Christmas starts in Åland
Lillajul is the start for Christmas time and an old and popular tradition in Åland. It’s always celebrated on Saturday before the first Advent.
The celebration of “Lillajul” is a reminder in the Christmas spirit of the coming celebrations in December. A cherished element, especially among families with children, is a small version of a christmas tree. If the children are lucky there may also be one or two little elves knocking on the door and throwing in small Christmas presents – or the kids may find the presents under the Christmas tree. In the evening friends and family gather for dinner, often with foods with a taste of Christmas. It is also popular to book a table at a grand Christmas buffet in a restaurant.
A visit to the annual Christmas market in Jan Karlsgården in Kastelholm is also a popular tradition for many Åland families. The Christmas market at the open-air museum is the oldest market event in Åland and attracts visitors and market sellers from all over Åland. There are sales of local handicrafts, home-baked bread, jams, drinks, candles and much more. You can even leave your wishing list to Santa Claus in the main house of the old farmyard. Should you be cold you can enjoy a traditional christmas lunch, rice pudding and a ham sandwich, or a nice cup of mulled wine, in the warm interior of restaurant Smakbyn close to the market area.
Jump start your Christmas Holidays together with your family or spend a weekend celebrating Lillajul with friends in Åland. Take the opportunity to purchase lasting and unique Christmas gifts in the shops in Mariehamn, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere in cozy cafés. Many restaurants serve traditional Christmas buffets with a local touch. The first Advent weekend is the perfect occasion to leave everyday life at home and start counting down to Christmas in Åland.