Recently I've been talking about several of the traditions that I have been enjoying about Germany over the past two years, and now I wanted to share one of the most well known (besides Oktoberfest, which is mostly regional to Southern Germany) This one has to be my favorite....the Christmas markets! As I've shared before, we have taken part in two Christmas markets, but these were more Kunsthandwerk Märkte (Handcraft markets) rather than the general markets that are found in just about every city and many smaller villages throughout Germany.
As has been our standard tradition for the last three years, we met up with friend of ours at the Hamburg Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)
For the average American mind this might seem really strange and quite a foreign concept to go to a market that is outside in the middle of winter and stand around the whole evening in the cold, but I have to say, there really is nothing like it. The Hamburg market is beautiful. The market is set in the Rathaus (Courthouse) square and as many times as I have been there, the architecture takes my breath away every time....and to just think, that building has been there just about as long as we have been a country!
But of course I don't just go for the architecture. I guess if you make it to the third year of doing the same thing as the previous years, it has officially reached the status of tradition... really a staple. I will dream of this until next year's Christmas market....."meat on a stick"! My new annual tradition...
Another difference between Germans and Americans is that Germans like to keep it real. And by this I mean that they don't like to use fake, plastic, flimsy paper and styrofoam plates, cups, and utensils. They like to use the real thing. It is very common and normal, even as such public events to get your food or drink in a real porcelain mug or plate. You pay a fee upfront and when you return the dishes, you get your money back. I have to say that this beats the way Starbuck's does it!
Just about every Christmas market boasts a few standard items, that if left out would make the market quite incomplete. Things like candied almonds, glühwein (spiced wine), bratwurst, wooden children's toys, and of course, the ever popular gingerbread heart cookies with a love confession to that significant other or birthday wishes to a beloved niece.
I guess I have always been traditional to the core. I have always loved it, thrived on it, and now....I am living it!