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Finland declares Christmas Peace against snowless backdrop

The 700 year-old tradition takes place in the country's first capital, Turku, and signals the official start of Christmas celebrations in Finland.

Turun kaupungin protokollapäällikkö Mika Akkanen julisti Joulurauhan perinteisin menoin Turun Vanhalla Suurtorilla jouluaattona 24. joulukuuta 2016.
An large and expectant crowd gathered at the city's main market square to follow the traditional announcement. Image: Roni Lehti / Lehtikuva

Moments after the bells of the Turku Cathedral tolled at noon on Christmas Eve, Turku protocol chief Mika Akkanen read the Declaration of Christmas Peace in Finnish and Swedish from the balcony of Brinkkala House overlooking Turku market square.

This year the ceremony took place in partly cloudy and mild conditions with no sign of snow on the ground, after much hand-wringing over whether or not southern Finland could expect a white Christmas.

The assembled crowd sang the Finnish national anthem in Finnish and Swedish. The Finnish Navy Band then struck up the March of the Pori Regmient, the honorary accompaniment of the Finnish Defence Forces and the President of Finland.

Although other Finnish cities have taken to staging their own Christmas peace declarations, the practice originated in Turku back in the 14th century in a bid to ensure that burghers' holiday revelries would not get out of hand.

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