Christmas markets puts front stage spotlight on Europe. If I could have an assignment and visit all of them , I would . Perhaps I can do this every year and show you how different each city displays their artisans or have you taste their seasonal cookies or cakes. It is just a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays. It is magical with a fairy-tale theme.
In December I had the pleasure to return to Italy with a short stop to Finland. This was going to give me a good chance to see a few of the markets.
First , I went to Naples, where I was excited to visit the Via San Gregorio street of nativity scene makers. Held in a very historical part of Naples, shops after shops of every possible nativity scene makers you can find. I loved to see how Neapolitans are proud of this colourful and animated tradition. I picked up a few ornaments for my Christmas tree , to bring home.
Furthermore , once in Naples, visit the Ferrigno Shop right on San Gregorio Armeno Street. It is an artisan shop in existence since 1836 located same historical area of Naples. you are astounded by the creations of tiny terracottas figurines to crib making for the Neopolitan Nativity Scene held in December .
If you have family in Naples, a gift of the cornicello will protect you from the evil eye or any bad luck. Avoid plastic ones as they are fakes from China.
In Finland my 2 stops was Helsinski and Rovaniemi. I can tell you that Finns love their Christmas.
There are over 100 kiosks of shops ranging from, artisans, cheese pies, jams, sweets and your chance to try Finnish food at an affordable price.The spirit of the market displays a festive & yuletide ambiance.
Rovaniemi , Finland
I flew to Rovaniemi Finland and stayed 2 nights. Rovaniemi is the gate way to The Santa Claus Village. What Walt Disney is to the Americans, the Santa Claus Village is the the Finns. It is a great place to bring children but adults can also benefit with their activities and spectatcular scenery of snow covered landscapes.
The emphasis is really going to the Village so browsing the street in Rovaniemi, unfortunately didn’t really see any markets .
My Favourite One is ?
I originally had planned to visit Tallin in Estonia when I was in Helsinski but I declined. Although it is very easy to get to Tallin through Helsinski I refused to make my experience rushed, so I could not add Tallin’s Christmas market.
Although Finns love their Christmas and I enjoyed the different types of food at the markets, I never felt it to be over touristy , something I despise and avoid. Perhaps they are so close to the North Pole one are just born into that Christmas Spirit . It is so sincere and genuine.
My pick for Christmas tradition and spirit has to be what I saw in Naples, Italy. Although this is open all year round, it is a good way to see them working on their craft.
The Neopolitans nativity includes caricatures from politicians, celebrity or any shepards. To me their creativity displays overall the essence of Neopolitan .sense of humour. This tradition is not only based on a Christmas tradition but an overall cultutal heritage from the Neopolitans.
I loved this tradition because I see the passions that revealed itself through their work . I loved the people, the language and all the sights and sounds surrounding the street. True, it is my cultural background, so perhaps this was a reminder what I loved growing up in a neopolitan household.