Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Miss Christmas: Bring Back The Warmth.

I never thought I'd say this but I miss American Christmas. I have been in Slovenia for over a year now and I haven't seen any one bat more than one eye at any holiday. I mean it doesn't have to be the big consumerist exaggeration or the proliferation of bad holiday special, but where's the excitement? The lights? The music? The ostentatious window and lawn displays?

I mean, I'll give it to Ljubljana for having lights up, but they are the same lights from last year and they are mostly blue and yellow(??) instead of the traditional red and green we have going on America. I'll also give it to Radovljica for having a Christmas concert, but is that it?

I recently heard that the traditional pagan festival of lights occurred because were so cold and so missed the light and warmth of the sun that they tried to lure the sun back with their own tiny lights and fires. I'm getting no holiday spirit off people here. Someone please back in a truck of Christmas lights and tinsel at every house, people need the warmth (weather-wise and love-wise) here BIG TIME.


Iva said...

Slovenia is just different. You may disagree with me, but Christmas is, in fact, huge here. We just celebrate it more on the introvert side, within our family circle. Among my friends, it's getting quite intense to buy the right presents at the right time, to go to the right parties, to celebrate in style and such. I don't know about other cities, but my favorite months in Ljubljana are July, August and December - speaking of the last, it couldn't be any better. Music echoing in the old part, the intrusive scent of roasted almonds and mulled wine, the sense of happiness of the people drinking in the streets, the lights (yeah, they ARE the same as last year, actually they're the same for the past 9 years and I love them), the stalls along the river banks, the general Christmas spirit in the air ... This is THE season for us. We just display it in a different way, I guess.

Carlitos said...

Hey, wait! I don't think they're the same lights as last year's. I think I would remember the huge amount of sperm-meets-egg alegories from previous years!

Jokes aside, I love Ljubljana in December, even when I don't drink wine, nor eat anything they sell at the riverside stalls. It's just a let's-go-watch-the-people thing, I guess.

And Trust me Camille on this, in Buenos Aires (my home town) Christmas is simply backwards. Can you imagine eating very rich food at midnight with blistering 36 degrees Celsius? Or hanging lights from your balcony, when the sun sets at 9 o' clock?


Lisa said...

I loved Lj last Christmas, we had so much fun. And the lights are neat, but confusing: I could swear the press office was announcing that each year "a different artist designs a unique light show" and we were like, uh, hello? those are the same as the previous year. :)

Iva said...

@lisa: maybe they thought different as in "different" :D same same, but different ... hehe

Alex said...

@ Iva: Really? I don't know anyone who really cares about Christmas in Slovenia - I definitely never thought that it was something huge (apart from for the religious folk, so mainly in the countryside). So the attitude to the holiday here in the UK is rather surprising to me and seems way over the top. I mean, Christmas carols in November? Get off it!

Yep, the lights are pretty, but that's pretty much all there is to it. It's certainly never been a habit amongst my friends to buy presents for each other.
(I'm not sure about this year, as I haven't been home in a few months, but there was a different light design every year in the past. Might be the same lights, but the placement varies.)

The New Year is much bigger and more important than Christmas in Slovenia, as far as I can tell.

Iva said...

@Alex: Yeah, it might be just me and my observations. But trust me - as someone who has birthday RIGHT ON christmas day, my findings are grounded on the fact that I was probably the most miserable kid when it comes to BDay parties. Noone was ever there to meet and greet cos they were with their families. :D And no change this year, I'm afraid. The ones that are not from Ljubljana, go home for the holidays. This is where I draw my conclusions from. Our family is far from being religious (I'm not even baptised) but each year Christmas is a big deal - baking enough piles of cookies, inviting over our oh so many relatives, chilling the wine, decorating the tree ... This is my world. :) You're right on the lights thing, their constellation does change every year, but some of the artifacts are exactly the same. And I also second that on the new year's thing, that's big for sure. I just wouldn't debunk Christmas, that's all. :)

jana said...

I lived in the center of Ljubljana for 6 out of the last 8 years and I'd say that I had the impression that they do small upgrades on the lights every year (or rather, lighting "sculptures" scattered around Prešernov trg and Štritarjeva). C'mon, do you buy new lights for your Christmas tree every year? Doesn't hanging up the same lights and ornaments help make it a tradition?:)
I remember last year hearing some statistic on how much the city spends just on the electricity alone for all those lights, and it is a pretty astonishing figure.
There was a time when Zvezda Park had more life ... there was an ice rink for kids and a cafe ... but for the past few years it hasn't been around (political reasons you can be sure). This year, there are new stands along the riverside as well as a handful of them in Zvezda Park. I'd say they look pretty smart and cozy.
I love that in Slovenia we can celebrate 3 separate "events" in the Christmas season -- Miklavš, Božič and Dedek Mraz -- they don't call it "Veseli december" for nothing ;-)
But one of the things that I miss the most -- the children's Christmas tv shows like LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS (see http://www.tvparty.com/xmas2.html) but with youtube ... some of that homesickness is abated.
I also recommend checking out the Christmas markets in nearby Celovec, Trst, Udine ...