European Christmas Markets & Other Holiday Experiences

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It wasn’t an accident that we planned to spend December in Eastern Europe. Cameron had told me all about Europe’s fabled holiday markets, but there’s nothing like experiencing them firsthand. Plus, it made the cold weather and short days more palatable. Our first peek occurred in Erfurt, Germany where they were just setting up an entire village of wooden huts decked out with holiday decor. As we moved through Bavaria, the holiday vibes grew. Griffin was delighted to experience our first snow in Nuremberg, Germany.

Europe’s Christmas markets date back to medieval times! Often the markets are set up in grand historic locations (e.g. main squares near grandiose cathedrals) and host a wide variety of vendors hawking homemade ornaments, decor and gifts, along with a variety of seasonable savory and sweet treats. The markets provide a chance for friends to gather and enjoy mulled wine and hot meals, and to purchase holiday gifts under sparkling fairy lights. We gorged on roasted chestnuts, apple fritters, gingerbread (Lebkuchen), candied nuts, Kaiserscharrm (a fluffy cut-up pancake) and pretzels in Germany; crepes, waffles and dumplings in Salzburg, Austria; potato pancakes, churros and fried sheep cheese in Bratislava, Slovakia; and lángos (deep-fried dough) and chimney cakes in Budapest, Hungary. Cam and I also loved the glühwein (mulled wine), but my nighttime work schedule limited my intake (probably a good thing)! Griff sipped on kinderpunsch (literally “kids’ punch”) while we admired the wooden toys and ornaments.

Other holiday highlights included skiing in Austria (Kirzsteinhorn), ice skating in Munich, learning how to make traditional cookies and apple strudel in Salzburg, and attending a holiday circus in Budapest. Merry Christmas to all!