I’m talking about Christmas Markets. In Europe around Christmas the streets come alive in the evening with brightly lit markets and stalls squatting out in the cold, snowy streets.
The light fades early here, around 4pm and the temperature drops as soon as the sun disappears, but in European towns and villages, the locals rug up and head out for a night of festivities and celebrations.
Our local Christmas Market was gorgeous. They strung up lights in the trees and we strolled from store to store, greeting people we knew and pausing from time to time at fires to warm ourselves. The traditional drink is Glumost, or Gluwein which is basically hot cider or red wine, with spices. Not only is it delicious, but it warms you up from the inside. It’s sticky and hot and goes perfectly with the freshly roasted chestnuts which are in abundance at that time of year.
We also took a trip up to the highest Christmas Market in Europe, which is only about a 20 minute drive away. Thomas had warned me that it would be cold so I’d literally worn every warm article of clothing I owned, including a purpose bought jacket, beanie and fur-lined boots.
We took a gondola up and when we arrived… it was really cold. Not just cold, but really cold. I had to tuck my hands down my top for a while to get the feeling back in my fingers while we were waiting for our first hot cider, though I couldn’t get the drinks down fast enough to keep really warm. There was a live band and everyone was rugged up, dancing and chatting and drinking. It was heaps of fun but it wasn’t long before the cold started probing through our clothes and we pulled the pin in favour of a warm meal somewhere indoors.
But if you’re in Europe in winter, it’s a definite must… strolling the streets, the stalls, the Christmas cookies, the festive atmosphere… and the cold really add something special… it just wouldn’t be the same without it.