Taking a holiday stroll…

love-opera-victoria-bakerIn Europe, they have holiday markets, snowy, cozy odes to the Christmas spirit, replete with every delicious culinary offering one can imagine. Here in Greenwich, we have the Holiday Stroll weekend on December 7 and 8.

There will be complimentary horse drawn carriage rides up and down the Avenue (my personal favorite activity), live reindeer, horse petting stations, holiday refreshments, live performances, a bouncing castle and an Island Belle paddle boat at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor. But perhaps best of all, there will be free parking in honor of the special occasion. For more information regarding times and a full list of activities please log onto www.greenwichreindeerfestival.com

The first holiday markets were held in Vienna more than seven centuries ago, and they still hold a unique appeal for locals and visitors to this day. In 1296, Emperor Albrecht granted Viennese traders and shopkeepers the privilege of holding a December Market for the city’s population.

In the sixteenth century the Thomasmarkt, took place around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Besides standard goods such as textiles and groceries, the Thomasmarkt sold gingerbreads and pastries which were all the rage at the time. The Austrians were the first to celebrate Christmas as we know it, but it was not until around 1814 that the custom of giving Christmas presents took hold. At this time Christmas markets had started selling special goods such as angels, ribbons, and candles alongside the standard market fare.

This year’s fifth annual Holiday Stroll on Greenwich Avenue will be full of Christmas shopping opportunities. But my new favorite place to do Christmas shopping is online. It’s the strangest thing, when I’m inside the store I don’t feel compelled to buy in the same way. Maybe it has something to do with clicking a button instead of having to whip out my wallet, or the absence of long lines.

I think it’s more about the incredible choice online. I’m not limited in any way. I can buy items from Europe and beyond and all from the comfort of my sofa. What’s more, I can send family and friends their Christmas presents, already wrapped, without having to lift a finger.

My favorite shopping websites? I’ve recently discovered Marks & Spencers has free shipping to the US, this British emporium has everything from Christmas Hampers to perfume and your friends will love the quaint packaging.

For me, there’s an element of fun I never got in the real store. It’s the excitement of getting packages in the mail, sometimes I even ask for them to be gift wrapped before being sent, it’s like having Christmas morning on a regular basis. Perhaps I’ll make that my new Christmas tradition and add one more person to my gift list…myself!


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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