MARKET REPORT: Stuffing your stocking at Germany’s Christkindlmarkts
When the winter gets tough in central Europe the tough get… festive, as age-old Christmas markets spring up across the region to help cast a warm glow over the snow. Among the most famous are markets in Germany, where most of the historic Weihnachtsmarkt/ Christkindlmarkts are now in full swing (most starting in mid to late November and continuing until just before Christmas and in some cases a few days after).
Both locals and visitors from around the world flock to the sites, many simply content to stroll through the atmospheric alleys with festively decorated stalls.
But beyond sparkling trees and twinkling lights, fragrant mulled wine and wonderful wurst (sausages), rows of traditional market stalls offer an endless opportunity to help fill Christmas stockings back home or find keepsakes that can provide memories to last a lifetime.
Here’s a look at some fabulous items to buy that are so delightful even Kris Kringle would be impressed:
Traditional crafts, toys, and ornaments make ideal gifts and keepsakes. Typically made from carved wood – notably the legion of colourful nutcracker figures – exquisite items include nativity scenes, decorative candles and candle holders, glassworks, Christmas pyramids, angels, unique Christmas cards (some hand-painted), paper stars, advent calendars, porcelain figurines, music boxes (glockenspiel), incense smokers, sheepskin slippers and boots, leather goods, anything that can be made from honey (from soaps to carved candles), and plenty more. Many items are unique to the region in which they are found (such as Nuremburg prune people or the hand-crafted wooden toys of the Ore Mountains), and channel traditions that have been faithfully preserved for generations.
While Christmas shoppers may by necessity have to enjoy a warm cup of spiced Gluhwein (or the non-alcoholic version kinderpunsch) on the spot, rather than taking it home, many markets sell the specially designed ceramic mugs for later use (or allow patrons to keep the mug the mulled wine was served in for a small fee). Offered in a variety of designs (and shapes, such as a boot) they often have commemorative logos marking the time and place they were purchased. (Consider filling them with candies and or chocolates for a Christmas twist).
Cakes, cookies, and chocolates, oh my: German Christmas markets are bursting with seasonal confections, ranging from ubiquitous gingerbread, which comes in many shapes and sizes – (hanging) hearts, houses, and gingerbread people – to all manner of bakes goods, such as sweet powdered vanilla croissants, and, of course, the famous stollen or klaben fruit loafs, or Christmas cakes – the latter made with yeast dough, sultanas, and almonds, and flavoured with cardamom. Dresden’s Christmas stollen is baked according to a special recipe since the 15th century.
And don’t forget, there’s marzipan (Lübeck’s is particularly delicious), hot roasted chestnuts, toffee apples, chocolates/candies, hot chocolate, jams, spreads, spices, local liquor/liqueurs, and too many regional delights to list.
There are nearly 3,000 Christmas market in Germany; to unwrap all the possibilities, click HERE.
First published at Travel Industry Today