The best part of Christmas time in Germany for me was the Christmas markets. Germans know how to celebrate Christmas. The window displays become festive themed. Christmas lights start lining the streets in October already in some places. There are traditional Christmas cakes, cookies and drinks. Christmas themed clothes not just jerseys (sweaters) socks, stockings even Christmas underwear. The thing I loved the most about Christmas time in Germany was the fantastic Christmas markets. You don’t have to spend tons of cash. The Christmas ornaments are original and often handcrafted. And there’s lots of bratwurst (sausages) and glüwhein which loosely translates to glowing wine. It’s aromatically spiced mulled wine which heats you up instantly; it made me feel like I was glowing ha ha. I lived in Essen, Germany which is part of the North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) region I got to visit several Christmas markets before spending Christmas in the Netherlands. This list is extremely bias as I have special memories attached to the markets.
Aachen itself is a pretty German town. It is what I thought the entire Germany would look like. A postcard village like town. Aachen Christmas market has won the award of being the best Christmas market in Germany. It is distinct because of the charm of Aachen combine with the illuminated Christmas lights.
Read more at: https://aachenweihnachtsmarkt.de/en/
One of my birthday/Christmas gifts from Anastasia my Russian friend included a wire star filled with cinnamon sticks and other fragrant spices. It is a special Christmas decoration which is hanging on my tree at the moment. She must have bought it with love as it is still sweet-smelling even after 2 years. Cologne Christmas market is rather big. There are also several markets in Cologne. I enjoyed the one which is in the area of the Cathedral. It sells items like my star which you can’t always find at other markets. And as Cologne is a mega tourist centre you can take a little mini “train”which rides through the city to the Christmas market adding a twist to your Christmas market shopping.
Find out more: https://www.cologne.de/events/christmas-markets
The Christmas market in the city centre of Essen is bigger than the market of Duisburg. It happens to be where the head of my department and Professor bought me and my classmates’ drinks. We all had a mini get together at the market. I celebrated my pre birthday with my close friend Anastasia, ate Lagós (a Hungarian street food dish), had a postcard created and took a fun roller coaster ride at Essen Christmas market. This happens to be where I bought my mom a few Christmas ornaments. These are the reasons why Essen’s market is splendid as it is part of my best memories in Germany. Essen’s Christmas market items is often cheaper than wares sold in bigger cities like Cologne.
Check it out at: https://www.nrw-tourism.com/a-essen-christmas
My first friend I made in Germany moved from Essen to Bonn. She lived in my apartment then left after a week and a few days. In that short amount of time we formed a lasting friendship. Bonn’s market made the list because of my friend Maria. I love everything about Bonn. Bonn is beautiful; Mozart lived there for a bit, there are many pretty spots. Bonn’s Cherry blossom festival is magical. Bonn’s Christmas market also doesn’t disappoint the greatness of the city makes the Christmas market even better.
Find it here: http://www.bonnerweihnachtsmarkt.de/home/
This Christmas market is very close to the Essen Steele train station. It was less than 10 minutes away from my dorm building. The first time I walked in the snow was on my way to this market in Essen. Anastasia and I went to the market on a Sunday evening and I stupidly asked if it was dangerous to walk in the snow. Being from Cape Town made me think we were going to freeze to death at the Christmas market.
At the market we met up with Elian who later became one of my closest friends in Germany. The three of us had drinks, ate and browsed at things. I ended up getting Elian’s eggnog mug hers looked better than mine. In Germany you pay a deposit on the mugs you drink out of at the Christmas markets, if you don’t return the mug you don’t get your deposit back. It is legal though. As a thank you I bought Elian a chocolate because she didn’t care about losing her deposit for me. I travelled with that mug. It stands in my room. There are much bigger Christmas markets like the ones in Düsseldorf or the cuter one in Munster. For me the memory of meeting Elian, the mug and walking in the snow for the first time is all tied in to the Christmas market in Essen-Kray Leith.
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xxx Nikki xxx