Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Market

This year is the second or third year that Tampere has had a Christmas Market, or Joulutori. Tampere's is modeled after a German Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt).

The quality of the items sold at the market is quite high, and there's a lot to choose from. Along with many kinds of baked goods and foods, Finnish wooden baskets, and cooking utensils, felted wool ornaments and toys, and fine art prints and jewelry are some of what's available. There are vendors from Germany as well, selling bratwurst and candles, wooden Christmas figurines and lovely mustards in jars.

In this photo, Brooke is enjoying her German Bratwurst served on brotchen (a lovely, hard German roll).

The vendors had to be very well dressed for the weather, as most of them were un-heated. Closing early because of the cold is not an option - those who do are fined.

There's a small hut in which Santa receives visitors, an octagonal building in which Finnish sausages are cooked over a fire and sold and two places where you can sit down for a cup of coffee and sweets or a meal.

Santa Claus ( Joulupukki )

This gentleman, with the feather in his hat, was an official visitor from a German city who sent a few vendors to this year's market. I wonder if he really wears the feather cap on a daily basis.

After dark, the decorative lights, fires and the glowing ice sculpture make the market feel very cozy and festive even when it is very cold.

The photo above shows the ice sculpture when it was still being made. When it was completed, there were green, red and blue lights set up behind it, and musical notes were carved in the blocks of ice on the ground, as you see in the photo below.

If you are in Tampere in December, make it to the Joulutori!

Here's a video of some university students (note the white caps) singing a Christmas song in Finnish:

Bonus photos:

Cool gals in their cool coats.

On the first day the market was open, there was a small explosion. The fuel canister of one of the tall torches exploded out of its holding. The booming sound hit my chest hard, all the way across the main square. Luckily no one was standing in the way and there were no injuries. A fire crew as called - so here, you see some of Tampere's fire fighters, along with two security guards, on the right, from the market. The Finns seem very focused on safety, so it is a surprise to me that there are often open flames in public places. Small candles are left in lanterns outside shops, as are oil lamps and even torches. Their effects are lovely, but I do wonder if their beauty is worth the risks they pose.

A black smith peddles to add more oxygen to his fire.

I like the way the Old Church's bell tower, which is separate from the church, is lit in this photo. Analeise and I got to go inside it one night during the Christmas Market. Glögi (warm, sweet berry drink served with almond slivers and raisins) and Piparkakut (traditional Finnish crisp, ginger cookies) were being served. While we didn't get to hike up the steep wooden stairs to see the bells, we stood in the high entryway and enjoyed the ambiance of a place built in the early 1800's. One curiosity in the tower's entryway is a large, carved round wooden circle hanging as high as possible. It's slightly concave and is thought to be the original cover of the church's pulpit, perhaps hung in the bell tower during an early 1900's remodeling.

While this photo doesn't come from the market, it shows Analeise with the type of cookie I mentioned, Piparkakut. She made these in her cooking class at school. Thanks to Lydia for the awesome homemade hat!

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