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Christmas Markets, Big and Small

December 17 & 18, 2005


Dear Friends and Families,

This was our fourth Christmas season in Germany. It remains one of our favorite times of the year and perhaps the part we look forward to the most are the Christmas markets. Throughout the year, Germany holds a variety of street fairs. When we lived in Frankfurt, it seemed as if every other month saw sausage and kitsch booths sprang from the pavement of one square or another: Wine Festivals; Beer festivals; Carnival; football celebrations; canoe race weekend; Museum Night.; and so on. But Christmas Markets were the biggest and the best of the street fairs and we would try to sample three or four each year.

In 2005, we sampled a couple up north (see previous diaries) and a few down in our Bavarian neighborhood. The pictures below illustrate our visit to a very large one in Nuremberg and a very small one, literally in our back yard in Pommersfelden.


Nuremberg , December 17

The best Christmas gift one can have at the giant Nuremberg Christmas Market is a good parking place. Really. The city center absorbs about a zillion cars and, normally, we have a 15-minute walk from our car to the Market. This year, we had unprecedented luck and found a place not 50 feet from the market! It was going to be a good year, I could tell.

Every Market has a scene of Christ's humble birth. Nuremberg's display was indeed humble but at least one fairgoer was impressed.


But, as any Market veteran knows, German Christmas Markets are for eating and drinking. Hot spiced wine (gluewein) is offered on every corner of every Christmas Market and no visit is complete without a cup or two. After drink, comes food and this year we sampled calamari, not a traditional German fare, but tasty enough on this cold Winter day.


Fortunately, our wine and fish snack knocked the edge off the munchies so we could pass by the traditional mountain of Christmas candy and sweets.

We also passed on the ceramic villages. I have the feeling that these are created in order to allow new pieces to be bought each year, displayed for four weeks, and stored in cellars and attics throughout Germany. Wal-Mart would be proud of such commercial success.

There are hundreds of booths at the Nuremberg Christmas market. On a Saturday like our visit, there are thousands of people visiting those booths. The crowds can be either irritating or inherent to the Christmas spirit, take your pick. Of course, Nuremberg is also a nice place to visit any time. One required stop is the central fountain, where travelers have been rubbing the brass ring for luck for centuries. Horse-drawn Yellow Cabs are also a part of Nuremberg, at least in the Christmas season. They completed the festive air and we hope they stay around because we'll be back to Nuremberg in Spring, Summer, Fall and, of course, next Christmas.



Pommersfelden, December 18


Back home in Pommersfelden, the Christmas Market has a different scale. The street is filled with parked cars, just as they are in Nuremberg, but here there's just a single street.

Normally, we wouldn't even need outside parking since our little hotel provides us plenty of covered parking in the "hof" or courtyard in back.


Today, however, the hof was hosting the third or fourth annual Pommersfelden Christmas market. People came from as far away as Steppach and Sambach.

Our parking place was occupied by some freezing band members, playing all the traditional Christmas songs -- many of them made famous by Bing Crosby.


Being the new kids in town, we felt a little isolated, but we put in our showing. We bought a gluewein and some homemade goodies and listened to speeches. (We did not understand anything however.)

So, it's just a handful of booths and it's just one day, but the Pommersfelden Christmas Market is as special as any of the giant ones.


We look forward to next year's Markets, big and small. Come and join us!


John and Marianne

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