European Christmas Market

You can tell it’s that time of the year again when the Europeans living in Korea decide to put together a christmas market in anticipation of Santa’s visit. For those missing some goods from home, or those just wanting to sample international treats, the European Christmas Market held in the Seongbukcheon Fountain Square (성북천 분수광장) is the place to be on the first weekend of December. The annual market was held on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th this year, and based on the sheer number of people there, it seemed to be really popular among Koreans and foreigners alike.

I visited the market on Saturday, hoping to de-stress a bit and forget about all my looming deadlines. December is an insane time at university if you have several courses like I do, and it’s easy to forget that it’s supposed to be a festive season. Arriving at the square where all the little tents had been erected, the first thing I noticed was the large crowd, smiling and listening to christmas songs playing through the loudspeakers. There was a large christmas tree in the middle of the square, with sparkling lights and bright colours. Right away it feels more like the end of the year.

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Many countries had their own stalls where they sold things that were typical to their region. Germany had pretzels and hot chocolate, the Netherlands had waffles, and Switzerland had cheese and chocolate mousse. Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland had gathered together into one Nordic stall to sell gingerbreads and hot mulled wine. I bought a cup, and got some almonds mixed in. Yummy!

Some countries, such as Bulgaria and Slovakia, focused on selling their arts and crafts. Bulgaria offered their famous rose water in beautiful wooden containers, and Slovakia had a selection of delicate glass figurines and handmade candles made of beeswax. They all looked so lovely that I had to buy one snowflake-shaped candle for my mum as a Christmas present.

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Besides the regular country stalls, there were a couple of tents that were for dressing up and taking pictures, as well as the multiculture and ambassador museums where people heard stories and got to make their own Christmas cards. At the end of the market area there was a stage where different types of events and competitions took place. When I was there, I got to see a dance competition and a competition of rock-paper-scissors, where the winners got a prize. It seems like Saturday and Sunday had different kinds of activities varying from singing Christmas carols and a gingerbread auction to a best dresser contest and traditional Russian dancing.

Spending an hour or two at the European Christmas Market was really fun. It got me into a Christmas atmosphere, and reminded me of home. It is great for people who want to sample foods from different countries, buy gifts, of just generally wish to get into the Christmas cheer. I would definitely recommend it for everyone who is in Seoul next year!

The market was sponsored by the embassies of Bulgaria, Delmark, Finland, France, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and Ukraine, each of which had a stall at the market. It was easy to find, with a 15-minute subway ride from Wangsimni (왕십리) to the Hansung University Station (한성대역). If you take the exit number 2, you will be able to see the market right away.

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Article by Miia from the U.K.

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