I was in Zurich when a friend posted something on my Facebook page: “If you’re on a road trip in Europe, you definitely have to see the Christmas Markets in Germany. The Germans know how to celebrate Christmas more than any country.” How right he was.
His post intrigued me. I grew up in the Philippines, and few can beat many a Filipino insofar as going overboard with Christmas. (Filipino families put up their Christmas trees as early October. And no, I am not kidding.) I braved a snow storm and drove from Zurich to Munich to witness this much-lauded holiday tradition. And sure enough, my friend was right. It was truly magical.
Every holiday season, the main squares of major towns in Germany are transformed into holiday bazaars, and they sell all kinds of Christmas merchandise and gifts, including a wide assortment of handmade ornaments, hand-knit scarves, Santa Claus figurines, wreaths, toys, wood carvings and hand-blown glass ornaments. In Germany, many believe that gifts should not be mass produced but crafted instead by artisans around the country.
Alongside the ornament stores are food vendors selling wine, pastries, nuts, chocolates, cheese, and preserved vegetables. Your shopping experience is further enhanced by the enticing aromas of hot chestnuts, fresh bread, Lebkuchen cookies, marzipan, pastries covered with cinnamon or chocolates and other tasty snacks. (If you’re on a diet, good luck to you! So many temptations!!) Bigger towns schedule carolers to sing traditional Christmas songs. The event is a delight to every one of your senses.
Most Christmas Markets start in the last week of November until Christmas Eve. They are usually open every day from 10 a.m. to about 9 p.m. It’s a German holiday tradition you absolutely have to see and experience for yourself.
Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each week.
Last modified: July 27, 2017