Santa’s Home in Saariselkä
Way up north in the snowy Arctic Circle, Lapland is a wonderfully unique place. It doesn’t belong to any one nation, it’s unique and special to me, and overlaps the borders of four different countries, as you can see here on my map.
Historically the Sami people of Lapland have always roamed freely across all four countries, following their reindeer herds as they wander the fells and forests all year round, finding the best places to graze.
Mrs Claus and I also travel all over Lapland, together with our elves and reindeer, but we always spend December back at home in the little Finnish village of Saariselkä, as we get ready for Christmas Eve and my magical sleigh-ride dash around the world, to leave presents for all the children to wake up to on Christmas Day.
Exciting Activities in Saariselkä
There is so much to do here in my fun-filled forest in Saariselkä, both before and after our private family meeting, so you’ll all need to be full of energy and raring for action. Don’t forget that whichever break you choose, all the fun-packed activities shown below are always included in my own special trips, so you need not worry that you might miss out.
Meet my huskies – how I love their furry coats, sparkling eyes, and their sheer excitement when they run! Mums, Dads and Grandparents can all have a go driving the sled if they wish, whilst children sit on board and enjoy the ride!
My absolute favourite way to travel! Rudolph will be busy in December training my special team of Christmas Eve reindeer, but you will meet some of his friends and enjoy silently swishing through the trees on your sleigh ride.
This is a traditional Lapland treat! I love to see my visitors whizzing down the slope and hear all the laughter and shouts of fun. Mostly it’s the children who keep coming back for more, but often it’s the Mums and Dads too!
Noisy but so much fun! Children can ride time after time on my special mini skidoos. Specially designed to be safe for youngsters, this is a wonderful opportunity for the children to try something exciting and different.
Watching my team of helpers playing snow hockey with our visiting families always makes me laugh – how good do you think you and your family might be? Challenge my helpers to a game and find the snow champions!
The frozen lake in my Saariselkä forest is a popular attraction, where you can try the traditional Sami art of fishing through a hole in the ice. Be patient, and maybe you’ll catch a Lapland fish – then let him go again of course!
With the warming affects of the Gulf Stream, Lapland has significantly milder winters than other areas along the same latitude such as in Greenland or Alaska. The climate is sub-arctic with sparse vegetation in the north and dense forests in the South. The first snowfalls start in September and October and snow will stay on the ground until April and early May. The growing season in summer is adequate for temperate cereals like rye, barley and oats and also potatoes. After the Polar Night in midwinter, the sun rises for the first time above the fells with a burst of pale colours whilst during midsummer, the sun doesn’t set. The local Sámi people have always paid great attention to these natural phenomenon and the ancient Sámi believed that all objects in nature had a soul whether people, animals, plants, stones or the Northern Lights.
Interesting Facts and figures about Lapland
Lapland holds under 4% of Finland’s population yet about 30% of the land area. Just under 7% of Lapland’s area is made up of lakes with the largest being Lake Inari. The population is 184,000 with approx 7,000 indigenous Sámi people and there are over 200,000 reindeer! The administrative capital is Rovaniemi with 58,000 people. Finnish is the main language with some people also speaking the Northern Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi languages. Lapland is also recognised as being the home of Father Christmas.
Flora and fauna
Lapland does not have a great abundance of animals but what it does have are very impressive. The most well known is the reindeer which have adapted to the harsh climate living off hay, grass and lichens which in winter they dig for under the snow. There are also wolverine, bear and wolf whilst in the sky fly buzzards, eagles, larks and willow warblers. Pine and spruce trees are common in the south with more treeless fell heaths in the north and many lichens in these sparsely wooded areas. Sphagnum mosses thrive in the boggy areas as well as an abundance of vitamin rich berries. The Cloudberry is the most well known collected from the bogs in late July and early August.
Sámi traditions and culture
Traditionally the Sámi are a semi nomadic people mainly connected with reindeer herding and also fishing which are caught by drilling holes through the ice of the frozen lakes. As self-supporting nomads, their clothes and goods have been designed for largely practical use but they are also highly decorative. Functional items include knives, cases, cups and the well known ‘four winds’ hat. Use of wood, antlers, leather and roots is common and the traditional colours are red, yellow, green and blue. The famous Sámi house is the Kota which is a wigwam style tent, covered with firs and skins. Inside is a fire on which reindeer and smoked fish delicacies were lovely prepared.