Not The Market I Had In Mind

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

Here’s a question – is there a set of minimum requirements for an event to be considered a “Christmas market”? I ask because over the weekend I went to buy groceries and noticed that there was a market taking place. I think the organisers may have misunderstood the term “market”.

I counted about seven tables. While I understand that times are tough and don’t begrudge people trying to make a bit of money (legally), I’d feel pretty let down if I had read about a Christmas market such as this one in Regensburg, Germany, and then attended one where a couple of people were selling fake perfume and trinkets made from old cold-drink tins.

You’d be mortified if you were a serious gambler and arrived at your casino, dressed as Kenny Rogers, and discovered that their idea of “serious card player action” was someone waiting to play a game of “Go fish”. But it seems as though people use this time of year to label every gathering as a Christmas market.

Growing up, I remember going on holiday to East London and attending a night market. I recall being enchanted by the lights, the carols, but most of all, the toys. I even used my holiday money to buy a wooden service station, complete with place to park my Hot Wheels cars and miniature petrol pumps. As a child, I would often play with this wooden petrol station and took delight in pretending to fill up my cars. Had I known that some 25 years later I would spend a sizeable chunk of money on petrol (that could be spent on something better, like beer) I would have used my pocket money to buy something else.

It’s also the time of year where just about any piece of rubbish is labeled as “the ideal gift”. According to Prezzybox.com, the perfect gift for a teenage girl is a candy floss maker while teenage boys want a personalised chocolate medal. Moms, apparently, would love nothing more than to receive a kit that allows you to make a chocolate pizza. And dads have chocolate first-aid kits on their letters to Santa. Looking at the site I know what many people will be getting for Christmas – diabetes.

I’m generally not much of a shopper so am not too bothered by markets that consist only of a hot-dog stand and guy selling used CDs, or stores that market toilet paper as the perfect gift. I am bothered by the overplaying of Christmas-themed music. Call me the Grinch if you must, but I wish the Little Drummer Boy would use his drumsticks to beat radio station programming managers who playlist Boney M. If Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ever gets rabies, I hope he takes his aggression out on mall managers who think everyone appreciates the 15th repeat of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”.

I was once asked if I believed in Christmas miracles. I don’t, but if someone could arrange for honest marketing and less Boney M I would be a convert.

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