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Christmas Ritual from Finland: visiting the cemetery

This week's post was inspired by the Finnish ritual of visiting cemeteries at Christmas.

It may not be everyone's idea of a perfect Christmas, but for religious and non-churchgoing Finns, taking candles to place on family graves on the 24th December is part of their annual tradition. Since the 1920s when candles became affordable, many Finns (up to around 75%  of Finnish families) will light the beginning of the Christmas period for their deceased relatives.
Snow lying crisp and even in Highgate Cemetery, London. You can search the cemetery's registers on the Deceased Online database 
Some take candles to a local cemetery where they do not have relatives - often to enjoy the peaceful, reflective experience of the candlelit graveyard.
In Finland, as with many of the cemeteries that feature in the collections of Deceased Online, graveyards are respected as places of calm for the living. Emphasis is placed on nurturing the trees and plants surrounding memorials. This results in cemeteries on Christmas Eve becoming candlelit sanctuaries, full of people, while remaining tranquil and respectful.
Meanwhile, in Britain it is not unusual for individuals or families to visit the graves of loved ones in order to include them in Christmas events. Some UK cemeteries also allow candles, lanterns or LED devices to light graves and memorials. Perhaps the Finns are inspiring a worldwide trend? 
Highgate Cemetery
If you are thinking of visiting deceased family members over the Christmas period, you may find the resting places of some ancestors on Deceased Online. And do follow the links in this blog to the home pages of cemeteries/crematoria to check Christmas opening hours.

Graves in a snowy Highgate Cemetery

Whether you choose to be like the Finns and visit cemeteries this Christmas, or if you just prefer staying and doing family history research, we hope you find the Deceased Online database useful this Yuletide. Do share your discoveries and photos with us in the Comments Box below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

However you choose to spend Christmas, everyone at Deceased Online wishes you a happy and peaceful festive season!


Fran Weaver, "Christmas Eve in a Candlelit Cemetery", This is Finland 20 Dec 2017)


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