Dec 2nd – Julmarknad at Skansen
Julmarkad, or Christmas Markets, are happening in so many places I can’t keep them all straight. Even a “10 best” list is too many because they only happen on weekends and with kids you can only choose so many in a season, so at best I can make it to 3 or 4 before Christmas. And I already missed one weekend, oh the horror! (But I do appreciate the narrowing down, thank you 10 best list!)
We’ve only been to Skansen now, which is billed as a handicraft market with a more traditional focus. Skansen is an open-air museum and Zoo in Stockholm on Djurgården. It has buildings from a wide range of Swedish history and we’re excited to check it all out. But it’s HUGE. It is an overwhelming experience without the Christmas market, but wow the crowds. Just wow.
I was expecting an outdoor, more homey and authentic version of Portland’s ScanFair, or maybe something like the Portland Saturday Market but more adorably Swedish. In many ways it was much as I imagined though far more mass-produced items and far less handicraft than I hoped for. But there was some handicraft. We found a birch box maker, a few needlework art stalls (embroidery on pillows mostly), candle makers, some wooden items. And it’s possible that maybe, just maybe we missed a few things behind the throngs of people in the way.
There were bakeries selling all the goodies that are sold in every bakery in Sweden right now. (Did I mention people seem to do things like everyone else here?) The treats typically include bulla, or buns, in a few flavors. Cinnamon, cardamom, and during Christmas, saffron. Christmas also brings gingerbread, warm apple cider and glögg, thank God for the glögg. There were cheese makers and sausage makers and fish smokers. Horses with bells pulling carriages to give people tours of the large campus.
In the middle of the market was a stage with a large Christmas tree and periodically the band would strike up and in good pagan fashion, everyone danced around it! And since the sun has long since set by the time they close at 4pm, it feels very middle-of-the-long-winter-night at 3pm or so.
And it was cold, so cold. We sent our Norwegian friend Tine home early to warm up because even her lips were turning purple! To help, they had lit fires every so many meters; large ones people could sit and enjoy drink around, small ones to just warm up your hands along the way. There were little houses to duck into showing life in different locations and ages, often with a warm fireplace inside. There was a ceramic shop, a shoemaker, a silversmith, a furniture maker, a printing press, and so much more that we would have seen had our kids not been complaining most of the time.
Felix’s favorite parts were the playground and the section designed for small children that had an indoor small-mammal exhibit. His favorite displays were the rats and the hissing cockroaches. Doesn’t that just warm your Christmas heart? Can’t wait to see what he puts on his list for Santa now that we no longer have pets here…* Oh who am I kidding, all that kid wants is Legos. It’s Freja who is going to be bringing home stray creatures and begging for a pet.
*(BJ is in Wimberely with Cora’s mom for those who didn’t know. He’s doing really, really well. Retirement suits him as does vet-acupuncture ranch-house calls that he’s being treated to!)
We sat down for a dinner of meatballs for the kids and goulash for the mamas. Apparently, goulash is Swedish for “Chili with a few random spices that shouldn’t be there thrown in”. Or it was at Skansen. I think they read the recipe for Chili somewhere and put in both Kumin and Spiskumin to be safe. An easy mistake. Kumin is Carraway (what the what?!) and Spiskumin is Cumin. One is essential to chili, the other, not so much.
We checked out the incredible views and hit the gift shop one last time as we made our way home. We walked via the shopping district, the outskirts of it anyway. Included are some pictures of the city lit up. I’m sure there will be more. On our way, we tried to make it to the lost and found of the bus system to look for Freja’s “longhorn.” It’s a beloved monkey that she tossed out of the stroller, we think on a bus, a week ago. It takes a week to collect lost and found, so this was the first day it would have been there. They were closed so we jumped on the T at T-Centralen and rode home to Bagarmossen. We’ll send someone over tomorrow. We were so exhausted from the crowds that we had the traditional Swedish dinner of pancakes. No, really, they serve that as a kids meal here, for dinner. Yesterday we had tacos. Everyone in Sweden eats Tacos on Friday. KAJ even made a music video about it. Since we are game to eat tacos just about everyday, we had tacos. I can’t say the traditional Swedish taco is something to write home about, though. We need to import some Por Que No? or Austin breakfast taco makers STAT. They could teach everyone a thing or two about tacos!! And now I’m going to watch the TV advent calendar episode for today and get Felix off to bed. Happy second day of Advent!