In an agricultural society, the end of the year came naturally at the end of the harvest. The New Year celebration in the autumn was known as kekri (or köyri, keyri). Originally, the jubilation was not settled on a particular day. It depended on the yearly weather conditions and the progress of work, and it could vary from late summer to late autumn.
Kekri was the equivalent of yuletide and the New Year. Most of our Christmas and New Year traditions derive from the celebration of Kekri. As Christmas grew more important, the secular Kekri became less popular. A typical Kekri involved massive feasting and drinking. People remembered their dead by offering them food. One popular Kekri tradition was to dress up as a female kekritär or as a kekri buck with horns, knock on people’s doors and ask for food and drink. The connection of Kekri and All Saints’ Day was established in the 19th century. Since 1955, Finland has celebrated All Saints’ Day on the first Saturday in November.
Sources (in Finnish):
Juhannus ajallaan. Juhlia vapusta kekriin. Toim. Juha Nirkko. Jyväskylä 2004.
Suuri perinnekirja. Toim. Satu Aalto. Hämeenlinna 2005.
Vilkuna, Kustaa: Vuotuinen ajantieto. Keuruu 2002.