Sunday, December 5, 2010
Christmas markets (weihnachsmaerkt) are common Christmas traditions in Germany. Around December 1st, a bunch of cute little huts that look like old style German houses were trucked into the town center and set up in the middle of the pedestrian streets. They sell all kinds of things, but the majority of them sell food. Gluehwein is the traditional drink of Christmastime here...it's a mull wine kind of like sangria with spices instead of fruit. People gather in groups and stand outside in the freezing cold and drink Gluehwein and eat bratwurst and lebkuchen (like gingerbread- so good!). There are also a few fair-type rides set up, and a huge talking moose head that sings Christmas carols in English and German.
Christmas spirit is very big here. Everyone seems cheery and excited and social for the whole month of December (except the ones that have had too much gluehwein).
They have santa claus here too, but he's not quite as big as in the states. They also have a special day for Saint Nicholas (December 6th), when kids put their boots outside their door the night before and wake up to find candy and surprises in them. This tradition is their version of our stocking tradition.
We really didn't expect it to snow in Bielefeld before Christmas, but we got lucky! We've actually had quite a lot of snow already, and it really intensifies the Christmas spirit, especially when you don't have to drive or shovel it!