Christmas Market, Tallinn
In just the few years since it was started in 2000, Tallinn's Christmas Fair in the Town Hall Square looks set to become a tradition that will attract winter visitors from afar.
Christmas decorations and candles, carved wood, linens, weaving, items of knitwear of every description -including gossamer fine scarves and shawls, glass and ceramics, toys and Christmas trees, birch brooms and sauna flails are just a some of the things you'll find in the gaily painted little huts of Tallinn's Christmas market. Centred around an enormous Christmas tree surrounded by over 60 huts, each with its own proprietor, the fair is open every day from 10am to 7pm from late November right up to Christmas Day.
Hot soup and sandwiches and the inevitable sausages as well as hot spiced cider and mulled wines keep shoppers and browsers warm while musicians and Santa add to the entertainment..
If even the mulled wine can't keep you warm enough to stay outside, you can find more goodies for sale in the cellar of the Town Hall, where the "Marzipan and Honey Bazaar" sets up its wares - with the emphasis here on more earth-motherly crafts such as hand-made soaps, beeswax candles, felt hats, Setu lace, herbal teas, Christmas bread and the like. There's a little cafe serving coffee and cakes. It's all a bit more home-spun but the quality is excellent and if you're looking for something a little different, you certainly should pop in.
Christmas Market in the main square
What to buy: We love markets and enjoy collecting crafts on our travels, but face the perennial problem of where to put it all without transforming the house into a curio store. So, for what it's worth, this is my solution ...
Our Christmas tree has always been the focal point of our family - my German grandmother was the first person to have a Christmas tree in my Dad's home village in Ireland back in the 1930s, and some of my most prized possessions are a few of her homemade ornaments which I religiously place in pride of place on my tree each year. When I left home, my own mother gave me a 'starter pack' of decorations from our childhood tree to start my own (a tradition that I will continue with my own kids) and I have been collecting ever since!
Everywhere we go, we buy something for our tree - we're not purists, so it doesn't necessarily need to be colour coordinated or even Christmas themed (there are, for example, balsa wood humming birds from Peru, a wooden orang utan from Borneo and pottery figures from the Czech Republic), but when we put up our tree, it is a very special ritual that celebrates our family identity (of which travel is a huge part!). Should you wish to take a peak at some of the components of this eclectic mix, have a look at the travelogue on my personal profile page.
The photo details our 'haul' from our recent tip to Tallinn. We loved the knitwear (see my travel tip) and fell in love with the painted wooden ornaments. I am quite sure that a (suspiciously friendly-looking) Viking is not conventional Christmas-tree fare, but it's OUR tree, so who cares!
Coming from Britain, I am used to the robin being the 'Christmas bird' (well, other than turkey, but that's another issue). Yet all the bird-related ornaments we saw in Estonia featured the bullfinch (also red breasted, but somewhat bigger) - perhaps someone can illuminate me as to why this might be? Do robins not occur that far north, or does the bullfinch have some particular cultural significance?
I was hoping to find more christmas decorations and more people selling christmas- decorations and such. It was quite boring (I´m sorry) if you ask us. There was all the same kinds of sweaters and amber jewellery as in many place around the year. Only difference is the glühwein sellers at the market. I think I wont go at december any other time. I will rather do my next trip at summer.
What to buy: If you like amber, buy it. And maybe also the sweaters and mittens and socks.
What to pay: I´m not sure, I didn´t find much intresting things in there.