It’s that time of year again. For the month of December, right up until Christmas Eve, the Christkindlmarkt or Christmas Market is open in cities and towns all over Germany and Austria.
Also called Weihnachtsmarkt, the Chrstmas Market is typically held during the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas. Nearby Nuremberg has one of the most famous Christmas Markets in the world, although I haven’t been to that one. Perhaps next year. According to The Internets, the Nuremberg and Dresden markets draw about two million people each year; the Stuttgart market attracts more than three million visitors while the Dortmund market can claim to be one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany with more than three and a half million visitors each year.
Yes, the Christkindlmarkt is a pretty big deal around these parts.
There are three types of stalls in a typical Christmas Market:
The first type is for buying things. There are carved wooden nutcrackers, jewelry, and clothing to be found. I didn’t take many pictures of the crafts themselves, but I thought this candle was pretty.
The second type is food- candied and toasted almonds are a staple item. So is Lebkuchen, a soft form of gingerbread. Chocolate is everywhere.
My favorites tend to be the savory, rather than the sweet. The first item here is a simple Regensburger Bratwurst – it contains pickles, sweet mustard, and a dash of horseradish, served on a semmel, or bread roll. Sehr lecker! The second photo is a half-meter bratwurst. The third is a kind of swirly potato thing that has the consistency of a giant french fry and the flavor of BBQ potato chips.
There are stalls for purchasing crafts, food stalls, and the ever-present Glühwein vendors. I’ve mentioned Glühwein on this blog before; it’s hot mulled wine that turns up during this time of year. There’s a regular red wine flavor, and there are often various fruit flavors mixed. I like Apfel (apple) and Blaubeere (blueberry) Glühwein.
Every Christmas Market has different mugs for their Glühwein. When you get your drink, you pay a Pfand for deposit. Some people collect the mugs instead of returning them to get their Pfand back. The mugs are generally very colorful, and they say a bit about where you got them, so they make excellent souvenirs.
This year, I had the chance to see the Christkindlmarkt in nearby Munich with fellow blogger Hanley. Truth be told, I like the Regensburg market better- the Munich Christkindlmarkt is spread out so that you have to walk for several blocks in each direction to see the entire thing. It’s also significantly more crowded, as cities tend to be.
There’s one more thing- even if you’re just passing through a town and don’t plan on leaving the Bahnhof, you can usually get a taste of that town’s Christkindlmarkt tradition. In Regensburg, they set up a Glühwein stand right in front of the Hauptbahnhof each year. The Glühwein is a little bit rougher there, but it’s still Glühwein. Served in plastic cups. Yeah.