Everyone’s got their own versions of Christmas. Whether its wearing Christmas jumpers and watching Love actually or heading to church for midnight mass, there are always a few traditions that never get old. Growing up in Singapore, most of my Christmas’s were warm and spent surrounded by my large family on the 25th with a traditional roast turkey and then gambling with cards ( this is not a Singaporean tradition, but our family one). Whilst I loved those gatherings, they didn’t quite compare to the Christmas’s we occasionally had at our Grandparents'(Oma and Opa) in Germany. Being inside a warm house while its cold outside, drinking all types of home-made liquor. Eating my grandmother’s home made Christmas cookies (Weihnachtsgebäck) and listening to her talk about how long she slaved in the kitchen to make these and that if we bought them in stores they would cost 3euros for a small bag and not taste as heavenly.
FYI – My all time favourites are the Katzenpfötchen (cat paws) which you see on the bottom right – chocolate biscuits dressed dunked in white chocolate.
Now everyone has probably visited a German Christmas market, not necessarily in Germany. They are EVERYWHERE. While I like the Christmas markets in Birmingham and Manchester too, the markets in Germany retain the traditional feel. In Germany, almost every town and city has their own Christmas market and they open to mark the beginning of Advent. Whereas in the UK, many start in mid-november.
If you want to visit Germany’s prettiest medieval Christmas market, then you should head to the small city of Esslingen, not far from Stuttgart, within the old part of the city.
Here you enter the realm of the middle ages. Everyone is dressed up to fit their role, be it a leper on the streets, a swordsmith or a heroic knight:
Then of course there is my favourite part of the market; Glühwein and food. Most people think Bratwurst when they think about German food but there are many more typical dishes you can find at most markets in the Baden-Württemberg region:
Schupfnudel and Sauerkraut, Deie ( cross between Pizza and Flammkuchen) and to end it off- Germknödel (dumpling filled with plum sauce) with vanilla sauce.
While your out in Esslingen, you might as well catch the S-bahn (regional train) to Stuttgart centre where you will find the regions biggest Christmas market. This one is brighter and more glamourous and every year, each stall has a new installation on their roof to compete for the prize of best decorated stall. It is quite the sight to see once the sun sets and the lights take over.
After a long day out feeding the soul, we usually come back home to relax in the living room while drinking my grandmothers home made eggnog, bliss.
Christmas day wasn’t the only highlight for us as kids. In Germany, St.Nicholas is a large celebration on the 6th of December where Children leave their shoes by the front door and wake up to find chocolate and mandarine oranges inside them.
What is your favourite part of Christmas?