Unconventional Christmas Cheer in D.C.

01 Dec
December 1, 2011

With Thanksgiving finally wrapped up, many of us are shifting our attention to one of the biggest holiday events left this year – Christmas.

The standard style of preparing, going to the mall to shop and see Santa, is what just about everyone in this city will do in the weeks leading up to December 25th. But we live in a multicultural city, so there’s no reason not to break the typical holiday routine and do something completely different. And this upcoming weekend provides some of the best opportunities to shake up the holiday malaise.

On Saturday, the Swedish Women’s Educational Association hosts their annual Swedish Christmas Bazaar at the House of Sweden on the Georgetown waterfront. If you’ve never visited the House of Sweden, then it’s worth hitting the bazaar just to see the amazing building that houses the Swedish and Icelandic Embassies. The all-glass, linear building juts out over the Potomac, giving visitors panoramic views of the river and the monuments downstream.

This Saturday, their doors open for all visitors. The Swedish Christmas Bazaar is free to attend, and activities abound all day. Children from the Swedish School will sing Christmas Carols in their native tongue. There’s an arts and crafts room for kids to make authentic Swedish works, and all the while, authentic Swedish textiles, crafts and artwork will be for sale.

The bazaar will also be selling baked goods and traditional delicacies. Be sure not to miss out on the traditional Swedish mulled wine, or glogg. The event ends at five with St. Lucia’s procession, an historic Swedish celebration, where people dressed in white perform a candlelight procession to honor the patron saint of light and sweets.

If European bazaars like this pique your interest, there’s another opportunity to attend one that’s just up the road from the House of Sweden, and it’s also on Saturday.

At the German School in Potomac, Maryland, the annual German Christmas Bazaar is this Saturday, running from noon to five. The event kicks off with a musical welcome, much like the Swedish festival. The German Christmas Bazaar is also free to attend, with a list of vendors just as diverse. Among the items available for purchase at the German Christmas Bazaar are Turkish textiles, dried wreaths and smoked German almonds. There will also be a German butcher and Swiss baker to satiate any authentic food cravings you may have. Additionally, throughout the day activities for children are held.

Hopefully you’ll be able to check some people off your gift list Saturday at these authentic shops, but don’t forget about the other traditional activity – seeing Santa. Since you’ve done some unconventional shopping, stick with the theme of keeping things different this year. Up in Olney, Maryland, there’s an opportunity to do just that.

If the unseasonable warmth of the past few days has left you confused about what season it’s supposed to be, then the 11th Annual SCUBA Santa Food Drive will leave you totally discombobulated.

Every year, the Olney SCUBA Adventure Dive Club hosts a food drive for the Manna Food Club. By bringing canned or non-perishable food, or a $5.00 cash donation, you can create one of the craziest Christmas cards possible. That’s because Santa, in full dress, grabs SCUBA gear and sets up for the day at the bottom of the Olney Swim Center. Guests can then don goggles and dive in while an underwater photographer snaps a picture of you with Kris Kringle.

So this year, with all these opportunities, skip the mall, crowds and lines and do something uniquely unconventional.

- David

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