Friday, December 19, 2014

German Christmas Markets

Christmas time in Europe is really magical. All across the continent, Christmas markets pop up in big and small cities alike. Cheery vendors bundled in winter gear stand under tents selling food and gifts. Germany is especially known for their beautiful markets, which sell everything from candied nuts to traditional wooden toys. 

Smaller German cities like Dresden and Nuremberg usually host more traditional and popular markets, but Berlin still has its share of vendors and stands. Naturally I spent my last few weeks abroad visiting as many markets as possible and getting in the Christmas spirit! I also got a good chunk of my Christmas shopping done... who wouldn't love a handmade scarf or a chunk of German chocolate for the holidays?!  I've ended up stopping by about seven markets, and I found that each had its own charm and unique scenery. Although the markets are open practically all day, going at night gives a much better atmosphere, in my opinion. 
A specialty sold at every Christmas market is Gluhwein, a hot and spiced wine that comes in cute mugs that can be kept as souvenirs. Gluhwein tastes like a less bitter and warm version of normal wine. I've found a few recipes online that call for red wine, black tea, cherry schnapps, orange juice, cinnamon, and cloves heated together on the stove (Click on this Jagertee recipe, if you're interested in making the traditional German drink yourself.) I loved drinking a nice warm cup of Gluhwein in the chilly nights while gazing at the Christmas lights.

Other food specialties at German markets are bratwurst, Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies with love messages written on them with icing), Flammkuchen (thin bread topped with melted cheese, onion, and sometimes ham), crepes, and candied nuts. Typical items sold at the stands include nutcrackers, ornaments, wooden carvings, scarfs, purses, wallets, tea, jarred sauces, and candle holders. Perfect Christmas presents!

Christmas markets are better shown through pictures than described in words, so here are a few photos of my favorite stands and markets both in Berlin and in Dresden: