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Christmas Market in Germany

It’s getting to be that time of year when Brenda and I start thinking about Germany. I know that may sound odd, but for quite a few years we traveled to Frankfurt, Germany every December. One of our vendors, a German company, participates in a large international trade show that we would attend. It gave us an opportunity to spend time with colleagues and friends we didn’t get to see nearly enough. It also gave us an opportunity to travel throughout Germany. Every year we’d set aside a week or more after the exhibit to visit different cities and reconnect with friends.

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Berlin, Germany

December is a very special month in Germany. During the 4 weeks of the Advent holiday, Germany celebrates the season with an annual festival called Christmas Market, also known as Weihnachtsmarkt.  Many of the cities in Germany establish what can best be described as a large street market. The festivals are held in the town square and close to pedestrian zones. The markets sell a variety of different things to eat and drink, along with seasonal items from open-air stalls. This is very much a community event. It is not uncommon to see entire families out together night after night.

Brenda and I have been fortunate to spend time in Frankfurt, Berlin, Iserlohn, Düsseldorf, Köln, Heidelberg, and a few other cities in Germany. Each one of these cities have their own unique Christmas Market. The smaller the city, the quainter it is. In the smaller city of Iserlohn, many of the wares sold at the market are hand made by the citizens of the town. In contrast, the markets in Berlin and Frankfurt you come across the requisite trinkets made in China. Maybe it’s me but there is something terribly wrong with buying a nutcracker made in China at a German Christmas Market. 

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Christmas Market Food

One of the things we truly enjoy about visiting Germany in winter is the food. There is a strong German heritage in Wisconsin so we are familiar with the cuisine, Americanized of course. Walking through the Christmas Markets you’ll find popular German sausages from the street vendors, along with roasted chestnuts. Not to mention a variety of sweet treats. On a chilly night, a bratwurst and a cup of Feuerzangenbowle or Glühwein really hits the spot.

Winter also brings with it a variety of seasonal cuisine, one of them being Christmas goose. It’s exactly what it sounds like. I’m willing to bet I eat roasted goose 3-4 times a week because I know I’m not going to have it again until we are back in Germany. 

There is a wonderful restaurant in Römerberg that has become a tradition for us. Römerberg is a beautiful historic square in Frankfurt and during the Lenten season has a fantastic Christmas market. Everytime we are there we stop at Zum Standesämtchen, an old restaurant directly in the square. Whether it’s Christmas goose, roasted pork, or something else, we always spend an evening here enjoying a traditional meal and multiple mugs of a good German pilsner beer.

For many years this was the beginning of the Christmas season for Brenda and me. It was something we looked forward to all year long. The communal aspect of the market and the incredible German hospitality helped to remind us about the true meaning of Christmas. After all, it’s not about the gifts and the commercialized aspect of the holiday. It’s about spending time with others.  Every year we talk about going back. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Römerberg, Frankfurt, Germany

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