I’m not going to argue that the German Market isn’t shit. Its shiteness is self-evident and widely talked about. It’s easy to slag it off, so first I will. There are crowds of people with no idea how to act or move in crowds. There’s the eye-damage from stray umbrella spokes. And there’s overpriced tat and foul tasting sweets sold from the same five or six stalls repeated over and over again. Over and over again like a twisted parody of the shops in your pisshole suburb’s high street. The high street that you’ve just come from on a bus that manages to be both clammy with condensation and uncomfortably full of coat. To drink, there’s headache beer and migraine wine liberally over-served to once-a-year drinkers. The weather is almost consistently a mixture of sleet and hail, so perfectly calibrated for its bleakness it’s enough to make you believe in an intelligent creator; and that he hates us.
For the longest time, people loved the German Market. To all Brummies it’s ‘The German Market’ no matter how hard the PR hacks push its real name, or how large they print the words on the banner. People would meet after work, parents would bring their kids, and hating it became akin to labeling yourself Scrooge McBastard and filming yourself buggering an elf on a shelf. But hate it I did. It’s unfair to label me a contrarian because that would imply some reactionary element, I’m not a contrarian, I’m just a weirdo.
But the German Market lost its shine. The prices, that were always a little high, carried on inflating while peoples’ wages were stretched a little further. Its popularity grew but the infrastructure to support it lagged. The local shops came to resent the two full months of having a carnival full of office drunks on their doorstep, and there’s only so many wooden croaking frogs you can buy your other half for Christmas before they start pissing in your morning coffee.
Most of our notions of modern Christmas come from the Victorian author Charles Dickens, who being the rock star of his time toured the country reading from ‘A Christmas Carol’. Turning a then barely-noticed mark on the calendar into the jolly family oriented affair we associate today.
He really saw the value of a time of year where we take time to connect with family and give out nothing but love. The story of Scrooge is ultimately one of redemption, not one of spiritual redemption but one of redemption through the forgiveness of others and connection with his family.
The place where Chucky D chose to first read from this book? Birmingham Town Hall, So really Birmingham is Christmas’s Bethlehem: and so we here celebrate the Brummiest Christmas thing going: our relationship with the German Market.
People complaining about people complaining that Christmas gets earlier every year gets earlier every year doesn’t it? And as well they might, it seems the only thing stopping the lights going up as soon as the kids go back to school is Halloween.
One of the biggest proponents of this christmas creep in Birmingham is the Frankfurt Market, known locally as the ‘German Market’ the ‘Christmas market’ or just ‘the market’ by most of Birmingham who seem to unwilling to split hairs at that point but will delight in telling you that most of the people that work there are “Polish anyway”. The Market has been a fixture of Birmingham since 2001 and time was you couldn’t say a word against it without being labelled as a grinch the equivalent of a 60ft mecha-Scrooge with orphan-killing eye lasers. Of course I publicly coated it off every chance I could get.