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The air is crisp and the scents of spice and roasted chestnuts are in the air as you walk through the village inspired Christmas scenes. As you glance around you notice Christmas lights fill the streets with a soft warm glow where bobbles, bows, candy and special treasures await. It’s an old world style atmosphere, markets are often at the center of town squares beneath the spires of the local parish church steeples. Laughter and music fills the air as shoppers pass by snuggled in their winter coats. There is just something about Europe’s Christmas Markets that I don’t feel we have quite captured in the United States. Perhaps it’s the community aspect, the gathering together sipping mulled wine as you let go the stress of the day. Perhaps it’s people coming together and catching up as they experience the warmth of Gluhwein and nibble on delectable pastries. Europe’s Christmas Markets are simply Magical.
It’s the start of Holiday Season as during the first weekend of Advent Christmas Markets begin to pop up throughout Europe. This annual tradition has been bringing happiness to locals and visitors alike for centuries. It’s almost like you have been transported back in time to a place of happy memories and the warmth of the season. Christmas carols surround you as you experience your first glance of the sparkle of snowflakes as they gently fall around the merchants selling their wares. Many of these markets can take over blocks and blocks and are filled with everything Christmas.
Your taste buds will be filled with sweet, spice, and nutty flavors. The food of the Christmas markets change with the village or city and sausage rules and changes according to region. Gluhwein which is a mulled style of spice wine also changes with region, hot coco, and even non alcoholic versions are available for those who don’t imbibe. Every market also provides a mug for your journey. You can choose to turn it in after your visit for a deposit refund or take it with you as a souvenir. These make great little keepsakes and or gifts.
The Markets are filled with everything from food to trinkets. Many favorites are the classic wooden Christmas ornaments. Lace and varieties of Christmas ornaments are also available and many of the items in the markets are hand crafted from local artisans.
Bundle up though as winter is starting to set in and you will appreciate the warmth of the heat lamps that surround some of the merchants. If you forget something don’t worry you will find many selections of hats, mittens, scarves, and socks. I recommend a couple of cups of the local Gluhwein to spice up and warm up the day or evening. It will slowly melt away any breath of cold that sweeps the area.
If you are a lover of all things Christmas I can’t recommend these enough. Once you go every year you will have a longing to re experience the magic again and again. Christmas in Europe is a memory maker. Experiences are to me more precious then things so go out and experience and build your memories. Better yet make it a River Cruise where you can see and experience these treasures as you glide along one of Europe’s historic waterways.