report by Finland's National Broadcasting Corporation, YLE.

*The US-based Coca-Cola Santa Claus was designed by the son of Finnish emigrant, Haddon Sundblom.

The origins of Joulupukki

One interesting theory about the origins of Joulupukki and his flying reindeer, comes from the aboriginal Sami people of Lapland. In the forests there is a common poisonous mushroom, Amanita muscaria that is red with white dots. The shamans of Sami used to feed this mushroom to the reindeer, whereby the intestinal tract of the reindeer would filter out the poison, but leave the intoxicating substances. The urine of the reindeer would then be collected, and used as a hallucinogenic by the shamans. The shamans would often have out-of-the-body experiences and fly in the sky, returning through the chimney hole of their tent or cottage to their bodies. This shamanistic tradition would nicely explain the flying reindeer, the use of chimneys, and even the red-white colouring of Joulupukki.

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. 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 (Fell Ear, near the Arctic Circle) as its dwelling place. Because there really are reindeer in Finland, and Finns live up North, the popular American cult took root in Finland very fast.

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

ee also

* Yule Goat
* Korvatunturi
*
* Santa Claus Village

External links

* [http://groups.msn.com/965172qg02rbm4ek3a6e7udur5/_whatsnew.msnw Santa Club]
* [http://www.santaclausplaza.com Santa Claus Foundation]
* [http://www.santatelevision.com Santa Television]
* [http://www.lappland.net/santaclaus Weihnachtsmann - Santa Claus - Joulupukki ... in Finnland]


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