Monday, December 21, 2009

globetrotting adventures - finland i - christmas markets

since the husband and i do a fair bit of traveling, i thought it might be fun to write blogs on some of our globe trotting adventures. this series will be about our current trip to finland. i say "series" because i am hopeful that i will write a few entries during our stay, but this could just be a case of me being overly ambitious (again).

anyway, seeing as i am an etsy shop owner, it is almost needless to say that i really enjoy visiting crafts markets. and in another life, when the husband and were living in finland, i was able to visit different craft markets with some frequency, as they were/are pretty abundant.

two of my favorite markets in finland occur during christmas time, and they are the tuomaan markkinat (st. thomas' market) and wanhan joulu markkinat (old student house christmas market), both located in downtown helsinki with a couple of blocks of each other. i was really happy that we were able to arrange our finnish winter holiday to include time for these markets (and yes, we actually chose an earlier departure date just to ensure i wouldn't miss out on them).

at st. thomas' market, each vendor has their own cute little red "house", lined up together in two neat rows facing each other, down this mini park strip in the middle of downtown helsinki, known as the "esplanade". the middle part of the market spreads out in to a circle and then slims back down into the rows. the vendors sell all kind of things, ranging from ready to eat hot food, jams and honey, baked goods, salted and pickled herring, wet-felted goods, needle-felted goods, hand-made soaps, lotions, christmas ornaments/decor, clothes etc. i really enjoy tramping up and down the esplanade peering at everyone's goods, although it's difficult to be thorough when it's 10.4F (-12C) outside.

below: my one purchase at this market, a jar of sea-buckthorn berry jam. this berry is only found in parts of europe and asia. alone, the berry is supposed to be extremely tart, but as a juice or jam (meaning with lots of sugar) it is DELICIOUS.
the old student house christmas market is held in an building that is owned by the university of helsinki student body, and used to be the student union. the administration has since moved to a different building, but they still use this one for various events, such as this annual christmas market. i personally prefer this market over the st.thomas' one, partially because it's indoors, but also because the goods are a little more design oriented. there are a lot of metalsmiths, felters (finns do love their felting), knitters, sewers, and many other kinds of artisans. LOOK at all the different vendors!

i purchased a christmas ornament, a "christmas fairy". i already have one from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend from a couple years ago from this series. the artists does something new with the series every year.

this was an impulse purchase, but my most prized one yet- a wrist pin cushion, by their website is pretty empty at the moment, but they were super kind and added a bow on my pincushion's head at my request, and also named her for me. her name is gunhild the grey. i know this sounds ridiculous, but i LOVE this pincushion. she is SO CUTE.

i fear that in the next two weeks i will shop so much that i will single handedly be responsible for a spurt in the finnish economy. good for them, not so good for my wallet. i have a tendency to go a little shopping crazy while i'm in this country. must be something in the water...


  1. hahaha...that pincushion is pretty damn adorable. (=

  2. ahhh my kind of day! that's awesome :) Merry Christmas to you and your family too!! xo

  3. THe markets look gorgeou! I had no idea that Finland had their own Christmas markets. How cute is that wrist pin cushion! :D

  4. visiting from Ana's Friday Archive Dive
    the markets look absolutely much talent and creativity is inspiring
    I adore your little Christmas Fairy!
    fa la la

  5. the market does look amazing.. it's just "buzzing" in your photo there. i wish i had the opportunity to travel more, but when i do, i instantly seek out and gravitate towards the handmade markets and artisans.

    thanks for sharing these photos. i've never heard of sea-buckthorn berry. what a pretty colour.



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