A Heka home in Herttoniemi is filled with lights, scents and a festive atmosphere at Christmas time

You can get into the Christmas mood with just a little effort. For the Dolk Viksten family, who live in Herttoniemi, Christmas is present throughout the autumn.

Written by Pi Mäkilä Photos by Sami Heiskanen

The gentle scent of hyacinths wafts through the air and peaceful Christmas music plays in the background. 

– The scent is actually frankincense. It is well suited for Christmas, because the Magi brought it as a gift on the very first Christmas, says Henna Dolk Viksten, who opens the door.

The Dolk Viksten family living on Siilitie in Herttoniemi have been waiting for Christmas since the summer. In addition to the Christmas scents, Christmas atmosphere is created with candles, and the fairy lights glistening on the balcony light up the dark evenings. As Christmas approaches, the number of decorations increases, and the walls are adorned with advent calendars and elf decorations. 

Christmas decorating is a joint activity for Henna and 12-year-old Hertta, and they turn on and light various Christmas lights and candles together as Christmas gets closer. 

– The Christmas lights go on as soon as the evenings start to get dark. However, we only get the actual advent candles out on the First Advent Sunday, Henna says.

Parvekkeella eri värisiä jouluvaloja, taustalla kerrostalo ja piha-alue hämärässä.
The balcony of the Dolk Viksten family often gets Christmas lighting as early as October.

Christmas includes presents and calming down

According to Henna and Hertta, the best thing about Christmas is spending time together as a family. Wrapped presents are also an essential part of preparing for Christmas.

– We love playing the part of Christmas elves. Buying and giving presents is really fun, Hertta says.

Henna also likes to invest in wrapping.

– I love giving presents and tend to buy them well in advance. It’s a delight to give beautifully wrapped presents, Henna says.

The family like both the happy festive atmosphere and the spiritual side of Christmas. They go to church at Christmas and set up a nativity scene inherited from Henna’s mother.

– Christmas is, above all, a great celebration and involves our gratitude for everything we have. During the holidays, we spend time together and calm down, but we also strive to share the good. An essential part of our Christmas traditions is charity, and we like to wrap gifts for the Salvation Army and Hope ry, among others. 

Kolme ikonia ja kaksi tuikkukynttilää seinällä olevalla tasolla.
Christmas is above all a spiritual celebration in the Dolk Viksten family. Icons and candles are visible in the home.

The family of musicians spend the time before Christmas at dozens of Christmas concerts

There is also a practical reason for the Dolk Vikstens’ Christmas enthusiasm. The whole family work with music both professionally and as a hobby, so under normal circumstances, they practise their numbers for various Christmas concerts from the beginning of autumn. 

 – I once calculated that there were more than 50 different Christmas concerts during the autumn. And it’s really fun. It doesn’t bother me at all to sing the same Christmas carols dozens of times. This year, there are only a couple of Christmas concerts, so the time before Christmas is quite different to before, says Henna, who works as a choirmaster.

As a by-product of Christmas concerts, the family’s home may be filled with flowers received at the concerts. 

– We do not really change our Christmas decorations – we keep them pretty much the same from year to year. Instead, the number of flowers varies, Henna laughs.

In addition to concerts and decorations, the Dolk Viksten family prepare for Christmas by baking. Baking ginger snaps and joulutorttu pastries, in particular, is one of their must-have Christmas traditions together.

Pieni vaaleanpunainen kynttelikkö pöydällä. Takana sekalaisa tavaroita.
Christmas decorations can also be added to children’s rooms. A small candelabra can be put on a shelf, for example.

The family of musicians often head to the countryside for Christmas Eve. The spruce in the yard of their cabin in Kotka is then decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments.

– We used to get a traditional Christmas tree, but last year I started thinking that it was pretty sad that a tree had to be felled from the forest just for that. We have just the right kind of spruce in the yard of the cabin, so it was just as fun to hang decorations on it as it was on a Christmas tree inside, Hertta says.

Lipaston päällä tonttukoriste ja pieni huonekuusi ruukussa.
Try creating a Christmas atmosphere with a Norfolk pine instead of a traditional Christmas tree.