Christmas in Germany

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family, loved ones near and far!

This holiday season was filled with firsts for Jacob and I - our first Christmas as a married couple, and our first Christmas celebrated apart from our immediate families. While we certainly missed our families and friends, we feel very blessed to have spent the holidays with Jacob's Oma in such a beautiful place.

Jacob and I had long looked forward to our holidays in Germany. This Christmas was going to be unlike any other we had ever experienced: set in the idyllic countryside, where Christmas Eve service would take place in the village church packed out by neighbors who all knew each other by name. We left the church at dusk, with the church bells ringing and the villagers pouring out into the cold, calling "Frohe Weihnachten!".

It was a picture-book kind of Christmas. That or a Rosamunde Pilcher novel.

One of Germany's greatest Christmas assets is the Weihnachtsmarkt - the Christmas Market. Every mid size town contains at least one market, with the larger cities generally having at least four or five.

Every market follows the same pattern - amassed in a town square, little wooden cabins shelter vendors who sell crafts, decorations, knick-knack type presents, and food. For those of us who love food, the Weihnachtsmarkt is the place to be.

Pastries, candies, local specialties, potato pancakes, fish and chips, cheese fondue, all imaginable variation of German wurst (sausage), beer, mulled wine, and on and on.  We have been to many Christmas Markets during our time here, and have been privileged to sample a lot of the various foods offered. While it has all been good, I think I still have a strong preference for anything covered in melted cheese.

The most wondrous of the Christmas markets were undoubtedly in Cologne, a large city about 80 kilometers from our little village. Jacob, Oma, and I made a day trip to Cologne specifically for the markets. The largest market was held in the shadow of the famous Cologne Cathedral, a truly awesome sight to see.

Our favorite market, just a few streets away from the Cathedral, was entirely "gnome" themed. The houses were not just stalls for vendors, they were works of art. Made of beautiful carved wood, some of the structures were two stories, complete with upper level balconies and windows - all gnome sized, of course. It was a Christmas fairytale land; a land of milk and honey (ie: mulled wine and melted cheese).

Without any further ado, I present to you a photo essay of our German Christmas.

Christmas Market next to the Cologne Cathedral.

A shop for decorations in Bamberg. 

Making a stop to thaw and drink mulled wine. 

A bakery that looks like a real life Gingerbread House. 

The entrance to the Gnome Land market in Cologne.

One of the Gnome market's wooden houses. 

Stained glass in a church in Hachenburg.

Our little Christmas Tree.

Cochem town square getting dressed for Christmas

Store for all things Christmas magic in Bamberg. 

Roasted Chestnuts, courtesy of the Bamberg Weihnachtsmarkt.

Limburg, all dressed for Christmas. 

Half a meter of Weihnachtsmarkt wurst.  

A dog that looks like a mop. 

Mulled wine stand at the Koblenz market.