The Best of Germany’s Christmas Markets

CathrinbaumbachSubmitted by
I miss certain things about my homeland, but Christmas markets & Advent celebrations top the list. It’s a magical time in Germany. On Sunday afternoons families assemble around an Advent wreath, light a candle, and enjoy special treats like Stollen, Lebkuchen, and cookies with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Incense fills the air, coming out of the mouths of Räuchermännchen (little wooden men with an incense cone on the hollow inside that blow smoke out of their pipes), and soft Christmas carols can be heard in many a home.
Pretty much every small town has a Christmas market, and big cities boast numerous ones. They start in late November and go right up to Christmas, and Germans flock to these markets with their friends, families, or co-workers as if there was no tomorrow. Bundled up visitors get in line for candied almonds, Alsatian Flammküchle and Bratwurst to name just a few. Children can’t wait for the candied apples and Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread type hearts with cute inscriptions).
Merchants sell wooden ornaments, nutcrackers, Räuchermännchen, candles and Christmas goodies. Choirs and brass ensembles perform carols. But no market would be complete without Glühwein (mulled wine), that wonderful beverage that warms you from the inside and makes you want to huddle a little closer with your table neighbors.
Over the years I have visited many lovely markets from Berlin to Nuremberg, and I have my list of favorites. Dresden’s famous Striezelmarkt is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1434.
My top vote, however, goes to Erfurt, a beautiful Medieval city in the heart of Germany. Started about 160 years ago, the picturesque market is held in a large square lined with half-timbered houses and against the backdrop of an impressive cathedral and handsome Gothic church perched on a hill. It attracts about 2 million visitors in about 4 weeks!
I have often thought that Media, Untours’ home base and first Fair Trade Town in the US, would make a perfect location for a Christmas Market, but that would be another blog.
Daydreaming of a cozy winter in Germany and wishing you all a happy holiday season!
Consider exploring the best of Christmas markets on a seasonal river cruise.

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