There are nearly 60 Weihnachtsmarkte (Christmas Markets) in Berlin (according to VisitBerlin.de). I was told that if I did anything while I was in Berlin during Christmas time, it was to visit the markets. Kind of hard not to with so many scattered about town... I was able to catch about 4 or 5 of them before Christmas came and went, and it was such a nice way to take in the festivities while also taking in some important German culture (Christmas is a big deal over here). Being about a quarter German myself, it was interesting to see a piece of where my family comes from. I recognized a lot of the decorations and Christmas treats, as my Grandmother celebrates Christmas in a very German way...something I didn't piece together until this week.
While browsing the market stands, it is almost *required that you have a mug of Glühwein warming one hand. A candied, spiced, hot wine (usually spiked with amaretto/liquor or rum). A tasty drink, however I would almost vote for less sweet and more spice.
Most markets have a souvenir mug that you can buy along with the drink, which could lead to a very interesting collection...I only left with one (and it's not the one pictured).
There was a certain theme when it came to the food available at the markets, this guy making what looks to be a savory bread was a bit more unique than most. I didn't try the cheesy bread yumminess that he is preparing, but now I'm kinda wishing that I had...
What you do find a lot of at the markets are sweets! Cookies, candied nuts, candy apples, cotton candy, chocolate covered...everything, doughnuts, and sweet breads. (the list goes on)
These cookies (pictured below), I am told, are like 'little' love charms (with a message scrawled on the front; ex: "I love you"). They hang off of a ribbon, because the tradition is that your loved one will buy the cookie for you, and you can wear it as a necklace while shopping the markets (I'm guessing this is really popular with the teenagers).
The most unusual attraction/market that I came across was, Wintertraum or "Winter Dream" - which certainly lived up to its name...it was one part Christmas mixed with one part amusement park.
I couldn't imagine going on any of the rides, the wind chill factor alone would put a damper on the 'fun'. But it made for quite a spectacle on the East Berlin end, right off Alexanderplantz.
I hope everyone has a lovely holiday - however you celebrate it!
I've certainly had a very unique holiday experience here in Berlin, a Christmas memory I will not soon forget.