It is here. The madness has started. Difficult to ignore it now – Christmas is just around the corner.
The shops are buzzing. Everyone is buying last minute presents for aunts and uncles, dads and moms, close and far relatives, loved ones. Wrapping paper and shiny strings are being passed around in the shops, and you can almost touch Christmas. I am part of all this, courageously facing the endless lines, carrying bags full of thought through (and not so) presents, and transforming my living room into a wrapping-presents factory.
Part of the pre-Christmas plan, was going to the Brussels Christmas Market on Place St-Catherine and the Marché aux Poisson. 220 stands stretch from the Grand Place to Place St-Catherine, offering Christmas specials from around the world. Every year the world is invited to be part of this event. There is a stand from Canada (maple syrup, yes!), stands from France (Loire wines, yes!), from the UK (eggnog anyone?), Croatia or Argentina.
However the guest of honor this year is Finland. The setting is perfect, except for the snow. The regions of Oulu and Lapland brought Finland to Brussels. A huge tent dominates the center of the market, where you can try reindeer meet. There is Finnish schnaps on offer, mulled wine, and smoked salmon. Which not only tastes delicious, but you also have the opportunity to see the whole smoking process. An open fire, specially shaped salmon boards, brandy, a Finnish expert – and obviously, the cameras.
There are food stands, where we had blueberry, bison, duck and boar sausages, we tried eggnog, cheese (ohhh the cheese!), homemade jam, and chocolate. We tried Spanish mulled wine, German mulled wine – memories from the German Christmas Markets came back – and of course the Finnish one.
It is difficult to put in writing the atmosphere, or the laughter, the joy, and Christmas spirit. So if you happen to be in Brussels this time of the year, I can only really insist you go around the Christmas market as well. The market will continue until the 4 January, so why not start the New Year there with some oysters and champagne, a smile and (again) new resolutions?
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!