The long wait is finally over!
Finally, I have made my very first visit and seeing a real German Christmas market–the Christkindlmarkt ! The great thing about being an Expat is exploring things like a tourist and enjoying it like locals do. I am so grateful that my Expat Life had brought me so much new cultures to learn and different stories to share with you. I am sure that you’ve heard about Germany being famous worldwide for its beautiful Christmas markets &meaningful traditions and now I know why…
This year is our first taste of Christmas in Germany and as I finally became a resident here, I wanna share with you my whole experience through Germany’s Weihnachten, after all, it’s my favorite time of the year,the Christmas season.
After almost 8 years of Christmas in Kuwait, where celebrating Christmas is confined into the insides of our flat, this year’s gonna be a whole lot different for me personally. I am seeing lots of new things, and various exciting things as we look forward for this holiday season. Even away from the Netherlands, my daughter is so ready to celebrate Sinterklaas version or the St. Nicholas Day (Der Nikolaustag) on Dec. 6. Again, for the first time as well, I have made our own Advent wreaths (Adventkranz) and pine wreaths which I decorated to hang in our doors. It’s so different to have a real wreaths made out of twigs and pines.Traditionally, German families gather around the wreath on each Advent Sunday to light the candle, sing Christmas carols and eat Christmas cookies. For me, I needed to pay extra attention when the candle is lit because I have a frenzy toddler who wants to play with the pines and ehmm..blow the candles.
Last Wednesday, November 23, at 5pm, the Christkindlmarkt in Ingolstadt opened with sparkling lights and putting up the giant 14- meters Christmas tree (Weihnachtsbaum) in front of the Town Hall (Rathausplatz) signalling the start of this year’s Frohe Festtages.The whole city center were transformed into a winter wonderland and I was really amazed by how efficient the local organizers have put up the whole set for the next 31 days. Everything looks like a page in a book of Winter Wonderland. The Christkindlmarkt here in Ingolstadt along with all other Christmarkets all over Germany lights up the city from November 23 up to 23rd of December 2016, some even lasts until 8th of January next year.
I was looking forward to see Ingolstädter Krippenweg. For me, it’s the highlight of celebrating Christmas as well as Filipinos observed the “Simbang Gabi“or the Night Mass observed for 9- nights from Dec. 16-24. I remembered having our Nativity set placed under our Christmas trees. This year, we have our hand- crafted Nativity set from Kenya, a gift from my parents in-law. But here in Germany, they have the city’s Trail of Nativity and there’s a special tour for tourists- the “ Kumm,geh ma Kripperl schaugn” for visitors who wants to see the unique ‘cribs’ that can be found here in Bavaria. I have seen 2 of them already and I look forward to see the largest nativity in the Spitalkirche on the next days. Ingolstadt is a home of famous “cribs”as early as 1594.
Stay tuned for my detailed post about the historical cribs in different periods and styles displayed in various places and churches spread in this old Bavarian city and of course, the Polish artist from Opole carving the wood cribs.
As shoppers flocked everyday in the busy city center,the shops along Ludwigstr. adorned their windows with colorful, festive and holiday displays which gives delights to all ages. The whole city is adorned with Christmas decorations . Everywhere I looked, I see decorated wreaths and cafes have become even more cozier with their winter lounges and warm decor. I felt like I am really in a different world. Along the streets, the little ones get crazy with the carousels (Kinderkarussell), trains (Kinder eisenbahn) and the Weihnachts Märchenweg. There are Story telling- booths with statues and moving puppets for famous fairy tale stories like “Der Frösch-Konig”, “Rapunzel“, Hänsel und Gretel”,”Rot-Käppchen”,”Schnee Wittchen” and many more. Such a fun way to engage the little ones!
Outside, I observed that most trees gradually lost their colored leaves, some are already bare, it seems to be getting colder from day-to-day and the hedges starts to freeze. I wonder when will the first snow fall here in Bavaria? Schokonikoläuse and gingerbread have long adorned the shelves of supermarkets, a clear sign, the year is drawing to a close. I can’t believe that 2016 will soon get over…another brand new year to come.
Also I noticed that Germans ( also Bavarians ) celebrates this holiday with style and lots of Uhmm.. sweets and threats, such as the Advenkalendar. While I was doing our grocery shopping, I noticed that there is a huge pile of these colorful boxes, some in edgy shapes, with Christmas stories and designs. The German Advenkalendar madness had begun. Germans surely have a way to spoil themselves ( and little ones!) with lots of chocolates even before the calories add up on Christmas dinners and parties! For the 3 visits we’ve made, my daughter was showered already with lots of Scholonikoläuse, bonbons, and sweets..for this I need to be tolerant. The Weihnachtsman inside the shops are so generous!
In addition to so many sweet and hearty treats, a lot of punch, mulled wine and Feuerzangenbowle, and the aroma of Glühwein (“glow wine”) are served. These drinks will warm you up even before you actually drink this German version of hot mulled wine.Germans really know how to keep the chill away.
Outside the confines of shops, this place is packed with so many great gift ideas in displays.We strolled inside the Christkindlmarkt and found many tempting food stalls. There’s the German rolls and brötchen with sausages and Bratwurst, grilled meats in buns, or with crispy pommes, the Stollen (Fruitcake) and lebkuckens even French crepes!
There are huge stall for decorative glass wares, candles made out of beeswax, toys, arts & crafts, Christmas decor to adorn the Weinachtsbaum (Christmas tree), yummy threats like Ginger breads , Lebkucken,Schaumküsse, and lots of tortes and chocolate bonbons! My favorite was the shop with all the hand painted Christmas balls. They all looked so beautiful!
The city was transformed into a scenic festive place as well the arcades of the old town hall, the Winterlounge opens again . An oasis of peace, where you can relax the day with a mulled wine or punch. This is also a perfect place to socialize and just enjoy a cozy night out with friends.
The fun continues when we saw another special thing about German Christmas market-the Ice Skating rink! The whole area of Paradeplatz were transformed into a beautiful “Eis Arena am Schloss”. Imagine skating in front of the beautiful Neues Schloss ( New Castle), for a true magical Ice skating experience. A 500- square meter ice surface is waiting for all ice skating enthusiasts and the adventurous ones. My toddler can’t keep her eyes from this place but she’s still too young to skate with all the big ones.
Beside the Herzogkasten,the Carraraplatz is transformed into a small handicraft space. On the four adventures, artists and artisans, in Christmas-decorated huts, offer their unique products. I realized that there are so many talented artists here and so many beautiful crafts! There is also the Kulturezeit,special treat for big and small ones. The tent moves from the Schlossinnenhof to the Herzogkasten. Story-tellers, artists and authors invite young and old to join in and listen.
What about you, how’s Christmas celebrated in your place? Have you ever tried Glühwein ?
So much already right? Germans really have a way to make every Weihnachten the best holiday time of the year and as an Expat, I can really say that “It’s not this time of Year without Christkindlmarkt”.
To think it’s only the first week,and I bet there’s more to come. I will share them all in my next posts so stay tuned for more about celebrating Christmas the German way.
This post is in response to this week’s Photo challenge |It’s Not This Time of Year Without…