In this post, student blogger Kym shares her experiences gathered on German christmas markets.
One of the incentives to participate in an international program such as our Master’s of Ecotoxicology is the cultural experience. While most people that visit Europe like to come in the Summer, there is a great cultural advantage to living here and experiencing the so-called off-season. Germany seems to celebrate everything, with various holidays and festivals popping up just about every month.
December is the month of the Weihnachtsmarkt and all over Germany towns and cities transform their city-centers into beautifully decorated winter wonderlands consisting of various stands and huts covered in green boughs and white lights. At the Weihnachtsmarkt you can wander through the stands selling christmas decorations and an assortment of goods destined to become presents, indulge in the German gastronomic specialties, or simply stand around with good friends and drink a Glühwein.
Here in Landau, our Weihnachtsmarkt is small but special. What sets it apart from the others I have seen are the two tents set up to sell artisanal goods, and the rides for the children. While I must admit, I have revelled in the enjoyment of a carousel ride (and forced some of my fellow students to do the same), for adults the artisan tents are much more interesting. Here you can browse the beautiful handcrafts of local artists and if you are lucky you might even be able to watch a few of them work.
We are also not too far from the european “Capital of Christmas” (a.k.a. Strasbourg). The Weihnachtsmarkt in Strasbourg sprawls throughout the city and extends into every nook, cranny, and open outdoor space. Businesses and homeowners also take great care to decorate the facades of their buildings so gleaming red christmas balls and shining wrapped boxes with bows jump out at you from every corner. There are so many stands set up with goods, it would take you more than one day to really look at them all, however, the majority of them sell commercial goods which you can often find elsewhere. The trick is to look for those stands selling unique or handmade crafts. The one drawback of my visit to Strasbourg was that it was on a weekend. While the christmas market is definitely something to see, I would recommend visiting on a weekday as the hoards of people frequenting the market on weekends makes it a little hard to see any of it.
My goal for this year is to visit the Heidelberg Weihnachtsmarkt as I have heard it is also a very beautiful one, but I will have to give you my opinion on it some other time.