Nowhere is the yuletide celebration more evident than at German Christmas markets. It is, after all, the country where a lot of present day holiday traditions started.
German Christmas markets are like stepping back in time, usually set outdoors in charming town squares. Each market has dozens of wooden booths filled to the brim with crafts, food and drinks.
The tradition of Christmas markets dates back to the 14th century in Germany, attracting nearly 200 million people a year.
Present day, most are referred to as Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt. Set outdoors in idyllic town squares, usually in city centers, each market is composed of dozens of wooden booths, selling trinkets, holiday decor and tasty food.
Can’t forget the presence of gluhwein! The beverage of choice across the Christmas season, gluhwein is red wine served hot with spices, cloves and sometimes citrus. When you order gluhwein, you pay for both the wine and a deposit on the mug, usually 2-4 Euro. If you don’t return the mug, they simply keep the deposit. I’m not much of a souvenir person, but I do enjoy keeping one mug for every market I visit.
My first holiday season living in Europe, I travelled to Munich to visit the city’s main Christmas market in Marienplatz and took a day trip to Nuremberg before continuing on to see the markets in Vienna.
Everything I’d imagined German Christmas markets to be we found in Munich and Nuremberg- gingerbread, gluhwein, wooden booths selling homemade crafts, giant pretzels and bratwursts, piping hot Spatzle, caroling- all the elements that make a Christkindlesmarkt great.
Munich’s Christmas market is one of the bigger ones, spanning across many blocks. I’d recommend doing a lap around before deciding to try food/drink or buy anything. We ended up spending a few hours at the market on the day we visited, but it should be noted- much of that time was spent cheersing gluhwein in tents fireside. 😉
This year, I’m hoping to return to Munich to re-visit more of the city’s markets – like Vienna, there are multiple, smaller markets throughout different neighborhoods in addition to the city centre one. On that trip, I’m going to try and squeeze in two day trips- one to Regensburg, a small town in Bavaria and to Salzburg.
Have you ever been to a Christmas market in Germany or elsewhere in Europe?