Fröhliche Weihnachten from the German Christmas Markets!

Fröhliche Weihnachten and grüß Gott! My name is Jessica Richardson, and I love Germany. My husband and I recently moved back to Germany in summer 2018. We had the pleasure to live here from 2004-2012, and we decided we wanted to come back with our 5-year-old daughter so she could experience what we did for so long.

Whenever people talk to me, the first question is, “What is your favorite thing to do in Europe?” Do you want to know? Well, here it is… traveling to the different Christmas markets. Christmas markets are a delight for all the senses!

Do you know what Fröhliche Weihnachten means? This is “Merry Christmas” in German and will appear lit up in towns and cities as advent approaches. Why you ask? Well, it is Christmas market season! (Well, this is how I refer to it!) There are a lot of great and wonderful things about Europe; however, Christmas markets are on my top list. If you have a chance to visit or live in Germany, this is a must.

A Christmas market usually starts the weekend of advent. Some will start a week early or only specific weekends. It is best to look up the city's tourism sites to find out dates and times. Many markets will have a Sunday that is closed—not all of them, though, which is why I stress looking up the information about the markets. Christmas Eve tends to be the big celebration date throughout the country, but a few markets are open for business.

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Christmas markets are absolutely amazing, simply put. The lights, laughter, and smells of the sweet treats will captivate your senses. Throughout the city center, vendors are set up with food, drinks, cookware, goods, gifts, and rides for kids. Throughout the market, you will find vendors with different drinks (alcohol and non-alcohol). Food of all sorts are sold! Do you remember the movie “Charlotte's web, and the rat was rolling away at the fair? Well this is how I feel after an afternoon/evening at a market.

My first stop is a vendor with Glühwein, a mulled wine sold for about 3 euro. However, there is a deposit on the cup, usually 3-5 euro. When you're finished with the beverage, you can return the cup to get the deposit back. A lot of people will keep their mug. Many cities will have the year, name, and more on the mug. We have a nice collection started already!

If you aren't a wine drinker, you can purchase another warm beverage called kinder punch. It's basically the kid's version of “Glühwein” without the alcohol.

Here are a few tips if you're bringing your military family to a Christmas market:

  1. Bring euro cash and coins for the restrooms, parking, goods, food/drinks, and more! Many vendors don't accept card.
  2. WEAR THE CORRECT SHOES AND CLOTHING!
  3. Check the website for opening dates and times.
  4. Plan accordingly for weather.
  5. Bring a canvas bag to carry goods. (This is something I forgot on the last adventure and I regret it!)

My favorite markets in Germany:

  1. Mannheim
  2. Heidelberg
  3. Wurzburg
  4. Lindau
  5. Nuremburg
  6. Ansbach
  7. Schweinfurt
  8. Rothenburg OBT
  9. Stuttgart
  10. Bad Kissengen

Some of the markets are bigger than others; however, each of them have something special about them. These are my top markets that I could go to over and over again—Munich is my favorite. I have a deep love for this country, and the Christmas market is the cherry on top!

Have you ever been to a Christmas market in Germany? Share your favorite memory in a comment!

''Posted by Jessica Richardson, NMFA Volunteer and military spouse, Ansbach, Germany

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