A few years ago our local bonsai group hosted a bonsai master from Germany, specifically Bavaria. He was an interesting guest in our home during his stay in Richmond, and we spent some fun hours learning not only about bonsai but also about Germany and its culture. He said if you think Oktoberfest sounds like fun and you like Christmas, you’ll love the German Christmas markets! WE LOVE CHRISTMAS, so Phillip and I decided then and there we had to go! In a couple of years we were off just after Thanksgiving. We had great anticipation, but no expectations. Our time in Germany proved to be one of the most enchanting trips we’ve taken to date.
The Christmas markets take place in many cities and towns throughout Germany and the region, and are essentially outdoor festivals and celebrations with Christmas as the central theme. Vendor stalls are packed with families selling every sort of traditional and regional Christmas novelty. The markets and festivals are filled with food and drink, plays, local lore, and musical accompaniment creating a truly magical scene. Many of our American seasonal traditions come from Germany, triggering vivid as well as subtle memories of my childhood Christmases.
We wound our way through wonderful, not to be missed sites along the path between towns and Christmas markets. Starting in Munich, or München as they call it, we soon headed south and up into the Alps. We climbed (by car) an adventurous mountain path to the small village of Füssen. That was our home for the next few days while we visited all the area had to offer.
Oberammergau is the mind’s eye, picture perfect Bavarian village and home of the once every decade “Passion Play,” a reenactment of the Easter story. Ludwig II’s creation of myths and legends, Neuschwanstein, is the knock your socks off, quintessential German fairytale castle, and the inspiration for much of Disney World’s iconic imagery. The town of Füssen had it’s own charm, and we happened upon a once a year appearance of the Christmas goblins. As we understood it, the town’s men appear in rustic garb, with switches, and are dirty with coal dust. They playfully chase and scare the children all in fun, to inspire goodness for Santa’s upcoming visit, all to disappear as quickly as they came. In my searches, I have not found information about this custom. If you know more about this, please comment.
We headed Nord to Augsburg, and then up the “romantic road” to the Christmas wonderlands of Rotenburg and Nuremberg. One side note- our experience on the Autobahn was awesome! In classic German style we were cruising up the highway in a very comfortable rented Mercedes. Our particular road had two lanes- one normal, and the left very fast- get out of the way– lane. There was no in-between. Pay attention, or you will be run over!
More German”berg” town in my next post…
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