Looking on my bookshelf until I spot the label Europe 2014; the tape is rolling inward at the edges as I realize how long it has been since I’ve studied in Germany. I take down the dusty, blue journal off of the shelf and open it to December 2nd, 2014. Reading over the entry written in purple ink, I remember all of the details of that weekend so vividly. As I read my words, I am transported back to the weekend class trip to Nuremberg, Germany.
The smells of Gluhwein, gingerbread, and candy fill my bedroom; I close my eyes and see the lights shining off of the ornaments that sway in the German wooden sale stands. I remember them illuminating around us like planets in the sky.
Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is known for being one of Germany’s oldest Christmas traditions. The first account of the tradition was written in 1628, that’s practically 400 years ago! The markets started off small in comparison to the size today. They welcomed, a place where the villagers could go during the dark, cold months of winter to feel warmth and love with friends and neighbors. Sadly, the tradition was not always as alive as it is today.
In the late 1900’s the event became the lesser of importance and in size; the market was dwindled down to only being a few venues in the streets. Luckily, in the 1930’s the market found its magical light once again and re-established its own tradition to the people of Germany. This rebirth is supposedly accredited to the Nazis’s who wanted to restore Nuremberg title of the ‘Treasure Chest of the German Reich’ and to create their own traditions of festive events.
Walking through the busy cobblestone streets, I am mesmerized by the glittering decorations of Christkindl and His angels, the sparkling glass ornaments, and the symphonies of pianos and beautiful singing. I watch the locals from afar as they stand around wooden circled tables, laughing with their families and drunkenly sipping on their warm cups of Gluhwein, traditional German mulled wine, filled with aromatic spices and served hot. The smells of cinnamon, pastries, and hot chocolate fill in the frigid air.
Each festive stand is run by the authentic, local Germans of the area who sell homemade decorations and traditional desserts and foods. I stare, jaw-dropped, and mouth watering at foods like, the famous “fruitcake”, Dresdner Stollen (the famous German pastry originating from Dresden, Germany; the dessert is shaped in a way that symbolizes Baby Jesus), and other foods such as, sausages and fried fish fillets.
Although, the entire market is furnished with German influence, the market is open to people from other countries to come in and sell their own traditional Christmas decorations. I remember being surrounded by stands from Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, France, and more of the European family. The Frenchmen sold Advent Calendars while the Czech men sold Trdelníks, traditional cakes made from rolled dough, wrapped around a stick, and topped with sugar and walnuts. I remember feeling nothing but bliss as I was surrounded by the entire world of Christmas.
Christmas is the holiday of love, warmth, joy, and family. Although, I didn’t have my family to sit around with our dining room table, and share presents with under the Christmas tree, I believe that I had something so much more. I had the experience to celebrate the holiday in a city that is world-renowned for the truest of Christmas traditions, and was surrounded by my family of different cultures, different language, and one love.