Text by Peter Marten/Virtual Finland
Photos by Tim Bird
On Virtual Finland's photo tour, Helsinki merchants’ best Christmas displays open the door between real life and fantasy.
At Christmas time, perhaps more than during any other holiday, nostalgic dreams and childhood fantasies mix with adult seasonal stress and practical preparations. Whether we approve or not, Christmas includes commercialism, but that doesn’t have to be all negative.
During the bustle of gift shopping, children pull their parents off course to stop in front of merchants' elaborate Christmas display windows. These dioramas and decorations contribute to the spirit of the season while seeking to attract money-spending customers. At best, a Christmas window offers an illuminated fantasy world that provides a welcome contrast to the dark winter outside.
Occasionally you hear someone complain that Christmas displays "just aren't what they used to be". We took a walk through downtown Helsinki to see if this was true. And while a couple big ones – most notably the department store Stockmann – clearly invest more in their Christmas displays than others, we found that the others are not overshadowed.
Click here for a slideshow tour of the best of Helsinki Christmas display windows, as captured by photojournalist Tim Bird.
Published December 2008