This is our second Christmas here in Istanbul. As much we dearly miss our family and friends in England, we are looking forward to celebrating the coming our Prince of Peace here in Turkey. Christmas in a country which doesn't recognise it took some getting used to. Here are some of the things which could make us feel less than Christmassy...I'll call them 'cons'.
- Its 18 degrees and sunny! We have snuggly sweaters and Christmas jumpers at the ready for cold weather and its boiling! We are still in light jackets and running around the parks with the kids, it doesn't feel like winter at all (yet!).
- Our family and friends aren't here to celebrate with us.
That's it. Apart from those things there are these factors making me land 'pro' our second Istanbul Christmas.
-Istanbul celebrates New years Eve big style - with Christmas trees, lights and Santa Clauses. Lots of lovely decorations mean we feel as Christmassy as we did at home.
- Where we're cultural learners 24/7 living here in Turkey we finally get to share a tiny bit of our culture with our Turkish friends, sharing the Christmas story, traditions and different Christmassy food. We can't wait to see what they think of mince pies!
- If last year was anything to go by, it will snow, and snow epically!
- We have Netflix and Youtube. Without the internet it was so much harder to transport to cosy memories of Christmasses gone by. We have had our favourite Christmas carols and movies on already.
- I was able to find Christmas Pyjamas for the kids even if they did say Happy New year on, making them more wearable all year round for 2018 and therefore more economical!
-We can still go to church and there are some carol services too.
-You can order a stuffed Turkey to be delivered to you for Christmas dinner! Thats what I am talking about! With 10 around the table I'll definately be doing this.
- Because there is no mainstream Christmas celebration here, there is no Christmas rush, postal deadlines, hiked up prices for travel, there isn't a Christmas party for every night of the week the fortnight before Christmas, thus no arriving at Christmas absolutely exhausted!
-We are away from the pressure and commercialism that I felt in England often threatened to snuff out the really meaning of Christmas, and which often made me want to buy more than we needed. Celebrating Christmas here means escaping the adverts, deals, and media telling us to 'buy buy buy'.It means we have a simpler Christmas, enjoy what gifts we do have, and hopefully help us all develop more gratitude.
- Because we are without so many of the normal English Christmas traditions, we are trying to start some of our own that we can carry on each year to make Christmas special. It means we work that little bit harder to make it a memorable time. So far we have a lovely new set of books to read throughout Advent by Nigel Desmond, his books tell the Christmas story of Jesus' birth from the perspective of the animals as eye witnesses on that holy night. If you want a new angle on the Christmas story to treasure forever I fully recommend these beautifully illustrated books which you can buy here.
We also have a lovely 'build the Nativity Story' advent calendar, an annual trip to chose a new tree ornament (this years choice was mushroom?!). I wasn't brought up believing in Santa and don't feel like I missed out particularly but this year now the big one is old enough to understand we will be leaving out a carrot, mince pie and some sort of grown up drink for Santa on Christmas eve ;)
I'd be interested in hearing some of your family traditions, please leave them in the comments :)
Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year and I do miss celebrating it in England, and more importantly with my loved ones (you know who you are!). I know we will have an English Christmas in the years to come, but until then I hope this helps paint a picture of our Christmas here in Istanbul. The King of love was born that happy morning! Merry Christmas to you all.
Recently Turkey commemorated a year since the coup attempt from 15 July 2016. Posters with images of the military stand off scene on the Istanbul First Bridge were displayed around the city as millions marched to the bridge to remember those who lost their lives that evening. I even know someone personally whose family member was killed that fateful night 1 year ago.
At that time (15 July 2016) I was still in England, clutching my newborn son and almost every fibre of my body did not want to move to Turkey. One year on and I am so glad that He made me brave. So glad that we moved to Istanbul.
10 months on living here and it has not all been easy. One year on from the event that threatened the peace of this nation, since the New Year circumstances have been much more peaceful and we are so thankful. One year on after settling our family into an entire new existence we have waded through homesickness and culture shock. However things that are so different about living in Istanbul from England have become normal for us. Here’s some of our ‘New Normals’- celebrate with us!