Christmas is a really big deal in Germany. Like if I didn’t know any better, I would think that Germany invented Christmas. Because they are so good at it.
I think a lot of this expertise has to do with their obsession with booze and chocolate (see my posts about German grocery stores and the best German chocolate if you forgot how serious they are about their boozing and chocolating). There’s even a special drink made just for Christmas time called Glühwein. It sounds like “glue vine,” but does not taste like glue. Really it is mulled wine: heated red wine mixed with spices and served with love to keep you nice and warm out in the frozen tundra that is a German winter.
Germans are also Advent experts. You might be surprised to learn that their primary way of celebrating this holiday is with chocolate. Every year in mid-October, the government sends out an official decree requiring every grocery store in the land to clear out a minimum of 10% of their merchandise to make room for chocolate Advent calendars. And so they do.
The best part about German Christmas celebrations, though, is their Christmas markets. Last I heard, there are one billiondy of these markets in the whole country. In Munich alone there are 10 big markets and 40 million smaller ones. These markets have booths that sell all the delicious food and handcrafted wares of Germany that you never needed but always wanted. People swarm around the market and get mesmerized by the shiny lights and holy smells of sugared almonds. The whole experience is kind of like Oktoberfest, but minus the rides and the lederhosen and plus snow and Christmas.
So in honor of Germany’s Christmas market bonanza, I have decided to visit all of the ones in Munich. The first market I went to was the Wittelsbacherplatz one, which I visited on Saturday to partake in my friend Dirk’s Birthday Revelry.
The Wittelsbacherplatz Christmas market is medieval themed! That means that there were three booths selling animal furs, four with wooden nicknacks that I assume were the iPods of the middle ages, and one dedicated to accessories for your knight life. It also had a stage with people juggling bowling pins and fire sticks and what have you. And several costumed characters came out of the woodworks to show off their Viking, priest, or jester garb.
But the best part of this market was the food and drinks. There was a Knödel stand that specialized in every flavor of Knödel under the sun (I thought Knödel were only savory dumplings, but there is apparently also a whole world of dessert Knödel), and a drink stand that gave out beverages that were ON FIRE. I played it safe with my drink and just had mead, but other more daring people drank something called Thor’s Hammer. I assume partaking in this beverage immediately confirms your acceptance into Valhalla, because only the bravest of the brave dare to drink its potent brew. Drinking it also makes you dance on tables and rumble ominously like a Norse god of thunder.
Stay tuned for future volumes of Christmas Markets in Munich. Pretty soon there will probably be more volumes of it than Now That’s What I Call Music!.