Last month we published part 1 of our Christmas markets in Germany series in which we elaborated on the background behind the event, as well as provided a number of examples of famous Christmas markets throughout Germany. Finally, we concluded with a brief look at Christmas markets in the UK, and how Brexit could conceivably have an impact on these in the future.
In part 2 we provide you with a little more information about the traditions surrounding the Christmas period, as well as fitting items of food and drink, without which Christmas time would not be complete! We recommend you don’t read this article if your hungry!
Traditionally, the stalls which are constructed at the Christmas market are normally built out of wood and resemble small log cabins, and normally include a Hunters cabin, as well as numerous stalls where Glühwein (mulled wine) can be purchased and enjoyed. Alongside this, traditional Christmas presents, decorations, Christmas windmills and many other varieties of gifts are on-sale. Naturally, a multitude of different varieties of food are sold. Many of the Christmas markets in Germany are often accompanied by music either provided by a live band situated on a stage or alternatively through speakers positioned throughout the area. Often, the Christmas market has an opening and closing ceremony, whereby the mayor of the corresponding town will declare the event “open” and “closed”.
Christmas markets can often be used as an excuse to try countless varieties of food, and at the same time to enjoy your favourites among them! Whether your tastes are sweet or sour, you can be sure that you’ll find something to suit everyone. Often Christmas markets have foods from many different countries e.g. Cheeses from France or the Netherlands, sausages and salamis from all over Germany, Italy, as well as German cakes and baked goods. From a logistics point of view the Christmas markets are a mix of different cultural elements, as well as traditional products which all combine together in one specific location, and are then sold. Therefore, ensuring that everything is delivered in a timely fashion is critical to the success of the event. However, a Christmas market is without a doubt a cultural event!
Christmas for many Germans is viewed as the most important holiday of the year, as it is a time for celebration for the whole family. Christmas time is viewed as the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, the first Sunday in December is the first of advent. To correspond with this the house is normally decorated with all things to do with Christmas, including Candles as well as a fir branch. An advent wreath complete with four candles is also set up on the table.
On every Sunday thereafter, one candle is lit to signify advent and the countdown to Christmas. Around this time children also receive an advent calendar, which has 24 doors on it or small sacks. Everyday a door is opened until the 24th December. Behind each door is a small piece of chocolate, normally with a depiction of something relating to Christmas, i.e. bells, a snowman, Father Christmas etc.
The 5th of December also plays a significant role in Germany as this is known as “Saint Nikolas”. In the evening children put their shoes outside the front door or by the fireplace, Saint Nikolas then visits the house in the evening and fills the children’s shoes with sweets, chocolates and fruit. The day before Christmas Eve the Christmas tree is set up and decorated. The tree itself is normally either a Fir tree or a Spruce tree, and on account of its green colour stands as a symbol of Life and Hope for the New Year. Traditionally, the tree was also decorated with Apples and sweets.