The Declaration of Christmas Peace
Every year, at noon on Christmas Eve, the Christmas Peace is declared from the city of Turku.
The Declaration of Christmas Peace is a tradition which launches the Christmas celebrations and in a way marks the official start of Christmas. The exact wording used during the first few centuries of the tradition has been lost over time, but the main contents of the declaration remain the same: the declaration is read out loud to remind people that Christmas peace has begun, to advise people to spend the festive period in harmony, to threaten offenders with harsh punishments, and to wish all a merry Christmas.
The tradition of reading the Declaration of Christmas Peace in Turku has continued almost uninterrupted since the 1300s. The declaration has been read on the balcony of the Brinkkala building since 1886. The current form of the declaration dates back to 1903.
According to folk memory, the tradition was interrupted:
- during the Russian invasion and occupation of Finland in 1712–1721 – a period also known as the Greater Wrath,
- possibly between 1809 and 1815,
- in 1917 when the militia was on strike,
- and in 1939 because of a fear of air raids.
The Declaration of Christmas Peace in Turku has been broadcast on the radio since 1935. National television broadcasts of the event started in 1983 and the event has also been broadcast in Sweden since 1986. Nowadays the Declaration of Christmas Peace can be viewed live around the world via the Internet.