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I once visited a winter market in Vienna, Austria. Everywhere the smell of spice, cinnamon and Christmas! Twinkling lights, romantic strolls through the narrow aisles and warm mulled wine. There are many things Europe does better than America, and Christmas markets is one of them. We have no such traditions in America, although most large cities will have some type of "holiday" market. A few days ago, we took a stroll through the market in Washington, DC. Incredibly boring, yet it has been ranked as one of the top 10 holiday markets in the country by many publications. Let's look inside...

1. The Holiday Market sits near Chinatown in DC, in the middle of a congested area of the city. Very rare that such a market would be designated as a "Christmas" event. They're almost always referred to as "Holiday" markets, so as to not offend non-Christians. Yes, it's the politically correct naming but such actions anger many Christians. Christmas holidays in America are still primarily a secular event celebrated by everyone, including non-believers like myself.


2. The main good sold at the market is hats! I love them, but for others it's probably boring to see so many versions of the same product in one place.


3. Winter gloves, not currently needed as a sudden heat wave hit the area. The past two days +20 Celsius.


4. A lot of scarves and head wear for females. Everything handmade by the sellers, usually very vibrant and animated people.


5. What's the ethnicity of this guy? Not sure, maybe American Indian? Very kind and excited to have his photo taken. A huge stand full of children's clothes, funny hats and decorative sweaters. He operates a shop in my hometown of Manassas, Virginia. Maybe one day I'll visit him and learn his life story.


6. Very few of the vendors actually sell Christmas goods. However, this was my favorite stand which also is shown in the cover photo. The seller is Peruvian, crafting wooden ornaments and religious figurines. The most colorful stand in the market!



8. Some artists display original works. This guy is from Mongolia, with Asian infused paintings. Quite expensive.


9. Yes, in America we love food! Even making candles in the form of tasty treats. They smell of strawberries and blueberries. Many variations including ice-cream sundaes, large cinnamon rolls...I love sweets and candles, but this combination is aesthetically ugly. I'd never place such a candle in my apartment.


10. Most of the products in the market are for females. This vendor was selling "vegan" soap. How can soap be vegan? I didn't really understand the process, but the maker told me it takes over one month to make each slab of soap.


11. Soap maker. He creates the products with his wife and mom, typical family-owned American business.


12. I purchased this fragrant bar of soap - lavender chamomile for $10 USD. Looks almost like a slice of cake, but excellent for skin. Creates a very soft texture and chamomile has a calming effect, which I always need! After a bath with this soap, I smell like a beautiful flower!


13. These musty old books are treasures! I like finding them in old bookstores, the book binds old and weathered. Very unique collection here, also selling old postcards from various American cities. Some of them were from the 1950's, handwritten messages mailed to a lucky recipient. Now in the hands of a modern day collector. Very cool but I forgot to purchase one.


14. Strange animal for children. I think it's a llama or alpaca? And how to cuddle with this stuffed animal? :) Must be a stand alone decoration for a room.


15. More hats and scarves.


16. This woman was so cheerful and a real artist with her needle, crocheting hats and scarves. Too bad I blurred her face, she's lovely.


17. Nice hand-carved, wooden board game sets including backgammon, chess, checkers...


18. Thick, woolen children's sweaters. Too warm for Washington, DC area but they're cute with every animal imaginable sewn into the designs.


19. Unusual for America, but there's not much food at this Holiday Market. Only one ice-cream stand and the rest Mexican variety foods such as empanadas and these tasty fried doughnut treats. Cooked in oil at 450 degrees, they take only 15 seconds to go through the deep fryer. Delicious! You eat them hot and can sprinkle on different toppings like powdered sugar, chocolate, caramel or sprinkles.


20. Mexican doughnut makers. Cool, funny guys!


21. Old woman selling children's books and toys.


22. Limited beverage options. Here, a vendor selling ordinary coffee and tea.


23. You can walk through this entire market in less than one hour. Washington, DC doesn't decorate elaborately at Christmas. Why? It's a commuter city. People come here mostly to work and then return home to the suburbs of Virginia or Maryland, like me. The most festive decorations are in front of the White House where the National Christmas tree is placed. Maybe next year I'll go there to shoot and show you the beautiful display.


What do you think? Very boring compared to European markets. Nothing enticing, no fragrant smells, no ice rink to twirl around on or benches to cuddle with a loved one. Overall, America can take a lesson from Europe and design more creative and colorful markets.

My family's Christmas celebration began yesterday, where a big group of us gathered for an informal brunch and gift exchange at a cousin's house. Now we celebrate for the next week, at various locations.


Not sure if I'll have time to publish another report this week. For all of my immigrant readers in America, Merry Christmas if you celebrate!

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( 70 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
очень всё красивенько )
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
It's colorful, but I don't get a Christmas feeling at this market.
(no subject) - sirottka - Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:35 pm (UTC)
Мексиканцы радуют
Mexican doughnut makers have such chubby cheeks that i have doubt that their business profitable. Most of donuts does not reach consumers.
Lack of mulled wine is unclear. There is a ban? But in any case, moderation in alcohol good for health and budget, because 4euro for 200g mug is expensive.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Мексиканцы радуют
What's wrong with chubby cheeks? :) I prefer them over some sullen, sunken face w/caved- in cheek bones. There's no ban on mulled wine, but it's very expensive to get alcohol permits and you have to go through a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to sell alcohol at public events in America. I guess this is why they don't sell any type of delicious warm wine or brandy at this market.
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - qi_tronic - Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - qi_tronic - Dec. 23rd, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 23rd, 2013 07:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - happy_ok - Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - happy_ok - Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - qi_tronic - Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Мексиканцы радуют - andrey_kaminsky - Dec. 24th, 2013 03:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
Merry Christmas!
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:40 pm (UTC)
From my impressions of such markets and gift shops in Seattle, America does not like "fine" things.
It's a farmer's culture and everything should be simple and bulky.
That's a difference from Europe.

Have you seen the "Eat, pray, love" movie?
I downloaded it yesterday and watched with my wife.

This is the episode I like :))

www. youtube. com/watch?v=8UQ0FyTkAl8

Italians know everything about pleasure.
And they just have no skills to make ugly things :)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
I've seen this film. What's wrong with a strong work ethic? I prefer it over the lazy ass workers I frequently encounter at Russian establishments. It's true, we love our pajamas! :)) I put them on as soon as I get home from work. Most Americans are simple people, we don't need fancy things and most find joy in very basic things. This week Alexander will publish a wonderful report about Santa visiting my neighborhood in Manassas. There you will see simple American folk, even some rednecks, all with smiles on their faces merely because of candy and a bearded man riding on top of a fire truck. We work hard, but also enjoy life. It's a stereotype that we're obsessed with our professions.
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 23rd, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2013 05:43 pm (UTC)
Where mulled wine?:)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
No alcohol at all! Pity because I love that spiced wine. :)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

and the winter gloves and woolen children's sweaters are just adorable))
Dec. 23rd, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks! These decorations are from your home? Maybe your kids made them? I especially like the snowman. :)
(no subject) - k_netalie - Dec. 24th, 2013 02:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 24th, 2013 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - k_netalie - Dec. 24th, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2013 07:35 pm (UTC)
Just came back home from a business-trip/pilgrimage to Israel today and saw you had posted quited a lot of posts recently :)

Beautiful pictures, thank you! They convey the spirit of Christmas - something we don't have over here. Decades of communism have done unspeakable damage to the human spirit here.

I gave up buying Christmas presents years ago because the assortment of goods is very poor in this part of the world.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, beautiful flower! :)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoy the holiday season. :) I've never traveled to Israel, I'm sure it's an interesting place.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
Merry Christmas to you and your family too. I am atheist, so I celebrate all Christmases: Anglican (Catholic), Orthodox just by eating too much :))) Then comes New Years and time for new resolution about losing weight :)))
Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
Haha! :)) To quit smoking and lose weight. I think these are the two most popular New Year's resolutions! For me, only the second is applicable. :) Happy holidays to you and your family as well.

Edited at 2013-12-23 08:43 pm (UTC)
Dec. 24th, 2013 02:04 am (UTC)
Great post! Great family! Merry Christmas!

Most participants of the vote ask their fiends to cast ballots for them privately - by sending them message with the invitation to vote. So did a-poli himself. He asked me last year about it and I casted the vote for him.
Dec. 24th, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
Well you first nominated me in the contest, so I know you voted. :)) Thanks for Christmas wishes. It's a nice time of year in America.
(no subject) - general_denikin - Dec. 24th, 2013 04:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 24th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - general_denikin - Dec. 24th, 2013 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 24th, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
Merry Christmas, Shannon. Nice pictures.

You have a very big family, dear. I really envy you :)
Dec. 24th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
Thanks! Big family, yes. It's great. Lots of love and good food, not only during the holidays but all year round. :) And you exchange gifts with your family at New Year's?
(no subject) - fareastener - Dec. 24th, 2013 05:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 24th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fareastener - Dec. 24th, 2013 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 24th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fareastener - Dec. 24th, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 24th, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
I recall now that's exactly what the soap maker said - they use no animal fat. Thanks! The American Indian guy was so pleasant and had wonderful hats. Happy Holidays!
Dec. 24th, 2013 08:04 am (UTC)
Old Soviet New Year postcards :)

www. pokazuha. ru/view/topic.cfm?key_or=1184532&fclick=1&lnt_type=1

Merry Christmas!
Dec. 24th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC)
Cute! You know I'm collecting small things from Soviet times so I'll try to find these online.
Dec. 24th, 2013 04:34 pm (UTC)
Merry Christmas, Shannon!

Yes, not so colourful and fascinating as markets in Europe :)
I have been in Berlin for some days before Christmas for 2 years and I adore Berlin's Christmas markets!
Very joyful and interesting :) Have you ever visited Berlin's Chritmas markets?
Dec. 24th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
No, unfortunately I've never been to Berlin. I've only seen the Christmas market in Vienna but it was magnificent. Thanks for the Christmas wishes. Are the holidays widely celebrated in Uzbekistan?
(no subject) - nochnaya_ximera - Dec. 25th, 2013 01:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 25th, 2013 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nochnaya_ximera - Dec. 27th, 2013 06:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 24th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, your family is so big! It`s great!
And we are waiting for the Orthodox Christmas and New Year here in Ukraine. New Year is very impostant holiday in ex-USSR republics . I think most important. We celebrate New Year, then Chtistmas (07/01) and after so-called Old New Year (13/01). So about two weeks people eat and drink too much)))Even they get tired of eating and drinking))Merry Christmas!

Edited at 2013-12-24 08:28 pm (UTC)
Dec. 25th, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
Best part of the holidays is to eat and drink too much! :) Enjoy them in Russia!
Dec. 25th, 2013 12:14 am (UTC)
Merry Christmas my dear Shannon!
We are celebrating :)
Dec. 25th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
In California, there's never a white Christmas! One time I celebrated in Florida and it was very strange for me to be in warm temperatures during the holidays. But you know I like the cold. :) Happy Holidays to you and your family!
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