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CHRISTMAS BAZAAR ORGANISED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S CLUB OF BRATISLAVA INCREASES IN POPULARITY EVERY YEAR

An exotic start to Christmas

CHRISTMAS decoration begins to fill shop windows, and Christmas markets are about to stretch into town squares. The breath of pedestrians starts to steam, and the smell of warmly baked chestnuts intensifies.
It is the time of cold outside, and warmth inside. It is time to think more about one's relatives, and also about those in need.
At around this point of the year, members of The International Women's Club of Bratislava (IWCB) hold their annual Christmas Bazaar charity event in the historical centre of Slovakia's capital. This year, it will run from 10:30 to 16:30 on Sunday, November 23, at the Stará Tržnica (Old Market) on SNP Square.


VISITORS mostly seek exotic goods.
photo: Manisa Guy

CHRISTMAS decoration begins to fill shop windows, and Christmas markets are about to stretch into town squares. The breath of pedestrians starts to steam, and the smell of warmly baked chestnuts intensifies.

It is the time of cold outside, and warmth inside. It is time to think more about one's relatives, and also about those in need.

At around this point of the year, members of The International Women's Club of Bratislava (IWCB) hold their annual Christmas Bazaar charity event in the historical centre of Slovakia's capital. This year, it will run from 10:30 to 16:30 on Sunday, November 23, at the Stará Tržnica (Old Market) on SNP Square.


TO GET in is not that easy; one has to wait in a metres-long line.
photo: Manisa Guy

"The bazaar starts the Christmas atmosphere in the city," said Vilma Cipárová from the IWCB, who has worked there since the first bazaar took place in 1990.

The Christmas Bazaar has been the focal point for the fundraising efforts of the IWCB non-profit organisation, which has gathered over 200 women from 40 different countries, for 13 years. The first mini-action, which raised a few tens of thousands of Slovak crowns, has developed into a mega charity event that raised approximately Sk1.6 million (€40,000) last year, easily beating similar activities organised in other countries. And it continues to grow.

"Since 1991, it has grown in size and status to represent the international community here in Bratislava and to offer many different international opportunities to our host country, Slovakia," said Wendy Russell, the IWCB's president. She explained that everything that is sold or donated on the day of the bazaar goes directly to the charity account, from which it is handed out to selected charities in Slovakia that applied for the support throughout the year. More money also comes before and after the event.


THRONGS of people annually attend the bazaar.
photo: Manisa Guy

But why is it growing so rapidly? "Because we have wonderful, willing members here," said Manisa Guy, the IWCB's vice president.

As is the tradition, there will be the international tables at the 13th Christmas Bazaar offering homemade delicacies, original handcrafts, and exotic goods from far-away lands. The countries' characteristic handcrafts will most probably end up as Christmas presents, as they usually do. Among the international cuisines, visitors can taste, for example, the specialities of Indian and Chinese meals. There will be hot punch and Christmas carols evoking a pre-Christmas atmosphere.

Apart form the 23 international tables, there will be ten charity tables. Assisting workshops, aimed at helping handicapped people, will have people with Down syndrome selling products that they made themselves. Children behind the tables reserved for the Association of Substitute Families will sell their handcrafts, while addressing their problems. There will also be non-governmental institutions promoting their activities.

"The whole event is a nice, colourful festival that becomes more and more popular every year," said Zora Grohoľová from the IWCB, and the spokesperson for the Christmas Bazaar. "People really want the Christmas Bazaar. It's the start of the year's Christmas atmosphere... it's an exotic event where they can find things they wouldn't be able to buy elsewhere."

The preparations for this year's bazaar started in the middle of August, and all those involved work there as volunteers, doing it in their free time. For the third year, the bazaar will take place at the Old Market at SNP Square. Before, it was held at Hotel Danube. That space, however, failed to accommodate the crowd of people that visits the event.

The first Christmas Bazaar took place in one small room of the Cultural Centre of the Hungarian Embassy. With a total of four tables offering international goods for sale, the event attracted a few hundred visitors. Last year, over 5,000 people attended it.


CAKE anyone?
photo: Manisa Guy

Donations can be made to the International Women's Club Of Bratislava. Id number: 308 11 309, bank details: Tatra banka, a.s., account: 262 7016 064 bank code 1100

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