Since early November, there have been poorly decorated plastic trees prominently placed in many shops. This week, I had to suffer for almost 15 minutes in a queue, waiting to pay for a new pair of winter boots, while the awful Christmassy pop played in that store slowly melted my brain. It wasn't even December yet and I wished with all my heart that this Christmas nonsense would have been over and done with yesterday.
Then a friend reminded me that the traditional advent concert was happening this Friday. I'd completely forgotten that it would be so soon and rushed out just in time to get a couple of the last tickets. And then on Friday evening, something strange happened.
The concert is held at the Turku Cathedral and is performed by Brahe Djäknar and Florakören, both internationally awarded choirs consisting of Åbo Akademi University students, and the Symphony Orchestra of Åbo Akademi. Going to this yearly concert became a tradition while I was a student at the same university and I'm happy to continue it now that I've graduated.
As soon as the choirs entered the darkened cathedral, holding lit candles and singing "Veni redemptor gentium" (a very old hymn reworked by J. S. Bach), I got chills up my spine. This happens every time - somehow my body reacts physically to hearing something beautiful. Once the concert was over, I had been transformed from a grumpy curmudgeon concerning all holiday things to someone who thinks it isn't all that bad after all.
The rest of the evening included drinks with friends and unexpectedly ending up at what could be called a student street party with mulled wine. By the end of the night, not even the sight of a pink plastic Christmas tree in a shop window could deter my small but growing enthusiasm for Christmas.
I'm not sure how the advent concert manages to do this, but it always works. I guess it shows the lovely side of Christmas and reminds me of how it will be once Christmas Eve comes around and we're enjoying the holiday with family, instead of the icky commercial version we're stuffed with every day for 1 1/2 months.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cool handmade advent calendar idea to realise, in order to nurture my delicate Christmas joy.