Christmas Markets in Germany
|Me, Shannon, Shari, and Alison|
The day after Thanksgiving I went to my very first Weihnachtsmarkt in Esslingen. It was my first “girls trip” with Alison Hadzic, Shannon Torrescollazo, and Shari Weiss. Three super fun ladies I've recently befriended here in Germany. We arrived around 3:00p.m. and got right to shopping, taking pictures, tasting the delicious sweets and drinking Glühwein.
The beauty of glühwein is that you can tailor it to your own tastes. I like mine to be rich in spices, however if that is not your cup of tea, then reduce the amount of spices you add. Just use this recipe as a base and then go in the direction that best suites your tastes. Some people even add rum, or berries, which soak up the alcohol quite nicely. In a more glögg-esque version (The Swedish version of glühwein/mulled wine), having this with gingerbread is quite yummy. I have also tried some consisting of amaretto with white wine (such as a German Riesling and even Schwartz/black Riesling) instead, and that was also delicious
- 1 bottle of red wine. Use an inexpensive, full bodied, fruity wine. You definitely do not want to use an expensive bottle and try to avoid one with oak aging. I think a Gallo Ruby Cabernet would be ideal. Or a red Zinfandel or Syrah /Shiraz.
- Caster sugar (amount proportional to quality of red wine, the worse the wine the more sugar you need, add it to taste, but start with about 2 cups)
- 2 Cinnamon sticks (break the sticks into pieces 1-2 inches each)
- 16 Whole cloves
- 1 Orange
- 1 Tbs Whole allspice
- 2 cups of orange juice
- Pour the red wine into a large pot and put it on the stove on a very low heat – you must not let the wine boil or the world could end… and that is not something you want to risk...
- Cut the oranges into slices and then put about 4 cloves into each slice, then put them in with the wine.
- Break the cinnamon sticks in half or thirds and put them in with the wine as well as the whole allspice.
- Add in the sherry or port (optional) as well as 2 cups of orange juice.
- Add in 2 cups of sugar and stir.
- Stir on and off for about 30 mins to give the spices time to infuse with the wine and for the magic to occur, then taste it, and add more sugar as needed (possibly up to 4 or 5 cups more if the wine is really bad).
- Let it cook/infuse for about 30 mins more (again, not letting it boil).
- Drink and be happy :)
With over 180 stalls, the Esslingen Christmas Market is one of the largest in the region. What makes this market unique is the Medieval section. Towards the back of the Christmas Market there is a Renaissance Faire taking place. Once inside you will find traders in period costumes selling their wares and glühwein served in stone cups. We saw a felt dyer, a blacksmith, and an old glass blower showing off their crafts.
This year guests had the opportunity to take part in the "participatory workshops" at the silversmith, Lederer, broom-maker, engraver, or even try out the scissors grinder.
The next market we visited was Nuremberg; a two hour drive via car on the autobahn. Once Matt and I finally found a parking garage we bundled ourselves up and hit the streets for some warm drinks and a toilet.
Every year, Germany's most famous Christmas Market opens its stalls for visitors from all over the world, right in the middle of the city, on Nuremberg Main Market Square. At 5:30 pm on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday, the Christmas Angel opens her market, reciting the solemn prologue from the gallery of the church of Our Lady. And as every year, by Christmas Eve, more than two million visitors from all over the world will have sampled the delights of the Christmas Market.
About 180 wooden stalls, festooned with red-and-white cloth, have given the Christmas Market its name of "Little Town from Wood and Cloth". 200 stall holders present their traditional wares: Nuremberg spicy gingerbread, fruit loaves, bakery goods and sweets, typical Christmas articles examined as Christmas tree angels, cribs, Christmas tree ornaments and candles, toys as well as arts and crafts products. Favorite souvenirs include "Nuremberg Plum People", little figures made from prunes. And of course, by way of refreshments, there are always rolls with Nuremberg roast sausages and mugs of mulled wine.
|Shari eating a crepe|
The staff of the Market Department keep a watchful eye on the stalls and the goods on offer. So plastic fir garlands are a definite no-no, just as much as non-stop taped Christmas muzak or carousels. The market's stall holders therefore compete for the most beautiful and tasteful stall design. And reap their rewards: since 1981, the City has presented an annual award of gold, silver and bronze "Plum People" for the most beautiful stalls.
Nuremberg Christmas Market with its traditional image has been a model for other Christmas Markets. The "Little Town from Wood and Cloth" has been much in demand as a picturesque backdrop for TV productions.
Matt and I agreed, the best Weihnachtsmarkt in Germany was right here in Stuttgart, one of the most famous in all of Germany. The festively illuminated city dominated by the medieval Old Palace, the towers of the abbey church and the magnificent baroque buildings of the New Palace, is the magnificent backdrop of the Stuttgart Christmas market.
In 30 days, about 3.5 million people visited the Stuttgart Christmas Market. There was a wide range of 274 stalls selling things like handmade ornaments, socks, toys, jewelry, kitchen essentials, and art.
Throughout the market one can find Christmas lights, sparkling jewelry, the smell of cinnamon and vanilla, Bratwurst and mulled wine. There is also Christmas music playing aloud for all to enjoy.
The booths in Stuttgart have wooden roofs which are beautifully decorated to include images of Santa with a flowing beard, angel figurines, and beautiful winter landscapes. With more than 300 years of tradition and the attractive range of Christmas goods it's no wonder why this is one of the most magnificent Christmas markets in Europe.
The Stuttgart Christmas market has been a historic success since1692. It was first mentioned for being the "decorated shack town" between the castle, Schiller Monument, and the marketplace which was turned into a popular meeting place for visitors from all over Europe. All kinds of Christmas magic, Christmas decorations, wooden toys, nativity figures, snacks and delicacies can be found at the Stuttgart Christmas market, which has maintained its character of a historic market over these 300 years.