Each year, the streets of Birmingham become host to festive wooden stalls, selling an array of gifts, food and alcohol, all with a twist of German culture. With everything from figurines, gingerbread, candles, toys, sweets, hotdogs to beer, everyone will find something they need. With bright lights, festive decoration, music and handmade gifts that everyone would love to receive, there’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit.
The market grows in popularity each year, attracting bigger crowds with it’s infectious atmosphere and unique experience. With this growth in popularity comes a rise in prices. Each year the same goods are more expensive and a ten pound note will only reward you with a Hotdog and pint of beer. With the market so deeply ingrained into the cities culture it’s pushing people to delve into their wallets more often than the previous year. Is this price increase justified or just a exploitation of people who visit it?
What is on offer at the market would be hard to find elsewhere. A lot of the goods are handmade and stall owners are there to make a living and a profit. Even if we could buy the exact same thing online, we are not just paying for the item but also to be there. we are buying the experience and putting money into a business that we love to visit. We aren’t forced to purchase anything but I’m aware that some people, especially parents, may feel pressure to buy things for their children.
Shoppers aside, the event may also have a drain on local businesses. The crowds are drawn to the festive stalls and away from other shops that may sell similar wares. Permanent shops in the area may see a drop in custom which could be deemed unfair.
Aside from money, there are some deeper issues present. This year I visited on the last day, the 21st,which meant that many places had sales on- evidence of a need to rid of stock- and I noticed a few things I failed to before. Walking past a stall I saw a girl standing with a sign that read “dead reindeer sold here” seeing this in front of a stand selling animal furs shook me from my festive daze and alerted me to the fact that things I didn’t agree with where happening right in front of me.
With alcohol flowing you are never too far away from a shouting stumbling drunken individual and I even had the joy of being approached by a intoxicated male with little motor ability who decide to leave his pint with us and lumber away. The market is a breeding ground for laddish behaviour which causes tension with young families.
All these factors considered, it’s impossible to distract from its qualities. I visit the market each year and my Christmas would not be complete without it. It’s a great way to get people together and join in festive cheer and bag a few special presents along the way. I feel we should welcome the cultural diversity and embrace the popularity of such a exciting occasion. Gemstones, candles, fresh winter air, alcohol, great food and great company? That’s my idea of a decent December night