A group of Muslim women held their first-ever Christmas Market aiming to foster better relationships within their local community.

The women who have been working on arts and crafts projects throughout the year, showed off their wares at community hub Saathi House in Aston, Birmingham.

After spending much of this year taking part in workshops and classes promoting cooking, cake decorating, heritage, painting, gardening and health; local ladies who use the social empowerment centre came together to end the year with a bit of festive fun on Tuesday (13 December).

Centre manager Meena Bibi. said: “Most of the women who use our centre are Muslims of South Asian, African and Arab heritage; and Christmas isn’t usually one of the holidays they celebrate.

“However, arts & crafts have been an important part of the activities they have taken part in this year and, from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to creating lanterns for the city’s recent Diwali parade, reaching out and connecting communities has played a key role in their commitment to celebrating their city.

“As we round up the year, it seemed right that we hold our first Christmas market to remind everyone that we are indeed a super multicultural city and our newly announced ethnic-majority status is one of our strengths, not weaknesses.”

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Alongside indoor stalls selling food, clothing, henna painting and home-made soaps and creams, the north Birmingham residents also unveiled a brand new garden mural, which they have been working on for several months.

Stalls during the seasonal event showcased cultural and tailor-made dresses and children’s clothes, homemade lotions, soaps and creams; festive crafts and Christmas cards, henna painting, and a range of South Asian, African and Middle Eastern food.

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Meena said: “The cultural fusion has been important for the community, providing people from different background to embrace each other’s celebratory traditions and learn from each other at this time of goodwill.

“Some people get shocked at the idea of celebrating Christmas in our community because of misconceptions around the holiday, but you don’t have to be Christian to celebrate, it’s about people coming together.

“We had guests attend our market and festivities from all backgrounds, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, people of faith and none and this is how it should be. I personally celebrate with my family, we have a Christmas tree, presents and lots of shiny decorations, it definitely brings people together.”