December! Now that the Christmas season is around the corner, we no longer have to deny the urge to listen to to those cringey Christmas songs in the month before Christmas. Finally, the time has come for us to embrace the long-awaited Christmas joy. Here in Germany you can’t say Christmas without thinking of Christmas markets. And since we have mentioned it, we started daydreaming about sipping some tasty Glühwein surrounded by festively decorated markets. It’s the traditional and long-established German Weihnachtsmarkt!
The German Christmas Market Chronicles
The history of the German Christmas market takes us back as far as the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. At that time, Weihnachtsmärkte did not exist and were called “winter markets”. They only lasted a couple of days instead of weeks. The main goal of the winter markets was for the villagers to stock up on supplies before the long and cold winter months started. Originally, only traders were allowed to stand on the markets. Instead of selling their goods out of these cosy stalls known today, they laid their goods out on the street. Can you imagine?
Over time, the focus of the winter market started shifting with local families selling different items other than food at the market. They started to sell handmade toys, baskets and baked goods. People purchased these goods with the intent of giving them away as a Christmas present during the holidays. It was this kind of winter market that slowly turned into the German Christmas market we know today.
To this day, the German Christmas market is an important part of the German cultural heritage and, needless to say, one of our favourite parts of the German culture! In Germany alone, more than 1,400 Christmas markets were counted in 2017. These markets can differ depending on the region but the overall formula for success is the same on every market: Glühwein and a cosy, heart-warming atmosphere!
What to buy at a German Christmas Market
The choice at a German Christmas market can be quite overwhelming since there are so many different items you can choose from. To help you navigate the Christmas markets this year, here is a list of top things you could buy:
Top things to buy at a German Christmas market:
- Glühwein, of course (no list is complete without it!);
- Lebkuchen: Heavenly gingerbread biscuits;
- Stollen: traditional German Christmas cake with dried fruits, nuts, spices and covered in powdered sugar;
- Bratäpfel: Deliciously baked apples;
- Handcarved and painted wooden Christmas ornaments;
- Glühwein mug, yes you heard that right. The purpose of these mugs is, of course, drinking Gluhwein out of them.