For about five minutes each year I get excited about the impending festivities of Birmingham’s famed Frankfurt Christmas market. The little wooden huts. The scent of mulled wine and sizzling sausages. Cute carved woodwork and ornaments. The singing moose. And then I remember. What the Frankfurt Christmas Market actually means is pushing, shoving and being elbowed in every crevice. A three-deep queue to purchase overpriced, overwatered and overgassy beer. The same old cute carved woodwork and ornaments as last year. The singing moose.
“Meet me under the moose” becomes the closing statement of every text trying to organise a meeting place. By 8pm, every market-goer is trying to locate their fellow market-goer under that blasted moose. You finally spot a friend, clutching a large tankard of that £4.50 beer, trying to save a precious table space (which usually ends up being next to a bin). You are jostled and elbowed and poked on your way to the bar, and jostled and elbowed and poked on the way back from the bar. You end up wearing more of your £4.50 beer than drinking it. And woe betide if you try to carry more than one. Someone loses their glass token, and decides that rather than lose their £3 deposit they may as well keep the glass. They will then spend the entire night trying to shove said glass into someone else’s pocket or handbag when they get tired of holding it. A group of men will mistake the German Christmas Market for an actual German Christmas Market and start singing “oom pah pah” and waving their glasses around in the air. Another group of men will mistake the side of one of the stalls for a Portaloo, and the smell of urine will meld with the scent of cinnamon, Nutella crepes and Baileys Hot Chocolates.
What the market means to me is the good nights I’ve had there with friends, popping in for a quick drink after work on a Friday that lasts until closing time. But more often than not, the night is spent huddled together, trying to keep warm, dry and pretend we’re having fun, before someone breaks and suggests we head off to the Wellington before we all freeze to death (it’s ALWAYS the Wellington…). And every year, we say, “Nope, we won’t bother this year”. And yet every year the lure of the overpriced beer and dodgy bratwurst draws us in…
All photos from birminghammail.co.uk and bbc.co.uk