Tuesday, 13 December 2016
The holiday season seems to sneak up on me when we're living in countries without the four distinctive seasons. For this Canadian, dark mornings and afternoons and chilly temperatures have me yearning for Christmas to bring a little joy to the discomforts. While the afternoons now have us reaching for cardigans as the sun goes away (hard to believe 25 degrees is feeling cool to us these days) it just doesn't signal "Christmas" to me.
That said, I'm quite surprised by the amount of holiday paraphernalia around the city. I had expected Christmas in the Middle East to be lacking in the Christmas spirit department but we are pleasantly surprised to find it all over the place. Shopping malls are adorned in decorations and Christmas trees. Santas are popping up all over the place and the big hotels are hosting tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas markets. In the past week, we attended the St Regis tree lighting complete with gluwein (with alcohol,) carols, and homemade cookies. We also spent an afternoon at the Swiss Christmas Market with little wood huts, beer on tap, raclette and hot chocolate. Sure, it was set with beach chairs in the background but it did feel quite Christmassy. This weekend we're hoping to check out a Marina market famous for it's 'real' snow!
The week we moved into our apartment I came across a recommendation from a neighbour touting Canadian Christmas trees on order so without hesitation, I put my name down for a 6-7 foot Balsam Fir from Quebec. It arrived in the UAE on the weekend so for the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, a long weekend here, we drove down to the flower shop to pick up our tree and despite being bundled up on a boat for a couple of months, it is actually the fullest, real tree we've ever had. And it smells divine.
So our stockings are hung and our apartment is full of tree needles and we're feeling mostly prepared for our first Christmas in the Middle East. One which I thought might not look much like the holidays we're used to but is actually shaping up to be quite festive.
Whether you are at home bundled up fireside or abroad with your Santa hat amongst the abayas, we wish you a very happy holiday season.