Looking back: Jule favourites
Deep in the archives of three years ago is this favourite Christmas season post of mine and reposted here almost fully:
My favourite things about Christmas are the things that appeal to the romantic and the child in me. I love the visual delights of little white lights, red candles, evergreens, snow, red berries, pine cones and red folk embroidery on linens. I love exquisitely illustrated childrens' books like Jan Brett's The Wild Christmas Reindeer, something I bought just for myself to enjoy every Christmas.
I love Christmas music, especially when sung by young voices like Heintje (O Tannenbaum), romantic voices from the 40's and 50's like Doris Day, Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby (I Dream of a White Christmas), or powerful operatic voices.
Virtual Finland's Christmas appeals to the romantic and the child. Visit Santa or "Joulupukki" in his gorgeous clothes, with his elves and reindeer in Lapland (that's where Santa lives, didn't you know?). Look at the lovely cards from Christmases past and recipes for traditional Finnish Christmas foods. I also love these little Finnish folk poems about the little animals in the wintry woods (click on 'lorupiha' then each creature, in Finnish only but sounds interesting).
We are busy preparing the house, the decorations, the gifts, and all the favourite foods for our family Christmas of blended traditions. Christmas Eve is our big night, a tradition with both the Finns and the Germans, with a lovely meal, carols around the piano, and then Santa's visit, so carefully planned to happen out of sight of little children. Oh, such excitement! Happy childhood memories evoked by all the sights, sounds and tastes and watching the shining happy eyes of another generation (a grandchild) make Christmas special for me.
What can I add this year? Two things come to mind. One is another grandchild now 2, who with her 7-year old sister makes up a lively happy pair through whose eyes we can experience the awe and the joy of this season. Otherwise we might be a bit jaded by it all now, hmm? Secondly, I must mention a beautiful music CD, already quite old, from our modest collection: Vienna Noel with Placido Domingo, Sissel Kyrkjebo and Charles Aznavour. The Norwegian Sissel is absolutely divine and angelic, fitting beautifully with the equally great male singers. My heart soars at every listening!
If I were in Europe, I'd love to go to the traditional Christmas Markets. On one of his business trips many year ago, my husband was in Austria before Christmas. He brought back many lovely handmade tree ornaments that we treasure. I learned that Helsinki has a Christmas Market too. This could be another favourite!
What are your favourite things this time of year, dear readers? I hope you take great pleasure in them as you prepare for the holidays!
UPDATE Dec.23, 2007: Just read this in our weekend newspaper, A land of Christmas: "For hundreds of years, the towns of Germany have celebrated the yuletide season with markets filled with the produce of local artisans..." Exactly what I dream of visiting!