I have always listened to tails of the magical German Christmas, however this year was the first time I have been able to experience it for myself.
In England, there is usually only the odd person who begins their Christmas celebrations at the beginning of December; I know in my family, we leave it right up until last minute, however in Germany, before we had even managed to wave goodbye to November, everywhere was beginning the transformation into winter wonderland. Where once lay a quaint little shopping street, now lay a huge Christmas market, that was straight away bustling with people embracing the Christmassy traditions.
In comparison to the fad Christmas markets that we have in England, the German Christmas markets really are as magical as people say. I was lucky enough to be able to visit a number of markets in Germany, including the notorious Nuremberg, as well as Dortmund, Münster, Cologne, Aachen, Essen and Munich, just to name a few. Nuremberg is said to be home to the biggest and best Christmas market in Germany, and it definitely lived up to its reputation, as did Dortmund, whose Christmas tree is said to be the largest in the world. With stalls selling lovely handmade Christmas decorations and ornaments, to the traditional German cuisine, there really is a stall for everything. The most unusual stall that I came across on one of my many visits around the Markets of Germany was a stall that made lamps out of a mould of your very own hand, right in front of you while you watch! My personal favourite has to be the stall selling the Christmas stars – delicately decorated 3D paper stars, that when lit up, are just beautiful.
Once the sun goes down, the market then turns into a haven for nightlife. In most cases, the food and drink areas are just as big as the actual market itself, if not bigger, and they are without a doubt just as popular. After a tiring day of browsing around all the different stalls, warming up with a nice mulled wine and a Bratwurst is just what the doctor ordered. Then it is time to move onto the traditional beer tents to enjoy the live music.
Over here in Germany, this really is what the run up to Christmas is all about. Spending time with friends and family, enjoying the traditional ways and just generally having fun.
Despite the fact that next year I will no longer be on my year abroad in Germany, I am definitely planning on making the trip back over here for my Christmas preparations!
What sort of markets are popular in your country? Do you ever shop at markets?