The famous Christmas market - a street market opened for the celebration of Christmas, approximately four weeks prior to Christmas Eve on December 24th, is a worldwide tradition and creates excitement for both children and adults throughout Germany. The magic of German Christmas Markets also attract a huge number of visitors, especially from the end of November until New Year’s Eve. Let’s discover how locals spend time in the Christmas markets, and how you can make the best out of your travel while understanding Germany’s traditions and customs.
It's all about Christmas decorations, souvenirs, and presents
Small glittering decorations, stockings, and presents to place under the tree are probably what make Christmas the most exciting, and magical time of the year. As the Germans are fascinated by the details when it comes to decorating their houses during Christmas, you can now buy Christmas decorations at the market, local shops on many street corners, and online shops.
Warm yourself up with a cup of Glüwein
Glühwein is a traditional beverage made with red wine and various mulling spices, including raisins, often served hot or warm during Christmas in Germany. Common added ingredients are red wine heated with spices, lemon, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, and vanilla. Similar versions of Glühwein in different countries are British mulled wine, Nordic glögg, hot wine in France, Bisschopswijn in the Netherlands, and so on. All of them are basically made with the same ingredients and taste similar.
When you are at the typical German, or Dutch Christmas markets, don’t forget to have a cup of Glühwein, which costs around 3 USD. It’s common to be asked to pay a small deposit for the cup, but you would normally get the money back after returning it. Try adding some more rum to Glühwein if you like a more alcoholic taste. For those who are not so keen on alcohol, order hot fruit punches or herbal teas.
Enjoy German yummy specialties
Beside the Glüwein, gingerbread is another must-try the month before and during Christmas Eve in Europe. Lebkuchen are biscuits similar to gingerbread that can be particularly found in Nuremberg. Another must-try at a Christmas market in Dresden, is the soft loaf of fruitcake called Stollen Cake. There are many other sorts of pastries and sweets, originally coming from neighbouring countries, to try out in the German Christmas markets nowadays.
You can also try many other typical German foods, such as Bratwurst (German sausage with bread), Pretzels (baked bread commonly shaped into a twisty knot), fries, etc.
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Top German Christmas markets
The best and biggest Christmas markets in Germany are those going on in Cologne, Berlin, Munich, and Bremen. The earliest time they usually open is around the end of November, and they close a few days before Christmas Eve. The best time to visit a Christmas market is during the evening when all the lights are turned on as soon as it gets dark. In 2015, there are about 70 Christmas Markets opened throughout Germany.
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