" To understand why the holidays are so important to Finnish families - indeed, to everyone of Scandinavian background - consider the context.
So many of my food memories of Finland are vivid summer ones - freshly smoked salmon, just-picked forest blueberries and moccasin-shaped Karelian pastries, all in a country so close to the Arctic Circle that the estival sun shines until midnight.
In winter, the script is entirely flipped. The freezing temperatures limit food options to meats, cured fish, root vegetables, pickles and preserves. The sea is iced over, so fresh fish - so abundant in the summer - is in short supply. And if snow is late, winter in Finland is an especially dark time. Perhaps that's the reason Scandinavians place such importance on the holiday season inside their homes."