From early December through Christmas Eve, Christmas markets in German-speaking cities sparkle
In cities and towns across German-speaking parts of Europe, it’s time for a street market that is called Christkindlmarkt. These markets are not some kind of sales promotion gimmick but a tradition that goes back over the centuries. Vienna’s Dezembermarkt is documented as long ago as 1294, and Dresden’s began in 1434. A main square, usually beside the cathedral or city hall is festively lit and filled with small stalls each selling a specialty: Christmas ornaments, wood carvings, toys and wonderful seasonal foods. Most universally popular ar Zwetschgamännla (figures made of decorated dried plums), Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas sweet breads and cookies such as Lebkuchen, Magenbrot and Stollen, sausages and Glühwein, a bracing hot mulled wine. Merry-go-rounds are set up for children and Nativity scenes for the faithful.
When I was in Germany in October, I visited the sites of several Christmas markets. The quiet autumn days have since given to brilliant Christkindlmarkt nights. Tonight is the last for this year.
January will look a lot like October — only colder and snowier. Meanwhile, Fröliche Weinachten to you and yours.