People of Birmingham Christmas Market – where do they go when it’s all over?


The people who made Birmingham Christmas Market happen again this year are getting ready to go home for Christmas. Many come from abroad, with a large number of Romanians having served at the food stalls.

Iulia Onigas, from the Northern county of Bistrita, is one of them. She has worked in Birmingham Christmas Market for the third year in a row. The money she earns here helps her pay for university studies, but also to keep doing what she is passionate about: singing folk music.

Watch Iulia in one of her videos filmed by a local TV station, in which she sings a traditional folk song titled “Sweetheart, when we met”:

Christmas Market helps fund university

She explained how she started to do seasonal work in Birmingham:

“My boyfriend has been coming here for the last 6 years. It is through him that I started to come here to work as well.”

Working 12 hours shifts, every day for 6 weeks, Iulia will be able later to support herself while studying and filming for local, small budget TV stations. Back home she does not have a stable job, but she says she would start looking for one into the new year.

Iulia expressed feeling very confident about handling a permanent job, her singing and studies at the same time. She has been singing since the age of 9 and took canto studies for 6 years, so she seems used to a busy schedule.

Romanians sold beer to Brummies

All three people at Iulia’s stall, selling different assortments of Belgian chocolates, said most of the workers at the German market were from Romania. Daria (not her real name), who works in the marketing department of a local newspaper back in Romania, confirmed:

“If you go to the beer stalls, they are Romanians too. Most of us at the food stalls are. There are some Polish ladies as well, but not so many”

Iulia added:

“On the 23, when we go home, I think there will be two airplanes full of us! The agency pays for our flights as well”

Other Romanian women, selling German doughnuts with colourful icing on top, said they did not have a job or the prospect of getting one when they returned. Back home, they are housewives and the seasonal work enables them to top up their families incomes for the new year.

The Frenchman makes wooden animals talk

Still, not all the people who make Birmingham Christmas Market real year after year come from Eastern Europe.

A Frenchman settled in Spain now, Alexis Ferris is confident his wooden animals can express themselves without any need for spoken words. Watch him demonstrate the crafted animals he sells:

Alexis Fassel gladly demonstrates the sounds the crafted animals make

Alexis has been coming to Birmingham market for 5 years now.

The Jewellery Stall goes to 40 shows

Further down the market, in the Centenary Square, Claire O’Neill presented her jewellery which she sells all year round. Birmingham Christmas Market is for her just one of the places she brings The Jewellery Stall to.

Listen to Claire talk about her business.

Bubbles for Australia

One of the many displaying their skills during last weekend is the young man dressed like Superman who filled the street with soap bubbles. On the pavement he put a cardboard saying “Money for trip to Australia”. Stopping in amazement, some people engaged and started chasing the huge bubbles.

Possibly, staging a small show with big bubbles can get ones dreams closer to reality. It could be a great Christmas gift for a young man eager to travel.


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