Frankfurters, Gluhwein and Stollen

Sometimes I am reminded in the most unlikely of places of the importance of some of the projects which Lions undertake as proved to be the case when Eric and I along with some other Lions from our club visited the Birmingham “Frankfurt Christmas Market.”

As somebody who really doesn’t like Christmas very much attending the Frankfurt Christmas Market would seem an odd way for me to spend a Thursday evening, but there’s something about the atmosphere, smells and activities that I enjoy. Billed as the largest German Christmas Market outside of Germany and Austria, it was packed with wooden chalets selling everything from traditional handmade gifts, toys, candles, jewelry, glass-work, clothes  and of course, christmas decorations.

The market’s visitors were also able to sample the traditional tastes of German mulled wine, grilled sausages, German beer, and for those with a sweet craving there is gingerbread and marzipan sweets. To make the visit even sweeter a range of German pastries and breads  baked on site were available.

Such a vast choice of tasty food did of course cause problems for Eric when we visited, who as usual found it difficult to narrow his choice down to just one item and instead settled for a spiced sausage bap, a caramel doughnut and marshmallows and strawberries covered in chocolate which he shared with me to ease his conscience.

There were also a few less expected attractions, especially for the men in the group as we came across some scantily clad young ladies trying to drum up customs for the nearby lap dancing club. Eric did comment that he felt particularly old as the food held more attraction for him than the sight of the women dressed only in flimsy underwear. I’m not sure that all the men felt equally as old!

The origins of the Christmas Market in Frankfurt can be traced back to 1393. In Medieval times, Frankfurt  held the Christmas Market exclusively for the burghers with the city craftsmen reserving their finest wares for local people. Looking around the Birmingham Market it struck me that not much had changed. On the surface, the area was packed with people enjoying the stalls and the Christmas atmosphere, but stepping quietly to one side and watching the activity from a distance, a whole other world suddenly became apparent.

As we approached the market, Eric noticed a man scurrying in a rubbish bin to retrieve discarded food which he then proceeded to eat. As we walked round, he was approached by a frail young man asking for a few pennies to help find a bed for the night. I think this underlined why I always find Christmas a sad rather than a joyous occasion; it separates the haves from the have nots, not only in terms of wealth, but also in terms of  those who have family friends and support and those who are alone. It definitely left us both thinking about how we could best respond to the needs of the homeless and we will probably contact a homeless charity for advice. It also made us think about the DG’s partner’s project helping “Christians Against Poverty” and the important role it will play in the weeks leading up to and after Christmas.

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Categories: Castle Bromwich Lions, Social

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