If you’re looking for a great place to get into the festive spirit this winter, you couldn’t ask for more than Germany, where all of the major towns and cities observe time-honoured traditions such as their famous Christmas markets. These traditional markets are the perfect place to sample yuletide delicacies such as mulled wine and mince pies and also to find unique gifts for your loved ones, away from the commercialisation that often accompanies the celebrations in other countries.
While it’s not uncommon for Christmas festivities to begin early in December, in Germany there are several particularly important dates falling before the 25th that keep the old festive spirit alive. The best known of these is St Nicholas Day on 6th December, known as Nikolaustag in Germany, when the spirit of St Nicholas is reputed to visit the houses of all the nation’s children and reward them for their good deeds… or punish them for their bad ones.
German children leave a shoe outside their door on St Nicholas Eve and hope to wake up in the morning to find it filled with tasty treats rather than twigs. If you’re visiting Germany with the family this winter, it’s a great tradition to get involved in.
Many traditions now inextricably associated with Christmas actually began in Germany, most famously the Christmas tree, which plays a very important role in each town’s celebrations. Although traditionally minded Germans wouldn’t dream of decorating their tree before Christmas Eve, those in public squares and churches are always resplendent with decorations, helping to create the sense of walking through a real winter wonderland when you visit Germany’s historic towns.
It’s likely that the most difficult choice you’ll have to make when visiting Germany over Christmas is deciding precisely which Christmas markets to visit, but with Germany car rental you’ll find it easier to zip between locations with ease. This can be especially enlightening when contrasting big city markets in Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt with those in sleepy villages.
Browsing stalls selling crib figures, wooden toys and candles, and warming yourself with baked apples, hot chestnuts and Lebkuchen, is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit. Even if it’s been a long time since you studied German at school, you should still be able to participate in famous festive songs, such as ‘Stille Nacht’ (‘Silent Night’) and ‘Tannenbaum,’ dedicated to the mighty Christmas trees. Most Christmas markets in Germany set up shop early, usually in late November, and are open all day long from 10am to late in the evening, so you’ll have plenty of chances to enjoy their delights this winter.