Travelogue LXVIII: Weihnachten

St. Bonifatius watches over the Christmas Market in Mainz.

St. Bonifatius watches over the Christmas Market in Mainz.

December 23, 2015 For such a unapologetically secular country, Germany does Christmas like nobody’s business. Here, Christmas is not just a day in December preceded by weeks of materialism and bad music on the radio, but rather a real season, full of ritual and traditions that transcend packed department stores and Santa kitsch imported from America.

Christmas day (the 24th in Germany, not the 25th) is the final tiny door on the advent calendar, the last mug of Glühwein, a simple plate of potato salad and sausage because the lady of the house doesn’t have to cook. Weihnachten, halt.

The Market in Ingelheim, in the ruins of an 800-year-old church.

The Market in Ingelheim, in the ruins of an 800-year-old church.

At the center of Christmas in Germany are the Weihnachtsmärkte, the Christmas Markets, opened all day every day starting the beginning of Advent. Almost every town has one, small or large–a few stands in the local Dorf, an entire village in Frankfurt or Nürnberg.

The Weihnachtsmärkte are not universally loved. Many Germans have to get a certain amount of complaining/general grumping out of their systems on the topic: It’s a lot of standing around in the cold…too commercialized nowadays…cheap alcohol and sugar. But somehow, everyone ends up in front of their favorite Glühwein stand anyway, tipsy and eating Bratwurst and generally having a marvelous time. And not just once. The translation company where I work had not one but two Christmas get-togethers at the Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt within the space of two weeks.

Glühwein--hot mulled wine drunk from mugs--is at the center of Weihnachtsmarkt cuisine.

Glühwein–hot mulled wine drunk from mugs–stands at the center of Weihnachtsmarkt cuisine. 

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If Glühwein isn't enough, there's always Feuerzangenbowle: mulled wine with the addition of a rum-soaked, flaming sugarloaf. Bam.

If Glühwein isn’t enough, there’s always Feuerzangenbowle: mulled wine with the addition of a rum-soaked, flaming sugarloaf. Bam.

And of course there's meat.

And of course there’s meat.

Lots of meat.

Lots of meat.

But also roasted chestnuts....

But also roasted chestnuts….

...and Lebkuchen (gingerbread) hearts...

…and Lebkuchen (gingerbread) hearts…

...and Schneebälle (snowballs), sweet dough strips covered in chocolate and marzipan and nuts.

…and Schneebälle (snowballs), sweet dough strips covered in chocolate and marzipan and nuts…

…not to mention Reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes), Flammkuchen (thin-crust French pizza), Dinele (wood-fired flat bread), Stollen (like fruit cake only 1000% better), hot potato soup, candied almonds, chocolate-covered fruit, and Crepes with Nutella.

During the Christmas season in Germany, the Weihnachtsmarkt is pretty much the place to be.

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2 thoughts on “Travelogue LXVIII: Weihnachten

  1. Sounds wonderful! The drinks, the food, the beautiful candles and the celebration. We are in MN. It is cold and yesterday we got a dusting of snow. The lakes are not frozen because of the warm Fall. The pond behind Leslie’s house is just starting to freeze.Last night Leslie and Dan took us to a Christmas play. It was a spoof on The Christmas Carol. The play took place in a Northern MN bar, with the MN accent. “Don-cha know”. The three ghosts came to see the bar tender, who was Scrooge. The ghosts were played by the same man in a very bad wig and a fake French accent. So you can tell it was a different kind of Christmas Carol.After, they took us to a small brewery. Lots of young people talking very loudly in an old warehouse with poor acoustics. Not my kind of place!Tomorrow the boys and wives are coming over after lunch. So we will have a late opening of gifts. Poppy made the boys chip carved gourds and I gave the wives a painted box I did years ago. I knit a cap and mitts for Sarah. Everyone gets cash just like your family. We’ll have a late dinner. Church tonight. More later. Love Granny

    From: Emily Abroad To: crgoodling@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, December 24, 2015 5:05 AM Subject: [New post] Travelogue LXVIII: Weihnachten #yiv2975741178 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2975741178 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2975741178 a.yiv2975741178primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2975741178 a.yiv2975741178primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2975741178 a.yiv2975741178primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2975741178 a.yiv2975741178primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2975741178 WordPress.com | EmilyAbroad posted: “December 23, 2015 For such a unapologetically secular country, Germany does Christmas like nobody’s business. Here, Christmas is not just a day in December preceded by weeks of materialism and bad music on the radio, but rather a real season, full of ” | |

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