It’s officially Christmas market season! So far, I’ve been to two (Winchester and Birmingham) but I’m hoping to pop into Southampton at some point and visit theirs too. With the UK weather being a bit unreliable, it’s always handy to carry around an umbrella when you’re visiting Christmas markets and in the UK, umbrella etiquette is essential. Holding, closing, carrying, and shaking off your brolly is an art form if you want to avoid poking fellow pedestrians in the eye or showering them in rain when you step into a room. Of course, this becomes even more difficult in busy public places.
Christmas markets are in almost every town and city now and if you’re planning on visiting one this year, you can expect two things: typical British winter weather and the need for nimble umbrella etiquette. To help, Fulton Umbrellas — a UK supplier of birdcage umbrellas and rainwear — has revealed its top tips for safely using your trusty brolly in a bustling Christmas market.
Getting the right size
Don’t make it more difficult for yourself by trying to navigate a huge golf umbrella around a little village market, they’re just going to get in your way and irritate everyone else. A small umbrella that will fold up and fit in a handbag is a much better idea.
On public transport
How are you planning on getting to the Christmas market? If you fancy a few mulled wines and are taking public transport, never place your soaking umbrella on the seat next to you – as well as being really rude and selfish, someone else is going to end up with a wet bum! This is a highway to a telling off or, at best, tuts and grumbles from your fellow passengers. Instead, always make sure that you shake off your umbrella outside and put it on the floor at your feet. If it’s still wet, put its cover on or use a plastic bag to make sure you don’t create a slipping hazard.
Raising and lowering to suit the crowd
Once you’ve mastered the umbrella dance, weaving your way around a rainy Christmas market will be a breeze. Basically, the umbrella dance involves lifting and lowering your umbrella in sync with the heights of your fellow market revellers — raising it to allow shorter pedestrians to pass by unharmed and lowering or tilting it away from taller people. I’m quite short myself so I always worry that I’m going to be smacking someone else in the face with my umbrella, so I make sure I’m extra careful.
For decent umbrella etiquette in a busy Christmas market, you need to have good awareness and excellent timing. Remember: as the holder of the umbrella, you’re in charge of avoiding clashes and taking someone’s eye out isn’t very Christmassy.
Get a reliable design
It’s Christmas, so treating yourself is necessary. Avoid flimsy, cheap brollies that flip inside out as soon as there’s a slight breeze — that’s the last thing you need on a windy, rainy Yuletide evening — and opt for a sturdy design, instead. Keep an eye out for umbrellas made from fibreglass, as these are especially strong and comfortably lightweight, which is ideal if you’re spending hours looking around stalls and buying gifts. You can even get designs featuring automatic openings, so you don’t have to fiddle around in the middle of a shopping crowd to open your umbrella quickly in a shower, you just need to press a button but be careful when you’re opening them up around other people.
Have you been to any Christmas markets this year? Are you planning on going to any?