Sunday, December 19, 2004
We have been visiting even more Christmas Markets, this past weekend we made it over to the one in Rothenburg. During the week, a friend and I took the kids to the Christkindlesmarkt (Christ Child Market) in Nuernberg. This one is huge, over 200 booths. I was looking for some info to pass along to you about the markets, and found this from an article in "Santa Cruz Sentinel"
There are toys and decorations; sweaters, caps and mittens; leather purses and clothes, and many of these are made by hand. For those interested, there's even a savory mulled wine, called gluhwein, served with cookies and candies, breads and sausages. It's a holiday feast for the senses.
Beginning the last week of November, the old town squares in many of Germany's cities blossom with row after row of wooden booths. Smaller towns set theirs up later in December, sometimes just for a weekend.
The markets go by different names, the most common being "weihnachtsmarkt," which is a German phrase meaning "Christmas market." In the more traditional (and more Catholic) parts, particularly in Bavaria in the south, they are called "Christkindlesmarkts," after the Christ Child, or "Nicolausmarkt," after the bishop St. Nicholas, whose feast is celebrated Dec. 6.
The markets go back at least 500 years. Nuernberg has perhaps the oldest and arguably the best market. It surged in popularity there, and then throughout Germany, after World War II, when people desperately sought some relief from wartime deprivations and the subsequent destruction and rebuilding labors.
Nuernberg now features almost 200 booths, adhering to a traditional code of no plastic decorations or canned music, and boasting that "high-tech and war toys are nowhere to be found." It also has strict environmental policies.
Nuernberg has expanded with two new sections. In the Children's Christmas Land, youngsters can make lebkuchen, engrave glass, press tin for old-time ornaments, and write a letter to the Christ Child, who is the one to traditionally distribute gifts in this region. (This Christmas Land also has a merry-go-round, train and Ferris wheel, all steam-driven.) The Sister Cities Market has holiday wares from 14 countries, including Greece, Poland, Macedonia, Nicaragua, France, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. Proceeds from these booths (about $30,000 a year) help with health and education programs in these countries.
A much smaller but equally festive and popular market is in Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber on the Romantic Road. The holiday theme permeates every building within the medieval walls of this ringed town, transporting visitors to an enchanting world of long ago.
I think that sums them up quite nicely, they really are an enjoyable part of the holidays. The kids had a great time in the children's area, they really enjoyed the rides. It was so cold we didn't stay as long as we would have liked, but long enough to wear everyone out. We stopped in at the newly opened Starbucks to warm up, that was a treat too.
I have some pictures from the Christmas Markets over on the photo site. (Did you forget about it? It's been a while since I put new pictures up over there) There are also some new ones in the Everyday Pictures section, look in the Sep/Oct and Nov/Dec chapters. Go check them out if you have time!