Frohe Weihnachten! Have you been to a Weihnachtsmarkt yet?” When our military family was stationed in Germany for three years, I picked up some wonderful things: German traditions, German friends and “Denglish” -- the mixing of the English and German languages.

When I was first asked about a Weihnachtsmarkt I could barely pronounce or spell the word, let alone understand what it meant. It translates to “Christmas Market” and now after enjoying these markets as part of my holiday traditions for three years, I can safely say that I’m hooked.

Most Christmas Markets open the last week of November and run through Christmas Eve. Every major German city and numerous smaller villages put on these traditional events in their Marktplatz (market place), and spread the festival magic throughout the season.

German Christmas markets offer tradition, romance, unique handmade gifts and provide a special shopping experience for a festive night or day out.

What Can You Expect At A Weihnachtsmarkt?

Seasonal beverages -- Glühwein, is a hot, mulled spiced wine, available in red or white, and Feuerzangenbowle is a variation with the addition of caramelized sugar from burning rum. For those who want to skip the alcoholic beverages, offerings include heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate), hot fruit punches and herbal teas.
Seasonal treats -- Aside from the staples of sausages and pretzels, you can find treats like Lebkuchen (similar to gingerbread) that’s often in the shape of hearts with words piped on in frosting. Other tasty items include Stollenkuchen (a soft fruit cake), marzipan figures, and flavored roasted nuts.
Unique gifts -- If you’re tired of predictable gifts from commercial stores, Christmas Market stalls offer unique, one-of-a-kind handmade presents for a special shopping and gift-giving experience. Hand-sewn items, hand-blown glass ornaments and wood carvings are often available, just to name a few.
Live entertainment -- You can typically expect to hear the beautiful sounds of professional musicians coming from the main stage or the center of the square.
Fun for children -- My kids loved riding carousels and small trains as a part of every Christmas Market. A popular stop for my little ones was a miniature village filled with small buildings and bunnies -- talk about adorable!
Atmosphere -- The absolute best parts of a Christmas Market are its festive spirit, social opportunity, and that “something special to do” that doesn’t involve bumping elbows with other shoppers in a mall, or waiting impatiently in line to check out. This instead, is a gathering of community, friends and family, with seasonal foods, drinks, sights, sounds and aromas. The German Weihnachtsmarkt is a beautiful and long-standing holiday tradition with great reason.

Find a Christmas Market Near You

If you are able to attend an authentic Weihnachtsmarkt in Germany, consider yourself fortunate. For more information click on Christmas Markets in Germany.

If Germany isn’t a possibility for you this holiday season, you may be lucky enough to find one in a US city near you. Find more information on the USA Christmas Markets.

Happy holidays and Frohe Weihnachten!