Craving Christmas

I have spent much of the last 28 years bemoaning the appearance of tinsel and mince pies in October. I simply can’t handle so much Christmas.

This year, however, I’m craving Christmas something rotten. There is no Christmas in Istanbul. Or at least none that I can find (and no I don’t count the hollow commercial Christmas of Kanyon or Capitol, sorry). The Aya Sofya definitely does not look like this right now:


Of course, I’m not too surprised by this absence in a predominantly Muslim country. I am not a fool. And it’s not like I haven’t spent Christmas away from home before, either.

But in the past, I’ve always been with friends who do celebrate Christmas, and part of the fun has been in recreating it far from home. In Bangladesh, for example, we had a LOT of fun with cotton wool and spray-can ‘snow’ that came out a disturbingly purple colour. Santa even had an illicit Barons beer for all the good girls and boys in Dhaka.

This is the first year where I’m tasked with creating my own Christmas from scratch, and I’m lacking inspiration. Luckily, M is a willing Christmas supporter. But he needs direction. And I need help.

I need to come up with some ideas for how to bring Christmas to the ‘bul. All I’ve got so far is this:

  1. Play Christmas carols on a loop. This year, I’m particularly enjoying King’s College choir:
  2. Drink mulled wine.
  3. Put fairy lights on every conceivable surface in your house.
  4. Make a little space for Mariah Carey and The Pogues and Wham, but not too much. Keep it traditional.
  5. Drink more mulled wine.
  6. Make pepperkakor to hang on the Christmas tree (if we can find one that doesn’t cost the earth for 4 pine needles clinging miserably to a twig).

Those of you who also celebrate Christmas away from home, what are your top tips for recreating the magic? The above is not having the intended effect yet, and time is running out.