So I know this post comes a little late since Christmas was last month, but maybe it will cheer up some of you that are already missing the holidays. Christmas in the U.S. is definitely a spectacle with all the commercials that start in October, the crazy shopping in November, and all the hassle when those of use that live 1000 miles from home try to travel back. In Europe, or at least in the Catholic countries of in my current area, it appears to be more about getting together with friends and family and taking sometime to enjoy a drink and a snack. In Zagreb, the season was kicked off with the lighting of the Christmas decorations. Since I live in the center, I had these decoration virtually everywhere I went, which was great. It also meant that I began noticing their appearance in early November and waited for what seemed like weeks for them to be turned on. I may be biased because it's my neighborhood, but my favorite were these big read globes that they put up between the houses of my street. Perhaps I just liked them because it made the walk up this hill a bit more pleasant. The lights came on on December 1st so I spent the evening walking around with Amy and Jenn and enjoying the sights.
Above is my street, Radićeva, with the red Christmas Balls. While we see decorations similar to this in the USA, in Zagreb the season emphasizes Advent and yes, it's more than just a calendar filled with mini chocolates to count down to Christmas. This year Advent started on December 2nd because it is the 4 Sundays before Christmas. In Zagreb, there are plenty of activities planned including Christmas markets, concerts, and special exhibits in the city museums. I experienced very few of these things, mostly on account of trying to get my work done, spending too much time in the wine tent (see below), and going to hockey games. However, you can check out Zagreb's advent program at this website http://www.adventzagreb.com/ it also includes an English page (click the British flag on the right hand side).
This photo is a side street right off Cvjetni Trg, or the flower square. This square has a lot of flower vendors but more important, it also has the H&M and my main grocery store. Red, white, and blue are the national colors of Croatia, but we Americans like them too!
Also all of the main streets had these white lights. This street is just of the main square and the trees have the blue lights. This is a also a good photo of the trams in Zagreb (at least the newer ones). The picture below is of the main square and the wine tent. The wine tent opened before the lights turned on and quickly became on of our favorite spots to hang out. Inside is a stage for live music, plenty of mulled wine (both white and red), beer, and a good variety of hot sausages for a snack.
On the first night before Advent we stopped in the tent after perusing the lighted streets and the markets. It was a bit early so we were nice and comfortable but the tent quickly filled to the point where we couldn't get out, even if we wanted to. Turns out the band that was playing is pretty famous in this part of the world. We enjoying actually being able to understand some of the lyrics as our understanding of Croatian has improved significantly over the past few months. After doing a bit of research the next day, I learned the band is called BOA. You can learn a little more about them on Wikipedia if you google searc, unfortunately this is the only sight where information is in English.