The Magic of Germany’s Christmas Markets
When I moved to London from Australia on a working holiday in October 2013, I had two options for Christmas:
I could spend it in London, with fellow ‘orphans’ like myself, away from home for the first time. We could enjoy all of the beautiful decorations the city had to offer and have a traditional Christmas lunch in a typical British setting, which was in no way a bad idea at all.
I could head to a small town in Germany named Göttingen and spend it with some Australian friends who were living there. We could experience the various Christmas markets on offer, drinking Glühwein and eating all sorts of German-inspired foods for pretty much the entire time that I would be in town. This would ensure that the festivities lasted for more than just one day.
Germany is the epitome of Christmas, which is why Christmas markets all over the world model theirs on German traditions.
Which do you think I chose? Germany, of course!
Germany is the epitome of Christmas, which is why Christmas markets all over the world model theirs on German traditions. For an Aussie like me who is used to warmer climates during the festive season, being here was every Christmas wish coming to fruition at once: a winter wonderland, historic buildings, fairy lights and decorations everywhere with hot drinks to keep warm and just an overall magical atmosphere that really struggles to exist in the Southern Hemisphere this time of year.
Göttingen is as quaint as its name sounds. It’s a small university town located in Lower Saxony, that has a quiet feel to it, yet it is busy enough to pass for a small city without all of the tall buildings and fast-paced lifestyle. It does have great architecture, offering buildings in whites and browns dating back centuries, which in some instances make you feel as though you are walking around in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. The magic of this place is right here, all year round.
Göttingen’s town layout is simple, with a town square in the centre of town complete with a statue of the famed Goose Girl (Gänseliesel) who is known to be the most kissed girl in the world due to the German tradition of university students kissing her upon their graduation. At Christmas, this square becomes the centre of festive cheer, with the Göttingen Christmas Market up and running from mid-November.
When I arrived in Göttingen on Christmas Eve, the anticipation of the holiday was so intense. Here I was in Germany, an entire world away from home but so thrilled to be able to see it for the first time, dressed in a puffy jacket, woollen ear muffs and mittens. Now, THIS was Christmas.
Most things in Germany are closed during the holidays so we weren’t able to enjoy the markets until a couple of days after the big day, but that made being there that much more enjoyable. Christmas didn’t last for only one day here. It had been going for a month already!
In Göttingen, we drank a lot of Glühwein, a German mulled wine that comes with cherries soaked in rum that you get the thrill of enjoying once you finish the wine in your cup. We ate bratwurst which were amazing, and finished it all off with the truest party in your mouth—Nutella, banana and coconut crepes. If you’ve yet to try it, do so immediately. It’s bliss.
Here I was in Germany, an entire world away from home but so thrilled to be able to see it for the first time, dressed in a puffy jacket, woollen ear muffs and mittens.
There are other desserts you can try if crepes aren’t your style. My personal favourites? The German gingerbread (Lebkuchen), which comes sugar-coated or chocolate-coated and are just delicious and the tree-ringed cake (Baumkuchen), which is made by creating cake layers as the mixture sits on a spit and cooks. Thus, the tree-ringed look as each layer goes on. It is amazing.
When you’re lucky enough to be in Germany this time of year, you have an endless choice of Christmas markets to experience whether it is in big cities like Berlin or much smaller ones like the other market we visited in Goslar, a town about an hour train ride from Göttingen.
Goslar is a stunning town, very much like Göttingen in its set up, with the town square the major focus. However, the Christmas market here was a lot bigger. It had double the number of stalls and food options and hundreds of fairy lights all around.
But the true drawcard to this market is the Christmas tree forest. You can drink all the Glühwein your heart desires, in various flavours with not just cherries soaked in rum but raspberries as well. My ultimate favorite is the toffee-flavoured one called ‘Feuerzangenbowle’ which is made by setting a rum-soaked sugar loaf on fire, which then drips into the wine mixture. Sensational!
The best part about all of this was that you could enjoy it all sitting amongst the fairylights and pine trees, nestled in your very own corner of the forest. It is just wonderful and unlike anything I have ever done. THIS is a Christmas market that’s never forgotten.
Germany really is the place to spend Christmas at least once in your life, and I am so thankful I have wonderful friends who are lucky enough to spend their holidays in this part of the world.
The best part about it though? I will be back to visit my friends (at Christmas time of course!) so I can relive the wonder of it all again!
In today’s world, technology is everything. Using our iPhones or Andriods, we can access the internet, social media websites, and even dating apps from the palm of our hands.