Living in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving, it seems like Christmas comes knocking at your door especially early in Germany. First appearing everywhere are Advent calendars, Stollen cakes, Spekulatius (Spice) cookies, and decorations. Then comes what we have all been waiting for: German Christmas Markets!
Here are 10 tips for making the most of German Christmas Markets.
1. Make a plan:
Think of briefing your family and friends like a coach in the locker room before a big game. “We are going to hit up Stuttgart, hit Heidelberg the next day and then swing over to Wiesbaden in the final hours.” Prior research will ensure you don’t miss the market in your favorite town.
2. The Christmas town:
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an enchanting medieval city. Even if markets are closed this year, visiting this city will get you in the Christmas spirit! Try the local “Schneeball” pastry then visit the biggest Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store.
3. Make a weekend out of it:
For either a local market or a road trip-worthy city, try booking a room in the city center. Perhaps you can even stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast that looks out onto the charming lights of the market. How romantic!
4. Go to your local small fest:
Meet some of your neighbors at your local fest, which may only be one weekend or one night.
5. Dress Warm:
Dress for the extreme cold and remember you might not be moving much at times, which would normally keep you warm.
6. Bring the kids:
The markets are very child-friendly and usually have rides, games and treats for kids! The markets on the weekends can get very packed and I do not suggest trying to push a stroller through a crowd of standing people.
7. Designated Driver, Cab or Train it:
Unless you are going to warm your belly with mugs of hot chocolate all night, Glühwein has alcohol in it and may affect you more than you expect. Luckily, public transportation is readily available in Germany, so you can enjoy your alcoholic beverages and get home safely.
8. Speaking of mugs!
Each market has its own signature mug, and you can collect them. Either they have them for sale at the stand, or you can just keep the mug that you received with your drink.
9. Not ready to join any crowds yet?
Well you can make your own personal Christmas Market at home! You can buy Glühwein in the alcohol section of any food store. Just warm up a bottle on a stovetop, and then add some orange slices.
10. Meet your friends:
More than the shopping, eating and drinking, the fests are about being with loved ones and spreading holiday cheer. Germans have an expression for this feeling of being cozy, socially accepted and friendly called “Gemütlichkeit.” It comes from the adjective ‘gemüt’, which means “heart, mind, temper, feeling.”
So grab your holiday shopping list and share some Gemütlichkeit this year at a German Christmas Market!
Author’s Profile: Gemma is a ‘A Jersey Broad Abroad’ blogger and podcaster living in Wiesbaden, Germany. She is either found spending time with her family or planning her next adventure.