Scandinavia is a collective name for Norway, Sweden and Denmark – the countries located in the Scandinavian Peninsula. Some reports also include Finland and Iceland in the list.
Originally a Viking region, Scandinavia slowly converted to Christianity around 1000 AD. With Christianity came the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is the time for celebration and prayer, for being thankful for God’s love. But beyond all religious and noble concerns it is also the time for decorating the house and the giving of gifts. Over years the colorful boxes under the sparkling Christmas tree has become the favorite Christmas tradition of most. Gifts mean shopping and shopping needs markets!
Scandinavia’s Christmas markets are some of the most beautiful and extensive Christmas markets anywhere in Europe. The Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen, Esplanade Park in Helsinki, the annual Christmas Markets in Oslo, the numerous Christmas markets in Stockholm and Santa Claus Village in Lapland are just a few examples.
1. Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen
Christmas in Tivoli is not a one day affair. It starts off in the beginning to mid November and continues until the thirtieth of December. This winter fairytale comes alive amidst more than five thousand meters of Christmas lights. Even the wind and snow nipping at the body under layers of coats cannot stop tourists and locals from flocking to the Tivoli Gardens where the annual Christmas celebration has become a family tradition. The Christmas tree stands high in front of the concert hall like the sparkling garnet on the necklace of lights around Tivoli Lake. More than seventy vendors set up stalls here during the Christmas festival, offering everything from decorations and gifts to food and drink. This year during Christmas there will be new rides like the Swing Carousel and Chinese lantern on offer at the Tivoli Garden. The Crazy Christmas Cabaret puts on a daily evening show at the Glass Hall. Almost a million shoppers make a beeline for the Christmas market in Tivoli every year. Though the market in Tivoli garden is the most famous in Denmark, the several other Christmas markets in the country give the tourist a flavor of the authentic Danish Christmas traditions. The Hans Christian Anderson Fair that is held in the city of Odense forces every visitor to take a trip back into childhood.
2. Esplanade Park in Helsinki
The St Thomas Christmas Market is held from the eighth of December until the twenty first every year at Esplanade Park in Helsinki. Being so close to the North Pole makes Helsinki look like a town straight out of the Christmas stories and fairy tales. Add to that the more than hundred and twenty stalls selling traditional Finnish Christmas treats and other gifts and handicrafts. Everything needed to put up a grand Christmas feeling at one’s own home is also available here. Among traditional Finnish foods to be found in the market are cream pastries and fried herrings. While the latter might be somewhat of an acquired taste, the cream pastries are going to fill the mouths and hearts of every one who eats them, with pure joy. Bigger items like skis and ice skates and great hats are also available at the St Thomas Market.
3. Oslo Christmas Markets
Like most of the Christian world, Oslo decks itself up in its best in December to celebrate the birth of Christ and to welcome the greatest gift giver of them all- Santa Claus. Numerous markets all over this capital city of Norway set the mood for the festivities. The City Hall Square holds an annual Christmas Market that is perfect for an evening out for both adults and children. Arts and crafts, presents, traditional Norwegian Christmas delicacies, and even drinks are all on offer here. The tents are beautifully lit giving the whole square a carnival-like atmosphere. The largest of these events is the Annual Christmas Fair held at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. This fair not only has numerous buying options it gives a glimpse into the history of Christmas celebration traditions in Norway. Another interesting market is the Designers’ Christmas market where Norwegian designers from all over the country come together to sell their creations. Everything from clothes and accessories to home decorations are available here.
4. Christmas markets in Stockholm
The Gröna Lund Christmas Market is widely considered to be Stockholm’s Tivoli Garden. Along with shops that sell everything Christmassy, are great rides, fun carousels, and an ice skating rink. The Street Designs and Handicrafts Christmas Market is the place to go to for quirky and imaginative Christmas gifts and food delicacies that come directly from the farmers market. The Drottningholm Palace Christmas Market is a short drive west of Central Stockholm and is held just outside the residence of the Swedish Royal Family. There is also an annual Christmas market at Stockholm’s most central park, the Kungsträdgården Christmas market.
5. Santa Claus Village in Lapland
If all of the best Scandinavian Christmas Markets do not infuse you with the Christmas spirit take a visit to the Santa Claus Village in Finland. Just eight kilometers from the Rovaniemi International airport at the crossing of the magical Arctic Circle lies Santa’s little village. Though there is no official Christmas market here the whole village is like a little shop of dreams. Other than buying Christmas merchandise a tourist can go on reindeer sleigh rides or try his hand at reindeer lassoing. The local people also invite guests to sample traditional Lapp cuisine.
So welcome to Scandinavia and happy Christmas shopping to you!
Photo of Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland originally posted by Vivi___