Christmas Market Redux
World conditions may not be ideal, but I am going to stick to our plan to visit European Christmas Markets again this year.
My friend and I are headed off to Germany today for a girl’s trip of super-sized, festive, cold, delicious Christmas overload.
I know from previous experience that Germany is really where many of our beloved Christmas traditions began and the Alsace region of France, enhanced those traditions with taking tree decorating to the next level.
Since I have been reading all the global stories about security warnings, I have learned that Germany has 2,500 Christmas Markets. We will focus on just a couple of dozen.
The markets run during Advent, from late November until just before Christmas, and all feature stalls stocked with every imaginable kind of ornamentation and decorative item. About half of the markets are devoted to an incredible array of food, baked treats and goodies of every description. Not to mention the famous hot mulled wine, Glühwein, (not my fav, I poured it in a bush the last time I visited); I will stick with hot chocolate. I will also collect more of the cute mugs that are traditional market souvenirs and customized for each different location.
A few interesting hallmarks of early Christmas traditions:
- Nativity Cribs have been set-up since the year 360
- St. Nicholas (with brown cape and mitre) was first depicted in the Alps in the 13th century
- Earliest Christmas markets date back to Vienna’s “December Market” in 1294, followed by many throughout Germany in the 1200s and 1300s, and in 1570, France’s oldest market in Strasbourg
- First documented tradition of Christmas gifts, 14th century
- Oldest decorated tree on record was in 1419, on the edge of the Black Forest; baker’s apprentices used fruit, cookies, nuts and paper flowers
- First Advent wreath (with 24 candles), 1833
- Colored glass balls were first created in 1870
- First printed Advent calendar, 1908
- New York holds the honor for the first electric lights, in 1912 on Madison Square
So we begin in Munich tomorrow, then onto Nuremberg, Stuttgart, and a side trip to Strasbourg in France, before returning to Germany’s Frankfurt.
Large and mid-size cities often have multiple markets and many smaller towns are a short train ride away. So we will see what the next few days bring and will try to post colorful photos and brief descriptions to help everyone get into the holiday mood (particularly all our warm-weather friends).
Frohe Weihnachten, Joyeux Noël, Merry Christmas.