The Christmas markets of Europe were one of the last things on my bucket list. Thus, a few years ago for my hallmark December birthday, I flew over for what turned out to be one of the most enchanting times I’ve had in Europe. I’m not a cold weather gal, but with appropriate gear I found the temperatures not nearly as bad as I had imagined (especially with a glass of hot mulled wine).
Germany is the epicenter of Europe’s Christmas markets. Many Christmas traditions have their origins in Germany…from the Christmas tree and rituals of holiday decorations, to gingerbread houses and the Advent calendar. Another German custom is the Christmas market. With roots in the Middle Ages, Germany’s modern day Christmas markets are some of the most magical events in all of Europe.
Christmas markets in Germany are also a foodie’s delight. Specialty labor-intensive food products made only during the holidays are featured. Stollen, a time-consuming dense bread filled with nuts, spices and dried fruit is one of the "only at Christmas" edibles. Then, there are the extraordinary sausages which come in every size and shape. Home-made sauerkraut that has been marinating in dry Riesling for several months, is addictive (and, thankfully, tastes absolutely nothing liked the canned rendition). Cheeses abound: there’s a popular raclette-type dish, and a pizza-like specialty called Flammkuchen topped with cheese, onions and crème fraiche. Holiday gingerbread cookies are big at the markets, each one hand-decorated.
Stalls compete for the most beautiful decor
German Christmas markets are a bacchanal for the senses. Think adult Disneyland for the holidays with over-the-top decorations such as fully decked out 50 foot Christmas trees, life-size Santas with a sleighs and reindeers perched on rooftops, and the most mind-blowing illumination of huge squares that one could ever imagine. Each booth at these outdoor extravaganzas are works of art themselves with every vendor trying to out decorate their competitors. Stalls selling hand-blown glass ornaments in a dazzling array of colors, mix with artisans at the next booth selling exquisite hand-made jewelry.
|Artists work the entire year preparing for hand-made Christmas gifts|
Even the smells of the Christmas markets are intoxicating. Divine scents of roasting chestnuts over open-wood fires mix with the aromas of simmering hot spiced wine, grilled sausages in every size and shape, mushrooms simmering in wine & garlic, and a plethora of freshly cut pine trees. But, let’s not forget the music: groups of carolers abound (many dressed in period costume), string quartets play classical carols, and bands decked out in traditional regalia fill the air with polka-style holiday music. It’s a cacophony for the senses.
Historical squares & castles serve as backdrops for Germany's Christmas markets
Wine-Knows will advertising their first-ever trip to the 2022 Christmas markets of Germany and France next month. We already have several pre-marketing signups, but at this time there are nine spaces available. Check out the trip: