Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Guest Post: German Christkindlmarkt History and 3 Recommended Markets in Bavaria

Guess who is guest posting on the blog today? The Pierogie Vovo! I hear ya - oh great, another weird Polish word that I don't understand. Au contraire, Vovo is the affectionate term for grandfather in Portuguese. What could be a better topic to write about, while we are visiting Germany during Christmas time, are the world famous Christkindlmarkts found all across the country?
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The history of Christmas markets in Germany has roots dating back to the late middle-ages in the
German-speaking parts of Europe and as well in many parts of the Holy Roman Empire. The Christkindlmarkt (German language literal meaning “Christ child market”) is a street market that’s associted with the celebration of Christmas during the 4 weeks of Advent. Opening nights are generally celebrated by onlookers with the arrival of “The Christkind”, a young child often depicted as an angel-like girl and acted out by a locally selected child. This selection is considered a prestigious honor for the child and her family. There will be 35 main markets and hundreds of smaller markets throughout Germany; creating 25k jobs and generating revenue in excess of 200 million Euro.

Christkindlmarkt in Efurt
German Christmas markets bring the holiday season to you as only they can with the aromas of spiced gl├╝hwine, sausages, Lebkuchen (gingerbread), potato pancakes with applesauce (my fave) and of course roasted chestnuts on an open fire. My wife and I live on the eastern side of Germany in the Bavarian Oberpfalz region and there are three markets that I'd recommend for you to visit in this region:

Schloss Guteneck:  Open only on weekends, this market is considered the “romantic market”. Situated within the beautiful Castle Guteneck, there are medieval markets, jugglers, minstrels and the continuing procession of era grabbed individuals providing the feel and atmosphere of that time. Combined with live nativity scenes, advent celebrations, fire-dancing and also camel and sheep rides for the kids making this a special market not replicated anywhere in Germany. There’s also a private wine area set on a hilltop for adults who want to relax and overlook the market place and all its lighting.

Nuremburg:  Our personal favorite. Overlooking the majestic Alps to the south, this is considered one of the smaller markets in the big pool but offers every bit what the larger ones do. The must have food at this market is the Nuremberg sausages (no less than 3!), packed into a fresh brotchen roll and smothered in German mustard. This is truly the best sausage we’ve tasted in Germany. There are over 180 stalls decorated in red and white cloth with only authentic hand crafted wares sold. No mass-produced goods are allowed to be sold at this market and is strictly policed and enforced.

Rothenburg:  Home of the Christmas Museum and surrounded by medieval city walls and steep gabled houses, this market is illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights, providing a Disneyesque kind of atmosphere. Rothenburg is the best standing example of a Medieval city in Germany. During economic troubles after the 30-years war the city was frozen in time until it was discovered by romantics and poets in the 1800's and became a vacation spot because of it's beauty, which is well deserved. Christmas pastries are the specialty of this market with the Schneeball (snow ball) being the must try item. I’ve tried them and boy are they sweet. The market's unusual name comes from the legend of the Rothenberg Rider once believed to float through the skies with the souls of the dead. Haven’t seen him though. ;) Driving to the markets is tricky because European parking is very hard to find. We highly recommend taking the train or buses if you attend. Children are more than welcome, but I’d again recommend attending during the weekdays and not late into the night because crowds get bigger as the night goes on. Also, babywear versus using strollers where ever possible. Most markets are shoulder-to-shoulder people and little room to navigate strollers through the crowds. 
Christkindlmarkt in Efurt
I enjoyed taking you through some of the German Christmas Market history and locations and look forward to see you. Auf Wiedersehen!

Get to know The Pierogie Vovo:  Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area
        Wife w/3 children and a dog some of the time
        Worked w/the DoD for 35 years (20 yrs. w/US Army)
               Have lived in 5 countries, for a total of 9 years, during those 35 years
               Enjoy working on my fitness, sports, music and traveling
               Will retire in 2016 and return to college for enjoyment classes

9 comments:

  1. Super cute!! My town is filled with German traditions and descendants and we have a German Christmas market!! Its so fun!! My son was dancing polka till his legs fell off!! ;)

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  2. We traveled to several countries in Europe last winter and loved seeing the Christmas markets in every town we visited! Quite a variety of handmade items and touristy trinkets. I wish there was something like this in the states!

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  3. This looks amazing, I have always wanted to travel oversees during the winter holidays!

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  4. Lovely post. I am from Europe so we have these back honme. I hope to see some of these in the US too. They are so festive

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  5. Thank you so much for all the amazing German culture. I am German and love to learn new things. Merry Christmas!

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  6. I have heard so much about the Christmas markets in Germany and have wanted to go for a long time. I've never had any idea where to start, so this is wonderful. I hope I can visit these markets someday!

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  7. Super lovely! We have always wanted to visit Germany! Thanks for sharing!

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