The box of Christmas decorations has come out and I am starting to put the house into a Christmas mood. Each time I go out for a walk I count how many houses look festive; I should really go for a walk after dark to enjoy the lights, but I’d rather get out when there is a little sunshine. I am happy to see the bright colours brightening up the winter days, but I miss the markets I would normally visit at this time of the year.
November should be the time for the first of my Christmas markets. What used to be a small event at the Finnish church in London has now expanded into a Scandi fair extending to the Norwegian church. In between the two churches is a corridor of stalls from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Clothes, slippers, glass, wood, seasonal decorations and all sorts of wonderful things to eat.
If I lived in London, I would visit for lunch and come back for tea for each of the three days so I could try more different things. It’s probably better that I only get to visit once a year, as there’s only so much I can take away: Christmas chocolate, rye bread, cinnamon buns, bottles of gloggi.
As this annual event is as much pilgrimage as shopping expedition, there are certain things that have to happen, coffee and cinnamon buns, and lunch of reindeer, mash and lingonberry jam. Pea soup is lovely as well, but I can get tins of soup to take away.
This year the market has been cancelled and the Finnish church has had to go online with its festivities. Some things are available by post, but anything fresh requires local collection, so I will probably treat myself to some geisha chocolate and try and get organised enough to try and make cinnamon buns at home.
But food aside, what I really miss is the friendly people at the market, all sharing a little of their homeland and their culture with curious visitors and homesick countrymen alike. Locked down and unable to travel, the world feels very small and restricted.