Aside from the small community events there are the Large Corporate and also Civic events. In the nature of providing a snapshot of these, for those with the time to enjoy, I have visited 3
The first was a scene strongly influenced by the European Christmas market. Central was the ice rink with a mood setting cold easterly wind to set the scene. It also served to justify (for purely health reasons) the testing and consumption of hot mulled wine, hot gin with fruit, cider and berries…… the list goes on and on. There were also various bars with music and displays of lights.
The chalets nearby had the correct level of seasonal offerings.
Many were tasteful although others would join the annual declaration of – “do you remember when we bought this”- with its associated smiles and painful giggles for a spur of the moment decision when the 3rd glass of mulled wine was a key factor.
The second Christmas market was a more sedate social event. The location helped as there were narrow streets and special squares filled with chalets. A typical item was beauty products with natural ingredients and no chemicals. One has to admire the stamina of the traders as the market was open from 10am to 7pm for a couple of weeks. Those selling gin, beer or cider definitely had the relevant products for such occasions. As we were there all day we had a hot chocolate drink with added measure of Baileys and a portion of cream on top. We did feel it was justified as we we were walking around all day- and that must surely use up the extra calories?! Furthermore the location had a long history of clean and health living so a hot chocolate drink cannot be all that bad?. We wandered around and were struck to see a very old building with a wall inscription of it having been in the past a circulating reading room and subscription library. As this is opposite a branch of Waterstones it seemed as if those people centuries before had already come to the same ideas as us.
Which brings us to the Corporate Michaelmas. This was a large multinational company who annually hold a Christmas market sale for their staff. They had the company choir singing which showed the true spirit and the carols were traditional but Western. I mention that because being a multicultural multinational there was a slight mis-match to have those from various countries including the Arab nations and the Indian subcontinent being entertained by these hymns. I wonder what would it be like if roles were reversed?.
There were traders who had children’s books, jewellery, honey to name but a few stalls. For many at the Company with a busy work and home life if did fulfil a need to get those presents. And for those with a work secret Santa it was a marvellous opportunity- one only had to observe which stalls that colleague looked at to have a good gift idea.
The commitment of some of the traders was also exceptional. One, an organic chocolate maker, not only had to make their chocolates but then pack up a van and drive 2 hours to the event. On arrival they had to lay out a display of at least 1000 little chocolate blocks of different types, flavours and types. Another brought a whole van load of Panettone Christmas sponge cakes as typically found in Italy.
In the end it showed that Christmas was about mixing and mingling with colleagues and friends and that if there is right atmosphere then we can all benefit from cross cultural exchanges