Monday, December 8, 2014

Decked out for Christmas in Stockholm

Chrismas market / Julmarknad in Old Town / Gamla Stan in Stockholm  |  Christmas in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |

Growing up in New York and coastal Virginia, Christmas decorations were heavy on the multi-colored strings of lights and lit-up figurines of Santa Claus, his sleigh and reindeer, and a bevy of spectacularly-wrapped presents. There were also nativity scenes and Bethlehem stars and sweet candles lighting up the windows, but on the whole, the decorating styles were equally represented or perhaps a little more than slightly edging towards the kitschy side.

But one of the (many) things I adore about northern Europe is how it dresses up for the holidays—there's a bounty of white lights (my favorite), Christmas markets in the shadow of buildings constructed hundreds and hundreds of years ago filled with loads of handmade and locally-crafted gifts, and the majority of decorations embrace and celebrate the wintry landscape: miniature bulbs that flicker on and become animals that roam mountaintops and snow-covered woods, rustic straw figurines of goats, oranges studded with cloves hanging from doors and windows, and craft paper stars that look homey instead of glamorous are everywhere you look. It feels so festive and more in tune with the solstice, hibernation, and the way generations before us survived the darkest months of the year versus the commercialized aspect (which of course still exists here, but it doesn't feel as strong to me, or at least not yet).

My family's tradition (which R and I followed living in New York) was to bring down all the Christmas decorations from the attic and carry home our Christmas tree from the "farm" (the local grocery store's parking lot) on Thanksgiving. While R's family's tradition is the same as ours in that they also always have their biggest celebration on the 24th, they're different (more Swedish) in that they don't bring home their tree until the week of Christmas. Right now my in-laws' apartment has tiny pots of hyacinths on the verge of blooming while poinsettias are already flashing their deep red splendor, Advent candles lined up in a neat little row, and red paper stars and electric candles gleaming from their spot hanging in front of the windows and lining the windowsills, but we still have a few more weeks to go before trimming our tree.

In a way, though, I'm glad we still have something to look forward to this dark month of December. And in the meantime, herds of roaming Christmas moose tramping through the city are spreading their wintry cheer and lighting up the night.

Chrismas moose in Stockholm  |  Christmas in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |

As are the lights trimming the sail lines of the boats in the marinas—all of which combine to make the moody afternoons quite a bit more festive and cheery.

(All of these photos were taken around 3PM.)

Chrismas boats in Stockholm's Nybrokajen  |  Christmas in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |
Chrismas boats in Stockholm's Nybrokajen  |  Christmas in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |
Chrismas boats in Stockholm's Nybrokajen  |  Christmas in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |

One year ago: The days are long, but the years are short & Hello, December
Two years ago:  A bit more on AIRE & Facial (t)oils & Fondue femmes

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