The 2011 German Christmas Markets are underway & so am I

Yes, Advent officially began about a week and a half ago. For someone who blogs about German Christmas markets, I guess I've been kind of slow out of the gate this year, although I suppose finishing my book--150 German Christmas Markets--counts for something. 2012 UPDATE; There is now a new edition of the book: The Ultimate Guide to the German Christmas Markets. In any event, in about 45 … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Guide to the German Christmas Markets: Where to Go and What to Buy

Here is the latest version of my e-book, which is now called The Ultimate Guide to the German Christmas Markets: Where to Go and What to Buy.  The original edition was entitled 150 German Christmas Markets: Where to Go and What to Buy  and it's still eminently usable--only the dates have changed for the most parts and some of websites may have different URLs. As best I can … [Read more...]

How to Choose a German Christmas Market

How to choose a German Christmas market? This question has been on my mind pretty much daily as I get deeper and deeper into researching my upcoming e-guide on the subject. I started with a long, ambitious list of cities, but I am slowly winnowing it down. I'm just not convinced that a lot of places are really stand-alone destinations for foreign travelers. Since basically … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Plauen Lace

So far, most of my German Christmas market shopping posts have focused on holiday-related items, but these frequently represent only a fraction of a manufacturer’s total output. Take lace: the majority produced is not at all season-specific, although lace featuring Christmas motifs also exists. Now lace isn’t particularly my thing, although I admire it when it’s good. As my life proceeds, I … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Miniatures

In the last post on nativity scenes, I mentioned that some people like to collect the various figures one by one. Frequently these are quite small, which reminded me of all the other adorable miniatures—people, animals, trees, etc.—that I always find myself admiring in Germany at Christmas. You can choose a single Santa, a grouping of choristers, or a pint-sized replica of a Christmas market … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Nativity Scenes

Nativity scenes: finally, a Christmas tradition that did not originate in Germany. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve in the year 1224, St. Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene outside of a cave near the town of Greccio. Real people dressed as Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and others from the Christmas story--as well as live animals--gathered around a manger containing a wax figure of … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Stars

Stars are everywhere in Germany during Advent. You see them in churches, in the streets, hanging in doorways and windows, and also in certain Christmas markets shining atop the tented roofs of the merchants’ stalls. And, at just about every market you visit, at least one of those stalls will specialize exclusively in stars. They come in a truly impressive range of colors and patterns and when they … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Pewter decorations

As I wrote in my very first blog post, I can think of no better introduction to German Christmas markets than my own at Munich's Christkindlmarkt in the Marienplatz. But just because I was swept away by the magical surroundings and the wonderful Christmas music, doesn’t mean I didn’t notice all the tempting items for sale in the merchants’ booths. My eye was drawn again and again to … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Schwibbögen (Candle Arches)

This coming Advent season when I return to Germany, I think my next acquisition at the Christmas markets will be a Schwibbogen, yet another marvel of craftsmanship from those talented Christmas elves in the Erzgebirge. Again, I can’t remember having seen any before the first trip and it was only this last time that I began to zero in on them and think, “Hmmmm, some of these are pretty nice.” … [Read more...]

Shopping the German Christmas Markets: Smokers (Räuchermänner)

One of the best parts of my first trip to Germany at Christmas was encountering so many different kinds of holiday merchandise for sale in the markets that I’d never seen before. Prominent on that list were smokers. Smokers, smoking men, or Räuchermänner are akin to nutcrackers in that both are colorful carved, wooden figures from the Erzegebirge. However, instead of cracking nuts, they burn … [Read more...]