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FROHES WEIHNACHTEN: A Visit to Germany's Christmas Markets [Lots of pictures, not 56k-friendly]
SPIEGEL Online ^ | December 07, 2006 | Various

Posted on 12/07/2006 11:30:05 PM PST by wolf78

FROHES WEIHNACHTEN A Visit to Germany's Christmas Markets

Germany's Christmas markets are famous the world over. And it's that time of year again. The mulled wine is brewing, the lights are up, and Germans are spending their evenings strolling through their very own winter wonderland. Here's SPIEGEL ONLINE's guide to some of the best Christmas markets in Germany ... and a few of the worst.

For hundreds of years, merchants have erected small wooden huts in the ancient centers of cities and towns all across Germany at Christmas, where artisans peddle handicrafts, baked goods, regional cuisine and millions of liters of Glühwein (mulled wine) to help keep Jack Frost away. For the month of December, right up to the 24th, and in some cases until New Year's, the country's world-famous Christmas markets offer a sort of mini Oktoberfest all across the country, where dirndl-clad Bavarian bar wenches, beer and pretzels are replaced with Saint Nicholas, Glühwein, gingerbread, fruitcake, speculatius and other holiday delights.

With regular December snowfall, in many Germany cities, a White Christmas is almost guaranteed at a number of local Weihnachstmärkte (Christmas markets) or Christkindlesmärkte. The most famous include Nuremberg's Christmas market, which draws millions each year and dates back to the 16th century, and Dresden's Striezelmarkt, famous for its delicious, powdered sugar-coated Stollen fruit cakes.

The markets are a major draw, luring 160 million visitors from around the world to more than 2,500 Christmas markets. These temples to Christmas spirit also provide a needed once-a-year booster shot in the arms of local economies, with total Christmas market-related tourism spending estimated at close to €5 billion per year. Not bad for an oversized crafts and bake sale.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Germany
KEYWORDS: christmas; germany
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Dresden's Christmas Market is the oldest in Germany and attracts a huge number of visitors from across the country every year.

Munich marks the opening of this year's Christkindl market at Marienplatz. A huge Christmas tree lights up the square in front of the city's town hall.

Stuttgart has a big fair ground at its Christmas market. This ride is in the shape of a giant Christmas bauble.

A young member of a music group takes a a break between peformances at Munich's Christmas market.

Christmas wonder: A child and its mother peer through the window of one of the many stalls at a Berlin Christmas Market.

Colorful cakes or "Lebküchen" hang in Nuremburg's market. This is probably Germany's most famous Christmas market. Its traditional wooden stalls in the heart of the medieval city attracts visitors from Germany and beyond.

Santa Clause enjoys a quick smooch with an angel at the market next to Berlin's Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church.

People gather between the illuminated stands of the traditional Christmas market at the Roemer Square in central Frankfurt.

Aachen hosts a charming market nestled beneath its impressive cathedral. In the year of his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in 768, Charlemagne came to spend Christmas at Aachen for the first time. He liked the place so much he decided to build a palace in the city. The cathedral is all that remains.

The town of Quedlinburg in Saxony on the sunny first weekend in Advent. Quedlinburg is one of the best-preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe, having miraculously escaped major damage in World War II. The town and its castle are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage.

Santa Claus and another of those angels opened Dresden's 572nd Striezelmarkt last week. The market's highlights include a Pepper Cake festival and a Stollen festival. For the first time ever the market will be streamed live on the Internet.

One of the most popular activities at any Christmas markets is the sipping of lots and lots of Glühwein (mulled wine).

Kassel's market boasts the biggest Christmas pyramide in the world.

Hamburg's St. Pauli red light district is putting on its own erotic Christmas market -- strictly adults only. The market has erotic shops, lingerie stalls, fashion shows, strippers and readings of saucy Christmas stories.

A rather less risque form of entertainment at Berlin's Christmas market in the Gendarmenmarkt, right in front of the French Cathedral.

The Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin lights up the Concert House and French Cathedral in central Berlin. Just a short stroll from the busy shopping area around Friedrichsstrasse, it has a program of entertainers as well as many shops, bars and restaurants.
1 posted on 12/07/2006 11:30:09 PM PST by wolf78
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To: wolf78

An Easter Bunny protests against Christmas. This grumpy creature has climbed up the tower of the Nikolai Church in Roemer Square, Frankfurt.

Erotic models dressed like Christmas angels slide down a small hill made of artificial snow at the so-called "Horny Christmas Market" at the famous red light district "Reeperbahn" in Hamburg.

Handicrafts are a traditional part of Christmas markets. Hand-made old-fashioned houses are on sale at a stall in Erfurt's Christmas market. There is also a fairy tale forest, a backer's shop and a candlemaker's workshop.

Lübeck's Christmas market glimmers with fairy lights. The birthplace of Thomas Mann, the medieval city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eva Sattler, dressed as Christkindl (Christ Child), recites the traditional prologue for the opening ceremony of Germany's oldest Christkindlesmarkt. The first official record of the market dates from 1628.

Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher and his wife Cora attended the opening of the Christmas market in Gut Aiderbichl near Salzburg, Austria. They were snapped in front of the donkey in the nativity crib.

There's a lot of window shopping at the Christmas markets. Here visitors to one of Berlin's markets check out one of the many stalls.

People look at Christmas tree decorations, during the traditional opening of the world-famous Christmas market in Nuremburg's historic center on Friday, Dec. 1.

A brightly-colored Giant Wheel is part of the Christmas market next to Berlin's Cathedral.

Spoilt for choice: Visitors to Munich's Christmas market try to decide which of the thousands of decorations are just right for their Christmas tree.

Stalls reflected in a Christmas tree bauble at the Memorial Church in Berlin. The market is extending its strech to New Year's Eve for the first time this year.

Cologne's historic cathedral forms the backdrop for its traditional yuletide market.

A seagull manages to pick up a treat at Hamburg's Christmas market.

Huge Lebküchen fascinate this Christmas shopper at Stuttgart's Christmas market. The market is one of the biggest in Germany

Marching to their doom: Julia Klingehoff herds her flock of geese from a meadow. The poultry are fattened in the fresh air before getting the Christmas chop.
2 posted on 12/07/2006 11:37:12 PM PST by wolf78
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To: wolf78

Thanks for posting this, ´t was surely lots of work.
I wonder/fear that the beard of "Santa" at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial Church in Berlin is real.

3 posted on 12/07/2006 11:40:58 PM PST by Michael81Dus
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To: wolf78

Thank you for posting these great pictures.

4 posted on 12/08/2006 12:00:32 AM PST by Peacekeeper357 (Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you Jesus Christ and the American Soldier.)
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To: wolf78

Thank you for the wonderful photos.
The market with the lovely handmade houses in Erfurt, sure didn't see anything like that when I was In Erfurt in 1983.
Glad to see how it has changed.

5 posted on 12/08/2006 12:44:14 AM PST by SoCalPol (We Need A Border Fence Now)
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To: wolf78
Such a beautiful place this time of year, thank you for sharing your pictures.

Should I ever get the opportunity to travel to Germany, I'll have to try for Christmas.
6 posted on 12/08/2006 12:50:06 AM PST by Dr.Zoidberg (Mohammedism - Bringing you only the best of the 6th century for fourteen hundred years.)
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To: SoCalPol
So, what have you done back in 1983 in Erfurt, and for which service? ;-)


7 posted on 12/08/2006 12:56:26 AM PST by Michael81Dus
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To: wolf78

Charming pictures, really beautiful. This is truly a Christmas Wonderland, and American event designers would do well to learn from this and replicate such festivals in smalls cities. They would be hugely successful, and from year to year, if managed properly (and kept within this design concept) would grow and grow each year.

Heck, the right town, over time, could make its yearly living with an event like this.

I have never heard of this before, and would love to check in on it from year to year.

Thank you very much for sharing.

8 posted on 12/08/2006 12:58:42 AM PST by Silly (Still being... Silly)
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To: Michael81Dus

*So, what have you done back in 1983 in Erfurt*

Was there and other towns in then East Germany for Luther's 500th anniversary with a tour.

9 posted on 12/08/2006 1:06:19 AM PST by SoCalPol (We Need A Border Fence Now)
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To: Silly

Yeah, these markets are such an attraction to tourists from all over Europe, and I´ve heard that towns in Britain already organize their own markets.

10 posted on 12/08/2006 1:07:32 AM PST by Michael81Dus
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To: SoCalPol

Ohh, ok. I really wondered what an American has done in Erfurt - because if ever, visitors from the West were only allowed to visit East Berlin and/or Leipzig (because of the Leipzig fair). I have been to Erfurt and Thuringia right after reunification as a kid, and it was so ugly. Now that I recall it, the whole 80´s were pretty ugly - compared to these days, of course. ;-)

11 posted on 12/08/2006 1:10:32 AM PST by Michael81Dus
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To: Michael81Dus

I remember seeing many Russian soldiers in some of the towns.

Besides Erfurt, I was in Eisenach, Eisleben, Wittenberg, Leipzig, Weimar and other areas in the East.
Was almost 2 weeks in many of the cities in West Germany.

Enjoyed the historical and beautiful areas in Germany.
Many of my ancestors were from Germany

12 posted on 12/08/2006 1:36:09 AM PST by SoCalPol (We Need A Border Fence Now)
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To: wolf78
Great pictures and thanks for posting them. They bring back lots of pleasant memories. I've been to several of these markets and was relieved to see they haven't changed all that much. Thanks again!

......and my daughter sends me packets of Gluhwein mix every year so I can make it here at home! It's wonderful with hot roasted chestnuts.
13 posted on 12/08/2006 2:39:07 AM PST by singfreedom ("Victory at all costs,.......for without victory there is no survival."--Churchill--that's "Winston")
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To: wolf78


14 posted on 12/08/2006 4:18:21 AM PST by amigatec (Carriers make wonderful diplomatic statements. Subs are for when diplomacy is over.)
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To: wolf78
Nice idea! Here are some pictures from Dortmund.

15 posted on 12/08/2006 4:58:22 AM PST by Schweinhund
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To: Michael81Dus
…if ever, visitors from the West were only allowed to visit East Berlin and/or Leipzig (because of the Leipzig fair).
That's not true, actually. I have been to several East German cities including Erfurt during a GDR tour back in highschool, also in the 1980s.
16 posted on 12/08/2006 6:49:07 AM PST by cartan
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To: cartan

How did you manage that? The restrictions were quite heavy for those who wanted to visit places other than the mentioned. Only special occassions such as a 500 year festivity for Luther or so could bring some tourists to the rest of the GDR.

17 posted on 12/08/2006 6:57:15 AM PST by Michael81Dus
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To: wolf78

Breathtaking! Thank you soooo much for posting these. I've always wanted to go to a German Christkindlmarkt and had really hoped to, someday, but that was in another life.

I had gathered materials for years to build some scale miniature booths for one and had written articles about it, but that dream was dashed 3 years ago when I lost my studio.

Thank you for letting me feel as if I have visited the many markets now and savored many of the goods I had labored over in 1:6 scale - lebkuchen, pyramids, pfeffernusse, gingerbread houses, tiny villages, creches - I even had a set of tiny nesting dolls like in the matruschka booth. Bless you for bringing these pictures to us! Merry Christmas! frohe Weihnachten!

18 posted on 12/08/2006 7:04:47 AM PST by Rte66
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To: Michael81Dus
How did you manage that?
I didn't—some teacher did ;-)

It was easier for group trips. You could also go on your own, but getting a visa was a very complicated process, similar to the Soviet Union.

19 posted on 12/08/2006 7:06:58 AM PST by cartan
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To: wolf78

Jolly good picture show! Thanks very much for posting this.

20 posted on 12/08/2006 8:32:56 AM PST by skraut
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