Being our first Christmas season living in Europe, we just had to see what all the fuss was about with these christmas markets! 5 weeks, 10 markets, and 4 countries later, we
wanted to share some of our experiences. Our Journey took us
from the small towns of the German Pfalz (Weilerbach, Otterburg, and Ramstein-Meisenbach, Sulzbachtal) to the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva (Montreax), to the historical old town of Mainz, to the center of bustling Luxembourg City, the American Military base at Ramstein, and finally to our city of Kaiserslautern.
It’s all in the name
Each market has it’s own name, and each name does in fact mean something (though I will not get into each one because that would just be boring for us all). From the traditional Weinachtsmarkt, to
the lesser known Hobbykunstlermarkt, Zimtwaffelnfest and Kulturmarkt, each type of market is a little different. There are also a christkindmarkt and adventsmarkts.
It pays to shop around
We were very surprised to see such a difference in pricing between the markets. Take your
traditional “German hand carved wooden tree”, and these can run as
little as 5 Euros and as much as 12. Laser cut, and very ornate, tree ornaments are as little as 1 Euro in the smaller markets off the beaten path, but can go for 2-3 euros in the cities. The quality is different between the markets also, with some ornaments having a few thin layers and others more solid that have more layers of wood. We also noticed that the bigger city markets, particularly the one in Kaiserslautern had “no touching”
signs. That sort of dampens the christmas mood when you cannot
pick up what you are thinking of buying.
The best part of the markets might certainly be the wide variety of food and drinks! Typical items include bratwursts, crepes, and warm drinks. Within the bratwurst category are countless types including the Nurnburg and Thuringen.
We are all excited for next year when we will have cracked the code and know where to shop first! Expect some excellent Christmas gifts this year and next…