by Lydia Gei
We are all familiar with the quintessential Christmas tradition: a gathering of family and friends in a cosy home, dimly lit with a permeating warmth. An abundance of Christmas food, roasted turkey drizzled with gravy, the jolly log cake (Mmm chocolate), apple cider, ginger cookies, Christmas pudding, mince pie… laid-back chatter, filled bellies, a Christmas Eve Special on the tellie, a blinged up fir tree in a corner (preferably plastic for environmental concerns) and maybe a muffled carol or two from choristers outside if the wind blows in the right direction.
Certainly a house gathering may suffice to please the Christmas spirit, but the world lies right outside the threshold, and after years of heart-warming congregations you might want to explore a twist of tradition and venture outside. Outside doesn’t mean a post-Christmas-dinner leisurely walk to Orchard Road to admire the pretty lights strung up on trees and the fascinating lit-up wire sculptures, but rather an out-of-this-tropical-country experience into a true winter wonderland, in search of an authentic Christmas experience (which our country regretfully cannot imitate despite the terrible monsoon season).
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And where else for a truer Northern Christmas experience than Finland, the home of Santa Claus! As Santa and his elves are tipped into hysteria on the eve of Christmas, you could be shopping in Santa Claus Village, buying Swarovski crystals from Santa’s Topshop for your loved ones back home. Located a mere 8 kilometers from Rovaniemi in the Lapland region of Finland, the amusement park offers multiple attractions. You could take a photo with a white line denoting the Arctic Circle, which cuts right through the village. Visit the Santa Claus Post Office, where a deluge of hopeful letters from the young and the young-at-heart are directed to. Ride a reindeer or sip at the ice bar while the younger members of your tour group whisper secrets into Santa’s ear in Santa Claus’ office. Soak in the merry vibes, gaze at the snow-laden ground, and inhale the crisp, chilly air. At night, lights glow from the trees, rides and windows: a picture from a four year old’s imagination.
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For the more taciturn who simply want snow and would rather not spend part of your Christmas amid a bustling, enthusiastic crowd, the Finnish Lapland also offers cabins for rent. There, you may experience the breathtaking scenery of the region at your leisure, where acres of pristine snow and firs and their close relatives stretch on infinitely beyond the eye. Nature-lovers may also be keen for the wildlife packages offered, with guides through the Finnish wilderness and glimpses or even photograph opportunities with Finnish bears (probably less than keen to have their winter interrupted so rudely).
If you are spending your Christmas in Singapore, fret not for there are many exciting places to head to this Christmas as well!
Botanic Gardens is currently celebrating their 50th anniversary. They’ve planned many events for friends and family to spend the day or even the night out! Events include a night-time outdoor movie screening. Attending these events along with a simple picnic serve as great chance to strengthen relationships this Christmas season. Check out this website for more details: http://www.sbg.org.sg/calendar/regisform.asp?ID=826
For a truly authentic Christmas, you may head down to Snow City. Alternatively, go to The Rink at JCube. There, you’ll be able to learn how to ice-skate in an Olympic-size ice rink. They even have a Disco Night and Christmas Countdown this Christmas Eve (24 Dec) from 9.45pm to 12.30am! Other Christmas events at The Rink can be found here: http://www.therink.sg/happenings/events