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How I fell in love with Germany at Christmas

Roughly 25 years ago, I recall having a particularly evocative Advent calendar that depicted an idyllic, old-fashioned village all decked out for Christmas with festive shop windows and holiday shoppers. I had a friend visiting from out of town and when I asked her where she wanted to go that day she pointed at the calendar and said, “There.” I realized in that moment that I wanted to go “there” too, but I didn’t actually believe such a fantasy Christmas wonderland really existed. Very fortunately indeed, I was wrong.

Fast-forward 10 years or so during which time I became a travel writer. I’d learned along the way that Germany at Christmas was indeed something special. There were holiday markets everywhere, where people really seemed to be immersed in the spirit of the season. I saw photo after photo of bustling town squares with brightly lit stalls selling hand-crafted wooden Christmas ornaments, stuffed toys, sausages, gingerbread and freely flowing Glühwein. I knew there had to be wonderful music. It was the Christmas I’d always dreamed of and, apparently, it was real.

I’m happy to report that I have now managed to visit Germany during the Advent season five times in the past 12 years, most recently in December 2011. Since I am a travel writer as well as a traveler, my hope is to inspire other lovers of Christmas to go to Germany and discover its manifold delights for themselves.

Or, if a trip to Germany at Christmas isn’t on your travel calendar at the moment, you can still bring all the most heartwarming elements of a German Christmas right into your own home. In fact, you can start your shopping here.