CASABLANCA - Christmas markets in Morocco have been burgeoning the past few years amid a rise in demand and expatriates in the country.
The Royal Golf of Anfa hotel hosted the Casablanca Christmas Market with an array of activities dedicated to children besides several theme areas, such as gifts and pastry. More than 100 exhibitors took part.
Prestigious brands such as the Four Seasons offered fine pastry under the assistance of chef Brian Garner.
Visitors had the opportunity to go behind the stove to prepare Christmas dishes with culinary workshops suitable for all levels plus tastings in a festive atmosphere animated by live music every night.
The Village of the Elves featured many fun and educational games and workshops, aimed at promoting children’s personal development.
The Gourmet Village was the busiest space, featuring specialties from around the world and a rich variety of festive dishes, such as oysters, fondue and succulent paella.
“The ambience here is marvellous,” said Marceau, a French expatriate living in Morocco.
The French-run Cercle Amical Francais de Casablanca (CAFC) club expanded its popular Christmas market to nine days following high demand last year.
Dozens of exhibitors took part in the Christmas market, showcasing products from finely crafted artisan gifts to pastry in wooden huts. The catering area was the most animated section with culinary specialties, entertainment for children and Christmas music in partnership with Hit Radio.
In Marrakech, the luxurious Royal Mansour hotel presented its traditional Christmas market for the second year. The hotel’s event benefited three associations it sponsors to support children with special needs and from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Local products and crafts made by children were on sale to encourage their creativity in a warm and festive atmosphere.
Far from Christmas markets, businesses in Casablanca adorned their shop windows with Christmas decorations to herald the festive season.
Christmas trees stand tall in local markets and flower shops while chic pastry shops offer the mouth-watering Buche de Noel cake, a pastry from a French Christmas tradition that dates to the 19th century.
Many Moroccans, however, lament the dwindling festive Christmas mood in Casablanca.
“I remember very well in the 1980s and ’90s when children were taking pictures with Father Christmas. It’s not the case now,” said Najib Khalil, 48.
“Is it because we have become a more religious country and the rhetoric of preachers who declare Christmas celebrations un-Islamic?” asked Khalil.
Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.
This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.