Guest blog post by Mary of StockLaneStudio
Christ kindle Markt: Christmas Markets the German Way
Glänzend: Glittery shiny German Christmas markets!
Germany has some of the best Christmas markets in the world. Often crowded (überfüllt), with well over millions of visitors, Christmas markets usually spring up all over Germany (and other parts of Europe) on the Friday before Advent and close up before Christmas Eve. Known as a Christkindle Markt or Weihnachtsmarkt or some variation of the two, each village market has something special to make it unique, but all are teaming with warm food and beverage, handmade holiday gifts, arts and crafts, twinkling lights and holiday cheer that last well into the evening. Beverage booths offer ceramic mugs to fill with steaming hot chocolate or glühwein (grog or mulled wine) to warm our bellies while we walk around and mix and mingle with the smells and sounds and colors of visitors and vendors that have set up to celebrate the holiday season.
Schrullig: whimsical and quirky
Bavaria is the southeastern region of Germany and boasts charming villages and cities. Restaurants still maintain outdoor seating in the winter, often between walls of snow banks, just making sure heaters and warm blankets are part of the service. The village of Rothenburg ob der Tauber can’t be missed, if only for the sake of their Schneeballen (my kids called them brain cakes). Sort of like a funnel cake fried into the shape of a ball, these yummy treats are usually sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Schneeballen found at the Rothenburg market:
The Christmas market in the Bavarian town of Nuremberg market has its fair share of typical German Christmas booths, selling intricate and delightful ornaments or handmade scarves, traditional candies and chocolates that melt in you hands if you don’t eat them soon enough. And the delightful collectable Rauchermen, or incense burning wooden ‘smoker’ figures that are carefully carved and decorated to depict all the members of society that you can think of: the doctor, optician, toy seller, woodsman, mushroom picker, beer brewer, the list goes on and on. But the booths of delightfully quirky prune people are what make you take a second look. Yes, Zwetschgenmännle are little dolls made of prunes, nuts and figs: it’s a fruitcake and a doll all in one! What better use of a prune can there be? Placed in a windowsill facing out, these figures are said to ward off evil. The comical figures are not unique to Germany, and can be found in many parts of Europe, but when I think of Christmas in Nuremburg, I think of Prune People.
The market in Aschaffenburg, Germany takes place in the Johannisburg Castle Square and boasts a mini train carrying gleeful children to a giant two-story tall wooden Christmas pyramid.
Handcrafted Mini versions of this pyramid are sold in wooden stalls in most village markets and for me, these charming pyramids have become another symbol of Christmas in Germany, ranging from simple and small to tall and elaborate. All rotate magically by the heat of one or more strategically placed candles.
Blendend unt Schön: sparkling and beautiful
Frankfurt’s Chriskindlemark takes place on and around the Römerberg, the square that is the heart of the city. Beautifully rebuilt and restored half-timbered houses are bathed in lights and trees and simple wooden craft stalls for the holiday. A fun way to tour the market is through a horse-drawn carriage, clopping along with bells and warm blankets. The Frankfurt market has its own version of ‘prunepeople’. They call them Quetschemännchen. Yes, still made with prunes and nuts, these are far more romantic. Tradition has it that love-sick men used to send these off to girls they fancied. I can’t think of a more romantic gesture!!
Köln Cathedral Spire:
Currywurst, liebekuchen, kartoffelpuffer and apfel-pfannkuchen
In Cologne (Köln), climb the 509 stone steps of the spire of the Gothic Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom, and look down on the twinkling lights, red canopied booths and throng of shoppers snacking on warm apfel-pfannkuchen (apple fritters) or potato pancakes.
Once you descend the spire, treat yourself to currywurst (a curry-sausage sandwich) and heart-shaped lebkuchen. These giant gingerbread cookies are a Christmas Market staple, decorated with frosty wishes like: Frohe Weihnacht (Merry Christmas) and Ich Liebe Dich (I love you). The frosting can be quite sugary and hard sometimes, making these giant heart cookies best suited for hanging up as Christmas decorations than eating in my opinion.
There is another more traditional lebkuchen that is delicate and just slightly sweet and flavored with honey, spices and nuts that suits my palate.
There are just too many famous and continuously traditional markets to list here– I feel like I’ve done a disservice not having mentioned Trier or Munich (Glockenspiel on the Marienplatz), or Berlin or Dresden or. . . .What is certain, is the tradition and cheer and warmth of bright lights and good conversation found in all of Germany’s Christmas markets, keeping tourists and locals coming back year after year.
Snow frosted bikes in Munich:
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