The New Year

New Year’s resolution numba one: post more blogs.

I somehow managed to go blog-less throughout the entirety of December. Ouch. Well, here begins Part A of my Sparknotes version of late November and December 2010. (Yes, Sparknotes, not Cliffnotes. Sparknotes has pictures, and is thus infinitely superior).

The week after Thanksgiving, my friend and I decorated the pastel walls of our rooms in the foyer with tacky Christmas decorations, baked lots n’ lots of cookies, watched fabulously cheesy Christmas movies, and found ways to work detours to the local Christmas market into all of our outings.

Ah, the Christmas market: a typical Christmas tradition in France, drawn largely from Germanic culture. The typical Christmas market, in its full glory, is a collection of vending stalls shaped like miniature snow-topped cabins, selling everything from vin chaud (the most delicious beverage I’ve ever tasted: red wine mixed with a variety of spices, and orange peels), roasted chestnuts, crepes, waffles, paninis, regional sweets, chocolates, jewelry, pottery, and  Santa hats. Adorable. Yesterday, only the skeletons of the vending booths remained.

During the past month, I like to think that I’ve become quite the Christmas market master. Over the course of the Christmas season, I visited the market in Lille more times than I can recall, brushing elbows with the many British tourists who frequent Christmas markets in Northern France, and riding the nearby market Ferris wheel at least four times, enjoying several postcard moments, perched at the top of the wheel with all of Lille sprawled out beneath me. In Strasbourg, the beautiful capital of the Alsace region, sandwiched perfectly between France and Germany, my friends and I managed to run into almost every Christmas market multiple times. Strasbourg, aptly entitled the Christmas capitol, has been hosting Christmas markets since the 16th century, and consequently has a multitude of markets spread across the city, which range in size, products, and entertainment (accordion-players, drummers, and guitarists, oh my). Lastly, we visited the market in Paris, which runs along the Champs Elysées. Out of all of the markets I visited, this was, unsurprisingly, the most touristy. I managed to get grossly ripped off for a waffle, and elbowed in the side by a few unapologetic Parisians and tourists before I finally conceded, realizing that even I wasn’t up for the Paris Christmas market experience.

Essentially, post-Thanksgiving, I went Christmas-crazy. Outside of class, I became a decorating, baking, Christmas market fiend. In class, as a Teaching Assistant, I gave presentations on American Christmas traditions, introduced the higher-level students to classic movies and music, and taught as many Christmas carols as time permitted. Translating “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” into French for my 6ème students proved to be one of the most entertaining and challenging procedures I’ve ever undertaken.

To come: December Sparknotes Part B: Edinburgh, Dusseldorf, Strasbourg, and Paris. Oh la.

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