Many popular Christmas traditions originate in Germany – Christmas trees, Erzgebirge carved wooden figures, Lauscha glass Christmas tree balls, Herrenhuter Sterne (colourful stars - see photo above), Nußknacker (nutcrackers), Advent wreaths and Advent calendars to mention but a few . . . Christmas is also a very significant time of year for the German tourism sector - especially for incoming agencies, group travel organisers, accommodation providers, coach operators, tour guides, shopping malls and restaurants.
So what is the big attraction? Literally thousands of enchanting Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) with their historic carousels, yultide pageants, arts & crafts and culinary delights - the most famous of these being Germany's oldest Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, the magnificent Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg and the Römerberg in Frankfurt am Main.
Photo: 'Back to the Roots' - the Dresdner Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Saxony © Dresden Marketing 2019
Every town and city has its own special attraction or memorable Christmas highlight – Kassel (Hessen), for instance, has the largest fairy-tale pyramid and Schlitz (also Hessen) the worlds largest Christmas candle. The German Hauptstadt or capital city, Berlin, has some sixty Christmas markets alone, the largest being in Spandau with a total of 250 stalls and stands. Cologne, with its magnificent Gothic Cathedral, is a magnet for visitor groups from the Netherlands and the UK in particular.
And there are so many exciting things for visitors to see and do:
- Stroll through festively decorated, brightly lit, pulsating and seasonally scented squares, lanes and thoroughfares with wafting aromas of cinnamon, aniseed, cloves and muscat.
- Enjoy traditional delicacies such as Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), Bratwurst (pork sausage), Stollen (fruit cake), Lebkuchen (gingerbread) or Spekulatius (seasoned biscuits) - all washed down by a cup of steaming Glühwein (mulled-wine) or heartwarming Feuerzangenbowle (rum toddy)
- Followed by roast chestnuts & almonds, marzipan treats from the city of Lübeck, Frankfurter Bethmännchen or assorted chocolate-coated fruits.
- Rub shoulders and mingle with the locals while listening to the charming sounds of hand bells, carol singers and loden-clad trumpeters. A special choral tip, the Weihnachtsliederabend des Thomanerchor Leipzig, in the Thomaskirche Leipzig.
- Many theme parks are also open throughout Christmas, having been magically transformed into fabulous winter wonderlands, e.g. Winterzauber in the Europapark Rust.
- Numerous high-profile winter sports events may also be incorporated into longer-stay Christmas, Slyvester (New Year) and / or incentive travel programmes. A fine example being the spectacular Neujahrsskispringen (New Year ski-jumping tournament) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Photo: "Bethmännchen", Römerberg, Frankfurt am Main © Dr. Patrick Patridge 2019
... and it was always said of him (Scrooge), that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.
May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!
from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Frohe Weihnachten - Merry Christmas!
Photo: "Die Feuerzangenbowle" at the Paulskirche, Paulsplatz, Frankfurt am Main © Dr. Patrick Patridge