We’re on the countdown but you wouldn’t know it. In Ibiza it can feel a kind of Christmas wilderness. A bit like Narnia. The cues are almost there but not quite. In Narnia you have the weather but none of the cheer. In Ibiza we always have the cheer but none of the cues. There are Christmas trees dotted around but they seem so out of context that they become surreal. Like seeing Christmas trees in Spring. In my nomadic past, in the carefree days before domestic bliss, I spent a Christmas in Sydney. It was totally odd, there is too much daylight for decorations to get any attention. The sun’s awesome glow is clearly going to win out over some shiny PVC. Let’s face it, Santa wears a huge fleecy onesie- he’d melt in all that synthetic fabric and would clearly wind up neglecting his duties.
In my old life, sometime early in November the cranberry replaced the mayonnaise in the M&S Turkey sandwich and the cup for my extra strong, extra hot, extra extra dry, soya Starbucks cappuccino went red and festive. All advert jingles turned tinkly. You didn’t even need decorations, it was just in the air. In Ibiza packaging doesn’t change, nor do the menus and while some towns arrange to heroically hang some wintry looking lighting, I have yet to see them lit.
Not a problem for me, liberating in fact, I tell myself… But the little innocent faces of the offspring look at you like you have violated their human rights when you diatribe on how commercial Christmas has become. So at the weekend we went seeking some of the magic. The best Christmas trees on the island come from Sluiz, an eclectic, edgy emporium, worthy of a piece of real estate in the East Village of New York or the streets of Shoreditch. When I first moved here, someone told me about Sluiz, then in its original location on the road from San Jose to Ibiza. Over the years there is nothing I haven’t bought from there – from artwork to towels, clothes to garden furniture, kids’ shoes to mugs and not forgetting my favourite Evian water in limited edition bottles (they used to have a serious collection of global waters in glass bottles that I willingly paid stupid money for) and now it would seem the most stylish Christmas lights ever. My daughter the magpie saw them out of the corner of her eye and I of course bought them in triplicate with a thought to some kind of year-round installation.
Entering Sluiz on Saturday night gave us our fix. It was sparkly and glittery and there was seasonal music playing. It was freezing (the vast blow heaters couldn’t quite reach into all the corners of the cavernous warehouse-like space) and there was a whole section dedicated to seasonal, traditional foods! We didn’t care one little bit that they were all Dutch.
In Ibiza’s diverse community, people find their own path to the authentic spirit of Christmas. In the few weeks before, there are a plethora of Christmas markets, local artisans intersecting with Christmas magic seekers, usually with a charity element. Stages appear in town centres and people of all ages come together for low-key performances, fun runs and a bit of feel-good camaraderie. The month of December kicks off with two fiesta days, marking Spain’s recent transition to democracy. Then, not only do we get to borrow some of Dutch pre-Christmas but my Swedish friend lends us her Christmas on the 24th, the kids get to be English on the 25th and 26th and just when you thought it was all over we apparently need to gift them all over again on the 5th January for la Fiesta de Los Reyes. True kid-izens of the world.
The original store on the road from San Jose to Ibiza sells mainly clothes and some artefacts
The main emporium is just outside the town of Santa Gertrudis. Go to shop, have a drink, a meal and sometimes catch musical events. It is truly a destination – classy and quirky at the same time!