So the Christmas markets are here. In fact “CM,CM,CM,CM,CM” or more normally pronounced as See Them!. They are an important part of the seasonal shopping calendar. They also predated the recent ideas of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and are far more critical to having a thriving local community. Before we think of these as a new idea it is worth remembering that the first Frost fair occurred on the frozen Thames on 1608. There was a major one in 1683/4 and the last occurred in 1814. (Wikipedia)
Now that I had more time, I was lucky enough to visit 3 different Christmas markets and saw how important they are for communities
The first was an all day event on Sunday and had an emphasis on Fairground rides, local folk dancing groups. The event also had many charitable group stands often with a tombola aspect with items won if you drew a 5 or 0 ticket. Early on one person won a bottle of whisky which really set sales going. Another was lucky enough to win a bottle of wine. This rapidly lead to a “Christmas market, conversation mentioning charity matters, commerce materialism community morality” which was about the luck involved in Tombolas or other types of betting. However to put it simply it was a case “chatting makes communication means community maintained”. Which is a summary of the underlying messages and purpose of all Christmas fairs
The same community also had a few characters one stood out by walking about on stilts and another on a large circus type ball. A good illustration of the difficulties for organisers.
The next Christmas Market had the emphasis on craft makers, creative materials and food. The choices between types of cheese, gin, and salami showed that we all like food/drink. When seen together with local seasonal pottery, scarves and candles it showed the inherent entrepreneurial spirit of the community. The Christmas community atmosphere was movingly demonstrated by the local school children who sang carols whilst their parents looked on with pride.
The final Christmas Market was on a much smaller scale however being at a local garden centre they had real Christmas trees for sale and live music. To hear the theme song from the Snowman story did bring back so many Happy Memories. Amongst the stall holders was one selling a picture frame created from wine and champagne corks- and did make one wonder where had all the corks come from.
Another had made fabric covered note books, and address books all with a striking yellow and grey design.
Another had made various porcelain items of remarkable beauty and design. Another stall holder had made soap so delicate coloured that if looked so like a Neapolitan chocolate bar that she had a “Don’t eat the soap” sign.
Once again people were keen to talk about their items and that is key to markets and the success our communities.
After all, the Christmas spirit is all about celebration with those around you. An order via the internet is very quick and impersonal therefore missing out that key aspect of community.