Deck the Halls with Travel Souvenirs

img_1694There are two types of Christmas decorators.  The first has a theme, a colour scheme, their baubles match their tinsel, the second doesn’t.  I fall in to the latter category, if it’s plastic, metallic and looks like it’s from the 80s, it will be hanging from the ceiling; there is no room for taste in my Christmas grotto.

When we first moved in to our own home, we did not have any decorations to bring with us.  Christmas ornaments can be quite expensive and being young, with limited funds, we bought a string of lights and some cheap plastic baubles from a discount store and decided that each year we would buy one or two ‘nice’ decorations to gradually upgrade our collection.  I must confess that I haven’t always restricted myself to one or two but there has always been a reason for what I’ve chosen, beyond simply aesthetics, though that does play a part.  Now our tree is an eclectic mix of memories.

A few years ago, a sub-tradition emerged.  Whenever we travel we look for a decoration to take home.  We try to choose something that has a connection to the place, either because of what it is or the artistic or cultural style.  It’s a great way to collect souvenirs that don’t cost too much or take up too much room and, because they are small, and anything goes at Christmas, you can be more bold in your choices than if an item was on display all year round.  Here are the stories behind a few of my favourites.

15672813_10101973563106121_8259954637039586704_nThis sequined beauty is a cloth version of a New Zealand Hei -Tiki, the neck pendants of Maori culture.  This little monster was bought during my first and only Christmas in the southern hemisphere in 2007; a rather surreal experience surrounded by images of snow and fir trees in blazing sunshine.

15665726_10101973563166001_5844022783700699355_nParty skeleton is from Mexico and was bought during a trip to the Yucatán in 2010.  Not necessarily what you would expect to see on a Christmas tree, I couldn’t resist his folk art charms.  Look out for a Flashback Friday from Mexico in the New Year.

15697507_10101973562976381_8537008283213890027_nEvery year I worry that this wafer thin baked clay house from Tallinn, Estonia, will not have made it.  This decoration was bought during our short visit (if you’d like to read more about it click here) in the gift shop of a museum and is a good representation of the buildings of the Old Town.

15590357_10101973563016301_7276717663220006366_nMy boating bears are, unsurprisingly, Canadian.  In 2015 we spent a few days camping in Algonquin Provincial Park, walking in the woods and also exploring by water on the aptly named Canoe Lake.  We were lucky enough to spot a mother bear and three cubs on our last morning and, shortly after, as we stopped for a sandwich at a shop just outside the park, came across this most appropriate decoration.  For a taste of our wilderness experience, click here.

15697653_10101973563061211_6673666969075893638_nMjölnir, or Thor’s hammer, is the most recent addition to the collection, bought this year during our trip to Iceland (for the first of my posts on Iceland, click here).  2016 has been a Norse year for us as we also visited Denmark, including a day trip to the unmissable Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.  This little homage to our fellow North Sea brethren, has pride of place on one of the highest branches.

As this year comes to an end, whether you will be celebrating Christmas or not, I wish you all health and happiness and many travel adventures to come in 2017.  I can’t wait to set off in search of the next decoration for my tree.

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