The Christmas season is one of the best times to visit Germany. It’s when the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) is in full swing – a must do on any traveller’s bucket list. They are easy to find as most are located in the centres of major cities. They usually coincide with Advent as the German word literally translates to Christ Child Market. Munich and Nuremberg were my favourites, as these markets stayed true to Bavarian tradition.
Here are 5 things about the German Christkindlmarkt that are unique from other countries — and that we love about it!
These outdoor markets are very environmentally friendly. Vendors are not allowed to use disposable cups and plates, and visitors must pay a deposit that is refunded upon returned. Sometimes, tourists choose to keep some of their dishes as souvenirs.
Glühwein (mulled wine) is a highlight of the Market, and is one of the most popular items sold. It is served in little ceramic cups – often in the shape of a boot – that are decorated with Christmas scenes and sayings in German, such as Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas).
Popular with tourists, they will often include the city and year. The Glühwein in Germany is delicious because it tends to be less sweet and better spiced than North American versions. To blend in with the locals, simply walk around the market sipping your Glühwein. While doing this, I frequently heard only German being spoken around me.
Made in Germany
Germany is a manufacturing powerhouse, so it’s not surprising that many of the products sold in the Christkindlmarkt are locally made. Popular items include wooden Christmas tree ornaments and coasters that usually only cost 3-5 Euros to buy. I rarely saw booths selling cheap, plastic, imported junk that is commonly seen at Canadian fairs and festivals.
I ate the best sausage on a bun in my life at the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt! I am not sure if the meat originates from local butchers, but it definitely tasted like it could be. Another added bonus is that all of the buns are fresh from the bakery, unlike the styrofoam-like crap often found at Canadian fairs and restaurants. Other delicious delights, like deep fried potatoes and batters, can be found at the markets — fun to eat while walking outside in the cold weather. Gingerbread cookies were also a popular treat sold in many of the booths.
Live music and performance often accompany the Christkindlmarkt. But unlike performers at a Canadian festival, these guys do expect tips if you take their picture. In Munich, this guy screamed at me in German and actually gave chase after I snapped his photo without tipping him.