Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Christmas Markets 101

The Christmas markets are such a large part of the overall German wintertime experience. We really didn’t know what we would find last year and thus traveled far and wide to visit as many Christmas markets as possible. After that sampling, and honestly some disappointment, we curtailed our expectations, travelled less and enjoyed more. After a less maniac Christmas market season, we all endorse them and suggest you come see us and them for yourselves!

The basic Christmas market includes outdoor stalls selling food, crafts and holiday decorations. There is usually some music, brass bands if you are lucky, and a Nativity scene. Some of the markets have live animals and a petting zoo Nativity thing going on. Others have a Nativity scene set up behind glass. Still others have a kind of toy mechanized version, with child sized figurines doing Nativity things over and over again. We like them all. Food of choice is brat mit baguette (sausage in bread roll) for some of us, large French fries for some of us and cotton candy for the rest. Drink is gluwein, whether you like it or not, or kinder punch, the non-alcoholic version. We had a hard time processing all this sensory overload until we realized it was like a state fair. Then we understood it and ordered up another caramel apple.
Some of the Christmas markets have a theme, such as one just off of Marienplatz, the main square in Munich, is a glass blowing market. Another favorite downtown is the Medieval Christmas market, complete with jousting knights, wild game food and court jesters. I think we managed to keep Adam from buying a sword this year but all kids bring their money and buy presents for each other, or in the case of the annual sword purchase, for themselves. The markets do get crowded and cold, as everything is outside.
This year we visited the tiny Christmas market in the village we live in. This market is back off the main road through town and thus easily missed by non-locals. We missed it last year of course. But this year we wandered through town, looking at all the lights the village puts up and stumbled into the market. There we had our first gluwein of the season, bought our first ornament of the season, watched some local students play the drums, admired some sheep and said hello to the lady who runs the stationary shop. It felt just right, festive and fun and quiet and only minutes away from our warm house. We still try to do it all but sometimes we learn a little along the way.


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