Already in the middle of November people who stay in Germany could experience that fairs known as Christmas market are getting opened. In 2021 different federal administrations took their own decision on this matter, because of the growing number of COVID-infected citizens. Therefore, some federal districts, like Bavaria and Saxony canceled Christmas markets this year. However, in Nordrhein-Westfalen, the place I live, people can enjoy markets with precautions. In 2021, there are regulations in attending markets due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that requests proof of vaccination/recovery, or a negative test.
Christmas creep in Europe starts after Halloween, and by the middle of November, several Christmas Markets are already settled up. The Christmas season lasts for about a month, which officially starts on the last Sunday of November when the first Advents candle is lit on Advent wreaths decorating the house or church. It is always on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and can fall as early as November 27 and as late as December 3. In Germany, you can’t display Christmas without thinking of Christmas markets. And since people have noted it, everyone started daydreaming about sipping some delicious Glühwein surrounded by festively decorated markets. It’s the traditional and historically established German Weihnachtsmark.
The record of the Christmas market brings us back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. At that time, Weihnachtsmärkte did not exist and were named “winter markets”. Lasting only a couple of days instead of weeks, the main goal of the winter markets was for the villagers to accumulate supplies before the beginning of the long and cold winter season. Initially, only traders were allowed to stand on the markets, who laid their goods just out on the street, not at nicely decorated stalls known from today. Over time, the focus of the winter market began changing with local families selling various items like handicrafts and pottery, so other than food, at the market. They were selling handmade toys, baskets, and baked goods. Purchasing these goods people had the intention of giving them as a Christmas present during the winter holidays. It was this sort of winter market that gradually turned into the Christmas market we know these days. For today, the Christmas market is a crucial part of the German cultural heritage and is one of the most favorite parts of the German culture! Just in Germany, in 2017 more than 1,400 Christmas markets were counted. These markets can vary depending on the region but the general formula for success is identical on every market: Glühwein and a cosy, heart-warming atmosphere!
What to bring from a Christmas market? The choice at a German Christmas market can be completely overwhelming as there are so many various objects one can choose from. The top things, in my opinion, to try at the Christmas market are Glüwein (hot wine, can be also an alcohol-free version called a Kinder punch); Lebkuchen - heavenly gingerbread biscuits; Stollen - traditional German Christmas cake with dried fruits, nuts, spices and covered in powdered sugar; Bratäpfel - deliciously baked apples; smoked salmon; and something local, like Flammkuchen. And what not to forget - bring a mug from Glühwein. This is a unique cup made particularly for a specific market that might keep your warm memories from the Christmas market throughout the year.
Honestly speaking, every Christmas market has its fantastic atmosphere of the Christmas holiday season, and the one you visit would stay the warmest in your memories. Nevertheless, there are the most visited ones because of some specialties, these ones are in Monschau, COlogn (Weihnachtsmarkt Am Kölner Dom), Nuremberg, Dresden, Colmar, and Strasbourg (in France). Moreover, I would like to mention the one I visited, that is absolutely unique in its atmosphere - the one in Siegburg, which is near Cologne and Bonn, because it is performed in the medieval style, so known as the Medieval Christmas market. Visitors can enjoy the process of making handicrafts, staff wearing medieval clothes, historical life music of bagpipes and drums, candle-lighting, jongleurs, and children turning on a carousel with wood statues and exploring the basics of handcrafts.
Without any doubt, I recommend to drawn deeply into the mood of the smells and music of Christmas Market and personally every autumn I wait for this time to come!