Oh, Germany during the holidays — I miss you so! My military family was fortunate enough to be stationed in Wiesbaden for three wonderful years. And through those years we came to know, appreciate and love the magic of the German Weihnachtsmarkt, or “Christmas Market.” More than an event, the Weihnachtsmarkt was an annual experience, a holiday social opportunity, and a festive tradition that helped share some much-needed magic.
And to think, I once had no idea what Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas) meant, but now, years later, I am a changed woman. Each holiday season that I’m out of Germany, I long for the authentic experience of the Christmas Market.
I’ve practically lost count of how many we attended while stationed in Germany, but they’ve included: Wiesbaden; Mainz; Rüdesheim; Nürnberg; Rothenburg ob der Tauber; Gießen; and Dinkelsbühl (my favorite village to say). If you are currently stationed in Germany, here is some information on how to find your local German Christmas Market.
If you’ve experienced Christmas Markets in Germany but are no longer stationed there, I have some good news — some US cities host American versions of the German Christmas Market. They won’t be 100% the same but are definitely worth looking into. I found one last year in Baltimore and had my Glühwein and came home with a Käthe Wohlfahrt ornament — close enough!
Why I Miss German Christmas Markets
There is nothing like bundling up, walking across cobblestones and hitting a Marktplatz (Market Place) during a Weihnachtsmarkt. For those of you feeling nostalgic with a sense of longing, these are the reasons we miss German Christmas Markets:
- Seasonal beverages — Admittedly not for everyone, but certainly for me, Glühwein is on the list! This hot, mulled spiced wine, available in red or white, can easily warm both your body and spirit! I enjoyed it with my husband and with friends, while my children enjoyed a mug of heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate).
- Seasonal treats — I can still smell the Bratwurst and Currywurst grilling, and then a few stalls down, the aroma of flavored roasted nuts. My family also enjoyed Flammkuchen (like flatbread pizza), and my children often asked for the large, heart-shaped Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) with words piped on with frosting.
- Unique treasures — Christmas Market vendors offer unique, one-of-a-kind handmade treasures such as hand-sewn items, hand-blown glass ornaments, tablecloths and wood carvings just to name a few. I love pulling out my German holiday decorations and ornaments every year, no matter where we are stationed.
- Fun for children — Throughout Germany, my children have ridden small trains and carousels and have enjoyed adorable animal displays like a miniature village of bunnies. Germany truly loves its Kinder culture, and my military children reaped the benefits.
- Atmosphere — Perfect for families, date nights or day drinking with friends, a Christmas Market is the perfect, festive social outing. Very little competes with its delicious aromas and tastes of seasonal food and beverage, live music, holiday lights, unique shopping and people watching. This long-standing beautiful German tradition is one not to be missed and will stay with you for a lifetime.
So if you’re longing for a bit of the German Christmas spirit, perhaps you can find some Glühwein at your shopette, heat it up on your stove, and fill up your souvenir mugs from the last Weihnachtsmarkt you attended. Frohe Weihnachten!
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