Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Time

There is no standing in line at 4am the day after Thanksgiving for the best bargain of the season. There is no jolly ole St. Nick to listen to your list of wishes. There is no frantic fury of gift buying on the eve of Christmas. There are no parking attendants in Santa suits directing scores of SUVs, driven by harried shoppers, into over crowded mall parking garages.

But it's Christmas time here just the same. The subtle hints of the season popping up everywhere from market squares to the grocery stores. My favorite signs of the season are:
  • With the coming of holiday meals, the grocery store has an entire line of "Feest Dagen" foods. Extra dark chocolate spread for crepes and toast, special kaas stengels, rich soups, candied breads, flavored brie, and Christmas tree shaped chicken nuggets are just a few of the treasures that have shown up in the gorcery store over the past few weeks. The Christmas meal must be a fancy affair over here, because there are also wonderful prepared horderves, amuses, stuffed/spiced/marinated meats, and even fancy cauliflower! The best time to buy all this food is the morning of Christmas Eve, when almost all of it is going 35% off (because the grocery stores actually closes from Christmas Day 1 & 2).
  • Almost every town square is transformed into an outdoor ice skating rink! Hopefully, weather permitting, this is where we will be on Christmas day - skating in the park with warm Christmas wine. Don't worry mom, the rink aren't schedule to close until after you visit!
  • The streets of town are lit up with Christmas lights. In Delft there is a party in the town square called Lichtjesavond, where they light the Christmas tree for the first time. It was a lovely evening with music from the Delft symphony, dancers, torch bearers, and a small Christmas market.
I am sure next year I will be in line again at 4am the day after Thanksgiving, but it has been nice to have a low key holiday this year.

1 comment:

Matt said...

The entertainment at the Christmas tree lighting was really cool and (in my opinion, anyway) not particularly Christmas-like. There weren't just torch bearers - there were fire breathers. Other performers walked on stilts, including some that looked to be dressed as a cross between the Silver Surfer and Gonzo. It was all part of a freedom-themed Amnesty International event. According to The Hague Online, between 40-45 thousand people were there.