Weihnachtsmarkt: Attack of the German Christmas Markets

I know, I know, it's March. We have all just recovered from the insanity that is the year-end holidays, and here I am with a Christmas post. But I just picked up my winter stuff from the dry cleaner (took me two months - that's world-class procrastination for you), and I noticed a couple of now permanent Gluhwein stains on my (formerly) white Michelin-man jacket and that just opened the memory floodgates. Besides, I still have my Christmas tree up in my room. Everyday is Christmas day and all that crap :p. Anyway I digress.

"You have to visit the Christmas Markets!" - that is what every single German colleague had to say when I ask for suggestions on what to do on a two-month business trip. And being the impressionable, obedient little girl that I am, I went to five. Six if you count the one in Paris which I merely stumbled upon.

The Aschaffenburg Christmas Market, birthplace of the stains on my jacket

To be honest it's actually quite difficult to NOT visit a Christmas market if you're in Germany by the time Advent kicks in - every single town would have one, and major cities like Frankfurt and Cologne would have markets that go on for weeks (Cologne, in fact, has at least five, each one just a couple of meters away from the next). Incidentally, the first and last ones I "visited" were totally unplanned - there just happened to be one as I passed by.

I've always had the impression that Filipinos celebrate Christmas like no other, but a Weihnachtsmarkt  really is something. I've never experienced anything so... Christmas-y.

Cologne Christmas Market
Think actual non-plastic Christmas trees peppered with lights, walking through narrow cobblestone streets surrounded by old wooden houses, a steaming hot cup of chocolate in your hands to provide warmth as snow gently falls. Just think about it. Doesn't it make you smile?

And then there's the trinkets.


Also known as things I have no use for and would probably just get destroyed inside my luggage but I want to purchase anyway. It's just stall upon stall of pretty. You can even create your own glass ornament which is just the coolest thing ever. It must've rained EQ in Germany because I managed to not buy anything; I was too afraid of stuff getting destroyed in my luggage. I did bring home one special thing.


Gorgeous, isn't she? And the kuya gave it to me for free! He's actually my colleague's brother-in-law. I insisted on paying but he wouldn't have it and it's not exactly wise to argue with people double my size, is it?

Not into trinkets and things? No worries. If "hanami" is the Japanese excuse to get drunk under the cherry blossoms, Weihnachtsmarkt is the German excuse to get drunk under, well, the North Star I guess.

Eierpunsch

First there's the Gl├╝hwein - hot spiced wine - that made its way into the deep recesses of my coat (I sloshed it all over my sleeve as I was talking to my boss, and I had no choice but to pretend as if nothing happened). And then there's the Eierpunsch which is something similar to eggnog. Not fond of alcohol (like me)? There's always hot chocolate. But ah, it's spiked with Amaretto. Or peppermint schnapps (my favourite!). And because it seems like every third stall is one that sells drinks, a refill can't be more than a couple of steps away.

And then there's all that marvelous German food - grilled sausages, potato pancakes with apple sauce, a billion other things I cannot pronounce, and every kind of sweet imaginable (spiked with alcohol of course).

Flame-grilled salmon, anyone?
I find that one Christmas market is not so different from the next in terms of the things you would find, so the deciding factor, should you decide to visit only one (or two) would be the location and the ambiance. My personal favorite is Michelstadt - it's relatively big, it's not as crowded as Frankfurt or Cologne or Nuremberg, and the place has a medieval feel to it with the wooden-frame houses and the old town centre. Definitely worth a pit stop, should you have the good fortune of planning a year-end holiday in Europe (and if so I'm jealous, because I miss all this awesomeness already).

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