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. Of course, this becomes even more difficult in busy public places.
At this time of year, town and city centres are filling up with Christmas markets. To help you navigate your way safely through the festive crowds, read our top tips for perfecting your umbrella etiquette.
How are you planning to get 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 — especially if it’s a sturdy golf umbrella that takes up a lot of space. This is a highway to a telling off or at least a few tuts and grumbles. Instead, 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
Once you’re at the market, you need to master the umbrella dance to weave your way around a Christmas market without a hitch. 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. Remember: as the holder of the umbrella, you’re in charge of avoiding clashes.
Mobile in pocket
Accidents happen and almost everyone you might catch with your umbrella will tell you it’s fine and merrily carry on. However, if you poke a bystander in the forehead because you were too busy texting on your phone to notice them, they might not be as forgiving. If you need to take a call or answer a message, stand at the side or between the festive stalls to make sure you’re safely out of the way.
Opening and closing
Putting up and closing your umbrella is another crucial part of umbrella etiquette — and can make all the difference between causing fury and having an incident-free evening.
Christmas markets have a mix of shops, cafes and stalls, so chances are you’ll head inside to look around or enjoy a hot drink. Before you step inside, shake off as much water as you can, avoiding any passersby, and (if possible) leave it at the entrance or put it into a plastic bag so you don’t wet the floor and cause anyone to slip. Remember to also move to the side of the path to close your umbrella if the rain stops mid-walk. As for opening your brolly, just make sure there’s nobody within touching distance, either in front or behind you!
It’s Christmas, so treating yourself is necessary. Avoid flimsy, cheap brollies — that’s the last thing you need on a windy, rainy Yuletide evening — and opt for a sturdy design. Keep an eye out for umbrellas made from fibreglass, as these are especially strong and lightweight for carrying all day and evening. Top designers, such as Cath Kidston and Lulu Guinness, create a range of high-quality brollies, and you can get designs featuring automatic openings, which makes it easier to use in the middle of a shopping crowd.
Holding your umbrella
If you or the person you’re with are big on Christmas, it’s likely that you’ll be stopping at nearly every stall on your way around the Christmas market. When you’re getting free gingerbread tasters and browsing the glass tree ornaments, it’s easy to lose the optimum umbrella stance.
Ideally, you need to hold your brolly so that you can easily see who is approaching, so keep it straight over your head and never:
- Rest it over your shoulder — this only takes up space, which means less walking room for people behind you.
- Let it dangle (canopy open and facing the floor), just because you happen to be under an awning or roof.
- Hold it horizontally under your arm.
- Spin it between your fingers at your side — Christmas markets are full of kids, so you have a good chance of catching one of them at this height.
If you’re carrying your brolly closed, make sure you hold it vertically with the pointed end closest to the floor.
Brolly in the middle
Good umbrella etiquette on strolls around Christmas markets isn’t just about dodging mishaps, it’s also about sharing. If you’re with your partner, child or best friend; place your brolly between you both while you’re walking to reduce the chance of catching somebody walking to your left or right. Letting kids share a children’s umbrella between them is also a good way of keeping them together in a busy public space. Plus, it’ll help to create the right cosy and cheery atmosphere to enjoy your festive outing!
Bear these umbrella etiquette tips in mind to avoid apologizing for yourself at this year’s Christmas markets. Browse our range of premium-quality men’s and women’s umbrellas to get you through the season.