Christmas in Istanbul..

It may only be two more sleeps until Christmas, but it’s certainly going to be a strange one. The tree is up and the Turkey is defrosting in the fridge, but thanks to 2020 and London being in Tier 4, it’s going to be a ‘merry little Christmas’ to quote Boris. With no family allowed in each other’s houses, all the plans went out of the window last Saturday so it’s just the two of us this year- me and Berkay, the real life Grinchy Scrooge!

I, however, love Christmas, so back in January when the world was normal, I was so excited to see Christmas decorations still up around Istanbul when we visited. Saint Antoine Church had it’s nativity scene outside along with a huge tree decorated with white and red poinsettias, so beautiful. You can read a blog post I wrote about the church with more photos here – https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2020/02/16/sent-antuan-kilisesi-st-antoine-church/

Even though most Turkish people don’t celebrate Christmas, (though Father Christmas does originate from there), some do associate him with New Year, so I think that’s why there were still a few Santa’s to be seen mid-January. One restaurant we went to still had a Christmas tree, Santa, reindeer and snow globes on display, looking wonderfully festive! Istiklal Street had bauble lights with a new year message lit up, and a hotel had teddy bears and light up Christmas presents above it’s entrance!

It’s so weird looking at these photos now, remembering being out and about sightseeing without masks on, thousands of people strolling down Istiklal street in the evening with no social distancing required, a time where nobody had ever heard the worlds ‘furlough’ and ‘covid19’, and where strangers walking past you in the street weren’t assumed to be an immediate threat to your health! It seems like a lifetime ago. Just two months after those photos were taken, the whole world got turned upside down! Travel bans, working from home, the 2 meter rule, face coverings… and in the past week we seem to have gone back to square one again! I often just think back to my lonely little desk in Canary Wharf, with everything just as I left it on March 16th, my desk calendar stuck on the same page for over nine months now, like something you see on a documentary where people abandon their houses in a rush, toys left behind, food still in the cupboard and things left untouched for decades. So weird.

Let’s hope 2021 brings better things – Merry Christmas and a happy healthy new year to everyone!

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