Going to the Toronto Christmas Market brought back a lot of memories of my time at the Christmas Markets in Germany. Even though Christmas Markets have spread all over the world, it was while living in Germany that I first heard of them. And really, I wouldn’t have been experiencing German culture right without visiting at least a couple Christmas market while living there over the holiday. So, I ended up at 2 different Weihnachtsmärkte.
Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom
The first one I went to was in Cologne. Located under the Kölner Dom, it was easy to find. This is important. I remember trying to go the Christmas Market in Düsseldorf with another exchange student and not finding it because we couldn’t figure out how to get to that part of town. But, if you ever go to Cologne, the Dom is super easy to find right beside the main train station so this Christmas Market was also easy to find.
I looked around the little stalls they had set up. Most of the things I saw were pointless little figure that I had no desire to have. Though, there was a stand selling candles. I do love candles so I picked one up for me and one for my mother.
This was my first time at a Christmas market. My host-sister informed me that Glühwein is the drink of choice here. Glühwein was explained to me as a spiced wine served warm (aka what we call mulled wine in English). Interesting. I had never heard of this before. But seeing as it’s tradition, I was all go for trying it. It reminded me of the hot apple cider we like to drink during winter in Canada… but not as sweet of course.
My favourite thing about the Weihnachtsmarkt in Cologne was that it was right beside a great shopping area. So, if you were like me, you could do your other Christmas shopping since what was being sold at the Christmas Market wasn’t really want you wanted. It was convenient to go experience the Christmas Market, get into the spirit of the holiday, and then go finish up any extra shopping you need to do. It was a great well-rounded experience at the Cologne Christmas Market.
I went to the Christmas Market in Bonn as well with my host family. I admit, I enjoyed this market a lot less than the one in Cologne. Though, I think part of the reason I didn’t like it was I had no money at the time. My bank had frozen my account for withdrawing so much money to buy Christmas presents. I could barely scrape up enough money for a glass of Glühwein. I don’t know whether it was the time we went to the market or what, but I found it to be a bit more crowded than Cologne’s Weihnachtsmarkt. I have to say this didn’t help my mood being there without enough money to enjoy anything.
My experience at this Christmas Market wasn’t entirely horrible though. I found the decorations much nicer. The stalls were beautifully decorated. There was also a beautiful Christmas Pyramid that I didn’t see in Cologne. It reminded me of some distant childhood memory that I couldn’t place and I found myself starting at it until someone grabbed my attention away from it. A musical group on stage during this visit so despite not having any money, I got to enjoy a little bit. There was a stage at the market in Cologne, but nothing was happening during my trip.
Overall, I like the Weihnachtsmärkte of Germany. Sure, I may not want to buy any of the little crap they sell, but it’s a good experience to have. It gets a natural scrooge like me into the holiday spirit a bit more. Also, I have become fond of the traditional mulled wine. I brought some Glühwein back from Germany with me to share it with my family. Not quite the same as what the markets served but still, YUM! And really, wine is enough of a reason for me to go anywhere these days.