Last Sunday, the Christmas lights were illuminated in Debrecen’s main square. If the sun must set at 3:40 PM, at least cheery lights brighten up the darkness.
The Karácsonyi Vásár (Christmas Market) is also now open for business. The smells of lángos, roasted chestnuts, and hot wine fill the square. Stalls are filled with advent wreaths, wrapping paper, candles, and the usual assortment of wooden swords, traditional pottery, and leather belts that we became familiar with at various festivals a few months ago.
Debrecen’s market is diminutive compared to Vienna’s or the famed markets of Germany, but I am delighted that we don’t have to get on a train to enjoy a traditional European Christmas Market. I am lucky enough to teach in a high school next to the Big Church, and I can wander around the Market during my breaks.
Although the Christmas market is uniquely European, the department stores and malls represent the familiar Christmas commercialism. If the signs weren’t in Hungarian, I could pretend I was in Meijer and not InterSpar.
Along with displays of Christmas chocolate, a strange display for the Spar Premium products appeared featuring Pierce Brosnan. I am not sure how they settled on him as the celebrity to advertise these wares. I guess the idea is that James Bond would only endorse Premium food. The photos, however, looks suspiciously generic. I wonder if he’s even aware that his photo is being used for this advertising campaign?
Jesse and I have deliberated about what Christmas decorations to buy for our flat. We perused decorations at InterSpar and Praktiker (a Do-It-Yourself type store like Lowes), but didn’t commit to anything. Yesterday morning we trudged down the street through a light rain to a neighborhood flower shop. There I found the perfect wreath:
We also bought a poinsettia, which will undoubtedly last until Easter.
The owner of the flower shop was delighted to help us.
“You no speak Hungarian, I no speak English, no problem!” she exclaimed and proceeded to point out items we might be interested in. Given how limited my Hungarian vocabulary is, we had quite an extensive conversation as she tenderly wrapped the flowers in plastic.
She is proud of her work. During warmer weather, we saw her sitting outside making wreaths, so we know that our snowman wreath is her own handiwork. I was happy to support a small business owner, and we left the shop feeling warm with Christmas cheer.