Christmas Inspired by the German Christmas Markets
My brother and his family have been living in Bremen for a while. I really wanted to visit him and get to know the country. I have finally been able to go for a few days with my family and I feel fortunate to have been able to live an experience that seemed unique to me: Germany at Christmas. I have returned with my head full of ideas and things that I want to share with you.
If you are Christmas fans like me, you will understand what I mean. Since I was a child I have loved this time of year. Every year, when these dates approach, I have butterflies in my stomach and I feel an excitement that invades my whole body. It really is a wonderful feeling.
Well, in the German Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt), that feeling has been multiplied. You should have seen me strolling between the stalls with a permanent smile on my face and bright eyes full of emotion. Like a little girl! Although with a mulled wine in hand … 😉 The stalls of the illuminated markets, framed in the beautiful architecture of the squares of cities like Bremen, Hamburg or Oldenburg, have left their mark in my heart.
When we returned home, the time had come to decorate the house for the holidays and put up the Christmas tree, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how to take that excitement that I had lived in Germany and bring it to my home. So I have decided to be inspired by the experience to share with you some things that we can take from the German Christmas to make ours wonderful too, and that we enjoy it in the best possible way.
This is the fundamental factor. I think that decoration is one of the big things that really make a difference when it comes to feeling in a festive atmosphere.
In Germany everything was decorated: the houses, the markets, the city streets, the shop windows, the restaurants, the tables in a cafeteria had some detail and even the food had a Christmas touch.
Decorating every corner will make our home turn into a magical place and predispose us to enjoy the parties in a positive way and in a festive environment.
Observing through the German Christmas markets I was very interested in how carefully decorated everything was, and it was also very coherent: the use of wood, the lights decorating each stand, the green garlands, figures of Santa Claus, reindeer, The Nutcracker, elves, angels …
Here are a few decoration ideas that you can use:
- Put the Christmas tree
- Hang Christmas socks
- Decorate the furniture and walls with garlands and tinsel
- Paste vinyl stickers on the windows
- Decorate with pine and pineapple branches
- Paint pineapples in Christmas colors: white, gold, silver
- Use crystal ornaments
- Hang Christmas balls on the inside of the windows
Finally, as a decorative resource we must not forget: the lights.
Lights are what transform our decoration from common to magical. They are what brings the differentiating touch to our Christmas decoration. The lights provide warmth and make any space romantic. In the German markets there was Christmas lighting everywhere: in the streets, in the stalls, in the buildings … every little corner was illuminated and looked like a fantasy world.
There are many lighting options, you just have to go to a store and choose the ones you like best. But you don’t need to limit yourself to the typical light garland for the tree. Here are some slightly different lighting options that I saw in Germany:
- Paper stars turned into lamps, or hung and placed in front of the windows.
- Christmas houses with light. If you want to make them yourself, you can see a how-to in this other post.
- LED candle lights (this way we avoid risks, especially with children)
- Christmas figurines with lights inside
It caught my attention in Germany that there were many, many food stands in the Christmas markets. We could find french fries and the famous “suesskartoffel” which are sweet potato fries. They could be served with different options of sauces, including an onion and mushroom sauce, that was amazing!
We could also find a variety of sausages that were served with bread, kind of like a hot dog, but they were spiced sausages (if you want to try them, you can find some of them here). They were served with a round bread and not long hot dog bread like typical American hot dogs.
Another of the salty foods I tried that I loved was a kind of hamburger called “Kraüter Steak” with a pork steak, coleslaw, a delicious spiced sauce and bread.
As for the sweet foods, I could write a complete post with the amount of delicacies I saw. But today I’m going to share some of the things that caught my attention the most. One of those things were cookies. There were whole stalls dedicated exclusively to decorated cookies, with shapes and with Christmas texts. They were very beautiful and a good option as a detail for children!
Another of the typical sweets of Christmas markets is the fudge. There were also complete and large stalls dedicated to this delicious sweets and they had them of every flavor you can think of! I already knew about them, because my mother has been making it since my childhood. If you want I can share her recipe, which is even more delicious than the ones I tried in Germany. 🙂
Apples dipped in chocolate or caramel were also a recurring sweet at market stalls. Besides, the presentation was so beautiful, they looked like presents.
Then we could find stalls with all kinds of delicious pastries, such as Berliners or the “Schmalzkuchen”, a kind of fried dough with glass sugar that is very typical at Christmas. The rest of the candy I have no idea what they are called, but I assure you that it’s worth taking a risk and trying them!
We can take many ideas for our own Christmas celebrations at home. It is always a good idea to have an assortment of sweets to offer our guests at any time. There are recipes, such as fudge, which are fantastic to store in a box and will last us the entire Christmas season. I like to have several boxes with different homemade sweets and keep them in a visible place so that my family and friends can help themselves whenever they feel like it. It is an idea that I took from my American grandmother, who during the entire Christmas holidays had a table full of sweet bars, cookies and fudge available to anyone who visited. Now I can’t do it because my children are small and have no control, but I will resume the tradition when they grow up a little bit!
On the cold German nights, one of the things I liked most was the hot drinks. Two drinks in particular, “Glühwein” and “Lumumba”, which were served in a Christmas cup for which you paid a little extra as a deposit and then you could decide whether to return it and get the deposit back, or you could keep the cup. People collect them, since each stand and each market has a different design. I’ve brought 5 different ones back!
- “Glühwein” is a sweet flavored mulled wine that is served hot. You can find the recipe here.
- “Lumumba” is a hot chocolate drink with rum or brandy and served with whipped cream and cocoa powder on top.
Both drinks were delicious and taking into account the alcohol and the fact that they were hot beverages, they contributed greatly to enjoy the Christmas markets on the cold and rainy nights we lived. I can really say that they were part of the experience in a very positive way. And I think they can also contribute a lot to our celebrations with family and friends if we make them at home. I hope you like them!
Well, I think I’ve done a good summary of everything I saw. I hope you can take some of these ideas for your Christmas parties and celebrations. If you want you can leave me a comment and tell me if you liked these ideas and your traditional Christmas recipes. I would love to read them!