On Christmas Eve as many children the world over go to bed hoping that Santa Claus will visit them during the night, some youngsters in Finland prepare to meet good old St. Nick -- or one of his surrogates.
The Finnish tradition sees parents hire seasonal Santas to play the role of the snowy-bearded gift-giver to reward households' juniors for a year of good behaviour.
According to established custom, Santa rings the doorbell and asks if there are any nice children at home. He is then invited in to spend time with his hosts, distributing Christmas cheer and gifts to the young ones, who are always encouraged to thank Santa for their gifts.
However the occasion can be overwhelming for some young children, who may be taken aback by the physical presence of a costumed stranger in the home. Additionally, on some occasions in the past, Santa may have been imbibed a bit too much for the festive season, making for some awkward moments.
The practice provides a fair income for some of the round-bellied stand-ins, so much so, that earlier in December, Finnish tax authorities issued a reminder to Santa's alternates to remember to pay taxes on their Christmas earnings.
However, in spite of the looming shadow of the taxman, the Christmas Exe tradition seems set to remain a part of the Finnish Christmas experience for many years to come.