The town I grew up in has a population of about five thousand people, so is probably more of a quaint little village than a town. But we will give it some credit and call it a town for the purpose of this article. In the town, you have the necessities: a general food store, a coffee shop and a hairdresser, but that is about it. Growing up I hated living in a small town as there was nothing to do and everyone knew everyone and constantly wanted to stop and chat rubbish to you whenever they saw you. However, as I have grown up I have come to love it; particularly at Christmas time. At Christmas time my town turns into a scene from inside a snow globe. When you look into the snow globe you can just feel the happiness and community spirit just oozing out. To be able to feel and experience that is real life is truly magical and a rarity in society these days.
The Christmas tree itself is the first highlight of my small town at Christmas. They put a classic Christmas spruce up and put it right in the middle of the town square for all to see from the beginning of December. It is decorated with bright yellow lights and locals often hang handmade baubles on it, which gives it a unique feel every year. This tree is also the focal point for the best part of Christmas in my small town the Christmas market.
Our quaint little town's Christmas market is more of a cosy and intimate affair than the sales events you may find in larger cities (yes, I'm looking at you London). The market comprises of gifts (usually Christmas-themed, like baubles), games (like tombola) and food and beverage stalls. However, unlike the larger corporate Christmas markets, these are all run by local businesses or children raising money for schools and activity clubs. We have a local wine shop that offers the best-mulled wine and sets that cinnamon aroma for the evening; along with the pine scents from the Christmas tree of course. There is also normally a raffle or general games stall hosted by the local boys' football club, which is always a laugh for all ages. The baubles, and personalised decorations you can buy tend to be either child or business handmade so you know you are getting something truly unique. It truly is a unique and cosy atmosphere wrapped up in the spirit of Christmas. The start on top of this already thriving Christmas tree has to be the Christmas tree festival at the church.
It wasn't until I started university and spoke to people from larger cities that I realised how strange having a Christmas tree festival in a church was; the same night as the Christmas market none of the less. My town and the neighbour's similar-sized town have always had one so this is very much the classic tale of the small-town girl not knowing any different. What happens is various businesses, schools and clubs from my town decorate a Christmas tree with a theme. This can be anything from Minions (yes the Despicable Me ones) to traditional Christmas ornaments to horses. The trees are then numbers and a couple of sentences about the theme and why it has been selected are put on a plaque in front of them. There are normally about thirty trees like this in the church. Then on Christmas market night, you pay one pound (yes, inflation still hasn't entirely caught up with this one yet) and you get to enter the church and look at the trees for as long as you like. You are then given a piece of paper to write your favourite tree on. The winners of the best tree get a gift hamper at the end of the night when the Christmas market closes. Ending the sweet little market with a festive tradition.
I hope now you understand the hype of small-town Christmas and that it isn't just as the Christmas movies show, people doing the same thing every year until the big city slicker comes in and ruins everything and falls in love with the local lumberjack. Christmas in a small town is a fun, intimate and celebratory time not only for Christmas but for the town and its residents. I strongly urge you this Christmas to find your local small town and pay a visit on Christmas market night, as it won't disappoint.