By Courtney Hall
Up until our move to Germany, I had always spent Christmas with my family.
I had never had a Christmas without my mom attempting to make our house look like something from a Norman Rockwell painting. Or a Christmas without my father attempting to simultaneously eat ham and drink beer, while my sister sat by the tree, guessing what was in each package.
Now, I was all alone for Christmas. Scratch that. I was “all alone” with my husband for Christmas. Which doesn’t sound like the worst thing ever, but it felt weird.
I love my husband: He is my safe harbor, my light, my joy. He is my heart. I was truly and completely delighted to finally, finally be with him again. But we were stuck in Germany–all alone–during the holidays. Thousands of miles from home, with only a four-foot, scantily decorated Christmas tree.
How could I make it feel like Christmas? It didn’t feel right to participate in family traditions without the family members who started them. And with my husband assigned to snow duty, the loss of Christmas cheer fell on my shoulders to fix.
What’s a scared foreign Grinch to do?
Google search a solution to your problems, naturally.
And this little Grinch found the mother lode: German Christmas markets!
My husband and I are now seasoned Christmas Market pros, and out of all of the Christmas Markets we’ve been to there are three that stand out to me:
The Quaint One
The first is Weihnachtsmarkt in Dudeldorf. Weihnachtsmarkt is so perfectly quaint. Weihnachtsmarkt is the Christmas Market equivalent to a Polly Pocket doll house. It is one of the smaller Christmas Markets, but what is most unique about it is that it is an old-fashioned Christmas Market. There are several vendors that have “real” booths, as the majority of booths are actually the town folks’ garages or sheds. Visiting turns into a personal experience because you’re shopping in people’s homes.
The Wine One
This Christmas market mixes two of my favorite things: wine and Christmas. In Traben-Trarbach, the Christmas Market is held in underground wine cellars! This Christmas market is guaranteed to give you a totally different experience. There are delicious food vendors and a broad assortment of goods to choose from. Getting to tour the underground wine cellars throughout the city is breath-taking.
The Castle One
I am madly in love with Heidelberg. Not only is it a fantastic city year round, offering tons of attractions, its Christmas markets are set in the town’s castle courtyard and its base. It stretches throughout the castle grounds down into the city. Combine that with a tour of the castle, the city’s mouth-watering restaurants, and the vendors’ astonishing craftsmanship and this Christmas Market is at the top of my list every single year. Tour the lit booths with steaming cocoa in your hands and look up to see Heidelberg Castle illuminated in the night sky. It’s one of the most magical experiences I’ve had in Germany.
As we face leaving Germany, I find myself wondering, what on Earth are we going to do for Christmas next year? My son has now grown up going to Christmas markets, a tradition that we now cherish. It is truly Germany at its absolute best. If ever a chance comes your way to come and experience a true German Christmas market, do not hesitate, friend. You will not regret it.
Photo credit: ReneS at flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons and Courtney Hall
Courtney Hall is an army brat, Air Force spouse and mother to a beautiful, active little boy. She has her degree in Social Work and is a Key spouse for CE. GOTTA BE CE! She stays busy by chasing after her ever destructive fun loving son and keeping up with her handsome yet nerdy video gaming husband; while attempting to steal away for a few moments each day and feed her soul with books.