Christmas in Europe (Part 2)

With a kid in school, squeezing in visits to the Christmas markets before they closed for the season was a challenge since we had to wait for winter break to start before traveling. The final day for most markets in Heidelberg, Germany was December 22. Guess what day we arrived in Germany? December 22.

Lucky for us, we were booked into a hotel overlooking the Necker River, on the edge of the old town, and had only a few blocks to walk in a soft rain to the Christmas markets. The markets are spread out through the old town, with several squares hosting the wooden stalls, but almost within shouting distance. As the evening darkened, the lights in the stalls shone brighter and were reflected as a warm sheen on the cobblestones. I loved how the Christmas markets are folded into the city, nestled against historic squares and settled below the watchful eye of Heidelberg Castle.

Christmas markets have been held in Germany for centuries and date back to the medieval era. I’m not sure what wares were on offer in those early days, but for us, we had our pick of wooden ornaments and creches, jewelry, hats and scarves and sweaters, and a plethora of sugary sweets.

We balanced wandering the markets with strolling the Hauptstraße, a pedestrian-only central shopping street, a street that dates back at least to the 14th century. Throughout the city there was lots of great window shopping!

The markets offer mulled wine (Gluvhein) and hot chocolate served in commemorative local mugs which you can take with you. (Ours still said 2021 on them!) I think it’s brilliant that you can stand in the cold, and clutch an actual mug filled with a warm beverage. We meant to eat snacks but were looking forward to a dinner of German food – schnitzel and kase spaetzle! – so opted to feast with our eyes instead.

The next evening, we continued our wanderings through the city centre, but most of the markets had closed. The Markplatz, which only the night before had been bursting with festively-lit booths and hundreds of people, was silent. Rain had fallen again and the nearly empty square glistened in the glow cast from the lit windows of the Church of the Holy Spirit and from oversized candles on a giant Advent wreath suspended over the square’s fountain. A cornerstone for the current chapel was laid in 1398, although records show a church in that location dates back to 1239. All those years passing and, yet, we could still stand at the same spot, and take a moment to savor the joy of the season.

2 thoughts

  1. What an enjoyable visit you must have had! The pics are terrific. Thanks for the glimpse for all the senses, as I could almost taste & smell the special treats, too.  Cindy


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