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Enjoy the Magic of German Christmas Markets
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There are Christmas Markets across the whole of Germany, happening in towns, cities and villages. This sociable tradition has evolved over the centuries from the first markets that were little more than a winter market that lasted a couple of days. Traders simply laid out their wares on the streets with only local tradesmen allowed to sell their goods. Today’s Christmas Markets have stayed true to their origins with each regional market being a festive meeting place for locals and a market for speciality home-made Christmas ornaments and decorations.. You can easily find at least 68 of the main Christmas markets around Germany.
Most markets are set up around the church and its surrounding lanes as they were in olden times. Stalls sell everything from food and drink to traditional Christmas gifts including wooden toys, glass, ceramic and porcelain articles and lighting and decorations. Most Christmas Markets start in the last week of November and run through to Christmas Eve. Many will be closed on 24th November as this is a German Remembrance Day.
What can you expect in terms of food and drink? Glühwein stands are one of the most popular selling a variety of gently spiced mulled wines and other hot drinks such as Feuerzangenbowle which is a hot red wine, with cinnamon sticks, orange peel and cloves. Suspended over the bowl is a huge lump of sugar (around 7” long) that is soaked in rum and then set alight. More rum is poured over it until all the sugar has caramelised and melted into the wine below. Bratwurst – a kind of spicy pork sausage – is the traditional food to eat and there are more than 40 different regional variations for you to try. Christmas Stollen is the German Christmas Cake and everyone will love Lebkuchen, which is similar to gingerbread but made from honey and a variety of spices. The soft texture of these biscuits is also slightly crunchy from the nuts that are included.
So what are the most sought after and popular gifts – top of the list has to be the Nutcracker which was first developed around 1870 in Erzgebirge, an area south of Dresden. The Pyramid is hand-crafted from wood with blades on the top that revolve from the heat of the candles that are contained within. Incense smokers came from Heidelberg in 1850 and traditionally the incense they smoked was to remind people of one of the gifts that the Three Wise Men brought Jesus. Music boxes and figures, beeswax candles and baubles are also very popular gifts.