Friday, November 23, 2012


The days are becoming crisper; you can smell snow. Santa has made his entrance down Broadway ushering in the Christmas season. Shopping madness has began...earlier and earlier every year. Wal-Mart's 6pm extension of the Black Friday shopping fiasco into Too Much Too Soon Thursday has made me think about one of the better shopping experiences that have delighted shoppers for centuries.
Started in the Late Middle Ages in German speaking towns in the Tyrolean hills, the Christkindlmarket began unfurling its red and white stripped vendor's tents selling snickerdoodles and mulled wine with a shot of brandy.
The European tradition has continued with Christmas markets dotting many towns and cities from the British Isles to the former Iron Curtain Countries.
It wasn't until recently that America caught on and now the smell of cinnamon and the fare of local artisans can be seen in our own version of the Christmas Market.
New York has taken hold of this idea and spread it throughout the city. There are outdoor markets in Union Square and at Bryant Park and an indoor market inside Grand Central Station.
The bustle of Grand Central extends into Vanderbilt Hall where three aisles highlight the handcrafted ware of regional artists selling beautiful wool jackets and delicate fairies to delight the sugarplum dreams of any little girl.
The smell of evergreen permeates the aisles of the Union Square market. The sounds of the Holidays are piped through speakers and into your heart as you walk the winding lanes of food and fare.
One of our daughter's favorite stops is at No Chewing Allowed, a vendor selling melt-in-your-mouth truffles that are impossible to resist.
Soxeteer sells socks; socks about New York, socks about basketball, socks that allow little kids to wear ladybugs all over their toes. We bought several pair for every Sockofile we knew.
Then there was the food, the mulled apple cider, meatballs - the new New York street food craze, and cinnamon and raisin pretzels.
I had a crepe filled with tart apples and gruyere cheese made as I watched by Suzette. I then managed to dribble it's juices all over a new scarf I had purchased three vendors down.
There were vendors selling the nostalgic artifacts of the hip generation.
Asia made itself felt and easily incorporated it's Buddhist philosophy into a Christian event.
The feel at Bryant Park was very similar
with the added touch of a skating rink donated by Citibank.
Surrounding the rink are several restaurants in addition to the vendors that line the lanes and a giant Christmas tree towering over the fair.
I got sucked into a booth selling sea salt scrubs and nail treatments created from the distilled salts of the Dead Sea. The woman who pulled me in had my hands feeling like a baby's bottom within seconds and within a minute I'd paid $60 for an entire year's supply of body scrub and fingernail tools I'll have no idea of how to use once I get them home. I'd also forgotten about the three ounces of liquid airline travel regulation. Until I can get it together to wrap it up and send it back to Madison in time to put it in Emmy's stocking on Christmas Eve I'm out sixty bucks.
I'm a sucker for this kind of shopping where the vendors are mostly one man operations creating things that you're not going to find in door buster bin at Wal-Mart. If you get the chance check out the New York version of an old European tradition and walk the enchanted aisles of New York's Holiday fairs.

We''ll be here all day Saturday with some great deals and some Holiday cheer. Hope to see those who can make it to our little Holiday bungalow

New York, New York
Lee Melahn, photographer
Represented by Pleasant Living

No comments:

Post a Comment