An Ode To German Christmas Markets

What a difference a year makes. As 2020 comes to an end, I decided to browse through my albums and came across some photos from last years Holiday season, which I spent in Germany. As many of us are celebrating Christmas extremely different from the last, I thought I’d try and cheer myself up and hopefully you, by sharing some photos of my visit to the different Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt).

I look at it as a sign of hope, perhaps next year, Germans and visitors from all over can partake in this cultural tradition and more importantly gather with family and friends again. Whether you’re celebrating alone, with a quarantine buddy, on a zoom call, phone call, or what have you, know that you’re being thought of.

I made a post about my experience in Germany during this season last year. The following information is just being re-shared. Hopefully you will get to experience it for yourself in the near future.

Perhaps the most popular thing to do throughout Germany during this time is visiting the Christmas markets or “Weihnachtsmarkt”. Christmas markets are found throughout the world, especially Europe, but it’s important to note that they began in Germany. Traditionally they were hosted in the town square of most cities and are made up of open aired stalls selling food, drinks, and seasonal goods.

It’s common to have multiple markets in the same city, for example, Berlin has over 70 markets that its residents and guests can visit. My first Christmas market that I ever visited was at Union Square in NYC, and I will say the focus in the states is more on the artisan handcrafted goods, whereas in Germany it’s more about the food, drinks, and sweets. I visited about five in Berlin and the only one Braunschweig. They were all relatively the same, some more glamorous than others.

The Gendarmenmarkt Market in Berlin was one of my favorites to visit. Despite the fee of one euro, it was stunning. Lights all around, and pretty icy decor, made it seem like you were in a winter wonderland. There was also an ice queen roaming around, which added for some extra smiles and photos.

During the week they had live entertainment, which helped spread the holiday cheer. Singing the lyrics of well known songs always helps create a sense of community. The markets run for the whole month of December so you won’t have to worry about missing one.

This particular drink, just like mulled wine, is drunk all over the place. One thing I appreciate about Germans, or Europeans that live in chilly weather in general, is that they won’t let the cold stop them from having a good time. Glühwein dates back to the 1400s. Red wine is seasoned with yummy herbs and spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus, is heated up, and sometimes served with a shot inside.

It’s the perfect combination of goods to heat up the soul and body. At every market I went to, folks could be found sipping on this and enjoying each others company. Of course, there are many other kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic holiday drinks, but this is one of the most common ones.

There were other savory dishes that I tried but let me move on to the sweets. The sweets dominate every market. From roasted nuts, to fried cheese, stollen, chocolate covered fruit, waffles, candied apples, and more, you have to try at least a few if you ever visit. My favorite sweets were actually not German, they were the poffertjes, which are small pancakes that originate from the Netherlands. So much for that right! But make it a point to visit a market or five if you’re in Germany during December, you’ll see why it’s the most popular attraction.

The markets start shutting down between 10pm to 12am, it all depends on the city. After 5pm they get very busy, to the point where you could get stuck behind a crowd, and of course the weekend is always packed.

Which ever day you decide to go, consider going as soon as it opens or later in the evening before it closes if you want to capture the lights sparkling in the evening.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Hang tight. Things will get better, lets stick together, fight this virus, and be thoughtful of others during this time.

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