Love them or loathe them, Christmas decorations have found their way into the shops. Get into the real spirit of the season at a Christmas bazaar says ALIX NORMAN
Yes, it’s Christmas season. The decorations are up on main shopping streets, the shop windows are filled with glitter and light and we’re all beginning to feel – hopefully – a bit more cheery. Considering the events of the past year, there’s a lot of good work is going into ensuring that everyone on the island has something to be joyful about this coming month. And at the forefront of this seasonal spirit are the many charitable Christmas bazaars.
Yesterday saw the Kamares Club Christmas Bazaar with their charity raffle in aid of the Cancer Patients Support Group, November 27 brings the PASYKAF bazaar which supports the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends, the Elea Golf Club has its Christmas Craft Fair on December 1 and there’s the Aphrodite Hills Christmas Market on December 8. And, of course, there’s the grandfather of them all coming up this Saturday in Nicosia, with the St Paul’s Christmas Bazaar run – as always – by the dedicated ladies of the Women’s Friendship Group.
“Our Christmas Bazaar is all about raising money for the people who really need it,” says Ella Bailey, Head of the Women’s Friendship Group at St Paul’s Cathedral in Nicosia. “It’s the culmination of our charitable year, and we always hope to raise a great deal of funding through the event.” Taking place this coming Saturday at St Paul’s cathedral in Nicosia, the Christmas Bazaar has been running for decades now.
The non-stop entertainment in the form of carols, choirs and bands ensures a festive atmosphere and even before one reaches the grounds of the cathedral; there’s a tantalising smell of curry, coffee and mince pies scenting the air as the crowds pile into the gardens for this most Christmassy of events. It really is the place to be if you’re looking to bounce into the holiday season and snap up some bargains to put under the tree. Tables groan with homemade cakes, cookies, jams and marmalades, pickles and preserves. Hundreds of handmade gifts make fantastic presents, while the plant stall boasts a plethora of brightly hued poinsettias.
There’s a bottle tombola – every ticket wins a prize, fingers crossed for the whiskey – and a Grand Raffle which, with so many prizes on offer, is well worth a go – you might end up winning the luxury hamper and be able to spend the next few weeks gorging on caviar, Champagne and pâté! Supporting the latest trend for handmade gifts, the bazaar will also boast delightful decorations, woodcarving and jewellery among other work from expert crafters. And of course, there’s the food… cupcakes and cookies to go with your tea or coffee; curries and rice for the more adventurous palate, and steaming hot dogs served up by St Paul’s very own Father John!
The bazaar will also offer its more established wares: thousands of second-hand books, good quality pre-loved clothes and a White Elephant stall. And to top off the fun, Father Christmas himself will be manning the Bran Tub, handing out lucky dip presents to the kids and adding to the general jollity of the occasion.
But, much like Christmas itself, the bazaar has a serious purpose behind the gaiety: it’s an event that aims, first and foremost, to help other people. “I can’t tell you how important the bazaar is for enabling us to do what we need to do,” says Ella. “The proceeds allow us to accomplish our charity work for the following year, and now – more than ever – that’s very important.”
In terms of philanthropic works, the group is quietly bringing security, safety and aid to many across the island, from local Old People’s Homes to the special schools of Nicosia, the Domestic Violence refuge to the Athalassa Hospital, families, children and anyone in dire need. It’s a fact worth noting when you’re rummaging through the bargains at the bazaar – every cent you spend will be going to a good cause, towards helping someone who really needs the support to bring a little bit of joy to the end of a difficult year. So diary the date right now and you’re set for a day of Christmas excitements and a feeling of seasonal wellbeing all rolled into one.
The Women’s’ Friendship Group at St Paul’s presents the Christmas Bazaar on November 23 from 11am to 2pm. Entrance is free. For further details contact Ella Bailey on 24631330 or 99753901 or Valerie Fidelia 22455629 or 99805332 For further information about the PASYKAF Christmas Bazaar call 22 345444. For further information about the Elea Golf Club Christmas Craft Fair call 99 387311. For further information about the Aphrodite Hills Christmas Market call 26 829000 or 26 828045