As the Qasid term finished and people began to drift home for Christmas, it became very obvious to me that I was going to have to step up the celebrations to avoid getting hit too hard by the unavoidable I’m-not-at-home-for-Christmas blues. While some of the other stragglers decided to head over to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, my desire for a cosy, comfortable Christmas Day (and my depleted bank account…) meant that me and my friend/flatmate Jasmine decided to get decorating and search for events in Amman to fill us with Christmas cheer.
We started at Carrefour in City Mall (which was beautifully decked out in its seasonal attire) and thankfully found quite a large selection of Christmassy goods, including a fake tree, tree ornaments, and enough craft materials for an afternoon spent making candy-cane inspired paper chains and snowflakes. Oh! – and of course the all important tinsel garlands.
Various other shopping malls of course jumped on the Christmas bandwagon (such as Taj Mall and the Abdali Boulevard) and organised Christmas festivals and markets, but these fell slightly short and felt like little more than a marketing ploy. The best results came from smaller, charitably organised markets like the ‘Heart of Jordan Christmas Bazaar’ and the ‘Khordda Christmas Souq’, especially the latter. Khordda is a community centre near Paris Circle which celebrates art, especially sustainable and recycled pieces, and hands on work in the local community. The market took place in a beautiful garden where trees were decorated with swaths of knitted and dyed fabrics from their master classes and sculptures made from recycled wire. There was a variety of different goods, although the best part for me was the vast array of handmade jewellery. My Christmas present to myself ended up being a bracelet from the charity ‘Forkit’ that crafts forks and spoons into bracelets to raise money to feed poor families. Sitting the a dry stone wall in the garden, eating strawberry cheesecake and watching customers buying beautiful charitable wears, while their children ran around and played games on the grassy banks, it became easy to relax into the Christmas spirit (although not quite in the same way as I would in an English snow flurry!).
After a few days sitting in cafes on Rainbow Street, drinking Limonana and trying unsuccessfully to concentrate on writing our Arabic year abroad essays, Christmas Day finally arrived. Although it was just the two of us we went all out on food, including two chickens (and a third tucked away in the fridge in case we ran out when it was time for Boxing Day Sandwiches) and three different types of desserts. After dinner we thanked the Christmas elves that the notoriously unpredictable Jordanian internet was behaving and settled on the sofa for an evening of classics like Love Actually, The Grinch and the Snowman. I’ll admit that Skyping with my family back in London did make me feel nostalgic for my usual Christmas traditions, like me and my sisters dragging our mattresses into the same room on Christmas Eve (which is getting less and less comfortable and more like a complicated game of Tetris as we get older and bigger) and waking up with my stocking at the end of my bed. Nonetheless, Christmas abroad didn’t turn out to be depressing, as some people had warned me it would be. It was actually a really fun day- different, but still perfect in its own way.
In a week I start at my second Arabic language school, The Ali Baba International Centre, where I am enrolled for a month long course and my final month in Jordan. Although I’m not completely looking forward to getting back into the routine of going back to school, I’m going to attempt to make the most of the rest of my time here, before I head off to España in February!