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Be prepared: Check this year’s Christmas holiday reminders

The Christmas holiday period will bring changes to schedules for commercial services as well as public transportation. Be sure to check service providers’ websites for more detailed information.

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Image: Pasi Takkunen / Yle

Many stores will open their doors on Christmas Eve, Wednesday from as early as 7.00 am. Service hours will end at about noon. They will remain closed on Christmas and Boxing Day, December 26. However smaller convenience stores with an area of 400 square metres or less may serve customers for four hours between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm on Boxing Day.

Micro retailers with a floor space of 100 square metres or less, such as corner stores, kiosks or flower shops attached to service stations also have permission to open for business on Christmas Day. In other cases, stores with special permits to open on public holidays – such as businesses serving tourists – will open their doors during the holiday period.

The Christmas season has seen almost all Posti outlets remain open past 8.00 pm on weekdays. However they will not provide service between December 23 and 26, except in the case of the main post office in Helsinki, which will serve customers until 12.00 noon on Christmas Eve.

Outlets of the national alcohol retailer Alko will open for business on December 23 between the hours of 9.00 and 8.00 pm. However the grog provider will close its doors from December 24 to 26, and will next serve the public on Saturday December 27.

Holidaymakers looking to travel by rail should be aware that the state railway VR will cut back on inter-city services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Trips will begin from noon on December 24 and there will be no train services from 6.00 pm. On Christmas Day, rail services will begin from 10.00 am. VR is advising commuters to check its website for more precise holiday timetables.

Commuter train services in the capital region will run according to Saturday schedules on Christmas Eve until about 4.00pm, after which trains will become more irregular. The last train will leave Helsinki at 5.30 pm on Christmas Eve.

VR will provide only intermittent train services in the capital on Christmas Day. Trains will mostly observe Sunday schedules from 11.00 am onwards; during the evening commuter services will run according to weekend schedules.

Commuters looking to move around by bus should also brace for big schedule changes, particularly since many route services will be cancelled altogether on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Bus travelers should check all holiday timetables on the website of the inter-city provider Matkahuolto.

Children and young adults who find themselves in need of counseling during the holiday week can contact the Mannerheim Child Welfare League's hotline between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm. Trained counselors will be on hand to listen and provide support for persons under the age of 21. The contact number for this free service is 116 111.

The majority of the country’s shelters will provide round the clock services for those in need during the holidays. Persons looking to flee domestic violence situations can find secure shelter at any time of the day or night. Individuals who feel they are at risk can find the contact information for their nearest shelter on the website of the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters.

With a white Christmas forecast for most of the country, the Automobile and Touring Club (Autoliitto) has launched Operation Snowflake to assist motorists who run into trouble while on the road. The organisation has mobilised a cadre of volunteers who are on standby to help drivers in any part of the country. They can be reached by calling 0200 8080 (calls cost 1.95 euros/minute + service charges).

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