Sunday, December 11, 2005

Favourite Christmas memories

One of my favourite memories of Christmas in Germany was our yearly trip to Nuernbeg. My grandparents lived there and since my Grandfather's birthday fell on the last weekend in November, we always used the opportunity after his celebration to visit the most famous Christmas market in Germany. The whole family got bundled up and took the nice walk to the market square.

Nuremberg's gorgeous and colossal Christkindlesmarkt draws more than 200,000 visitors from all over the world every year, making it Germany's undisputed Christmas capital. Fantastic decoration, the justly-famed local gingerbread and the historic surroundings of the large Frauenkirche church bring back the atmosphere of Christmas past. Smell the spices, see the candles and soak up the Yuletide mood!

The Nuremberg Christ Child - a local teenager chosen in the months before - heralds the beginning of the festive spectacle from the balcony on top of the Frauenkirche. From this point on, the market is filled with the smell of mulled wine and the sound of Christmas carols.

Beside the 185 candlelit stalls that cater for shoppers, the delicious Lebkuchen gingerbread and all sorts of Christmas crafts, the market also rings with choir concerts and small performances. The atmospheric highlight is the cavalcade of children walking with colourful lanterns to the castle (the symbol of Nuremberg).

The market remains close to visitors' hearts, to a large extent because the organisers have managed to ban funfairs, roller coasters and similar "modern" entertainment. Instead, people can immerse themselves in local tradition and buy items like the little figure made out of dried plums, the Zwetschgenmännele.

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