Dear Christmas markets: Until we meet again

Dear Christmas markets: Until we meet again

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Dear Christmas Markets, "Christkindlmärkte" and "Weihnachtsmärkte,"

It’s not you, it’s a pandemic. While we’ve all held out so much hope for a holly jolly market season, alas it’s not meant to be. For the past five years, I’ve loved everything about you. As Thanksgiving arrived, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would visit you again. However, as we embark on our final year in Europe, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit I’m heartbroken I won’t be able to partake in your festive merriment one more time.

I remember my mother-in-law excitedly telling me about your splendor, but I had no idea until I went to my very first one. We decided to visit Berlin over Thanksgiving and as we wandered through the city, we came across markets on seemingly every corner and every “Platz.” As we came upon Potsdammerplatz in the city center, the ethereal glow from the twinkling lights was mesmerizing. Spiced ginger and mulled wine wafted through the cold air. Rows and rows of wooden chalets were transformed into glimmering Alpine huts, office workers were crowded around the glühwein and hot chocolate vendors. The best part was the artificial snowy ice hill which seemed to magically appear in the middle of the market. How often can you say you went tubing in the heart of Berlin?

As we continued our tour in Germany, we checked off plenty of “Weihnachtsmärkte.” From the small modest one we’d visit after work in Kaiserslautern to the jam-packed “Altstadt” in Frankfurt, we basked in the glow of the starry lanterns hanging from the chalets while nibbling on a freshly grilled bratwurst and “Brotchen.” Although “Rot” glühwein isn’t my favorite beverage of choice (hot red wine doesn’t quite do it for me), white glühwein made from “Apfelwein” is definitely a winner. Our collection of mugs and glasses from your different locations soon overflowed their dedicated drawer.

When we left Germany for the U.K., we were curious to see how the holiday season would compare. While nothing quite compares to the German markets, the Winter Wonderland extravaganza in Hyde Park was pretty spectacular. My son convinced me to ride a roller coaster with five consecutive loops. Needless to say, I probably should have saved the hot chocolate for after rather than downing it right before. There was a section dedicated to the German market experience, which included all of the same trinkets and treats—minus the London-specific ornaments.

Last year, I was able to meet a good friend and visited your loveliness in Düsseldorf and Cologne. We aimlessly wandered beneath the towering cathedral and ducked into what has become my favorite market so far, the Heinzels Wintermärchen. Adorable house gnomes engaged in various shenanigans adorn the Alpine huts and everything is gnome themed. Even the souvenir glühwein mug was in the shape of a pot-bellied gnome and featured a different mischievous character. I was reminded of how special Christmas markets are and how they can totally amp up the season.

While I’m sad I won’t be able to have one final romp through your magical rows of festive goodness, I’m so grateful I’ve had the chance to discover how special you are over the past five years. I know many others are in the same position; however, I also know you’ll be back better than ever when the pandemic sorts itself out. I hope your traditions continue to invoke the same childlike wonder and seasonal spirit for years to come. Even If the assignment gods aren’t kind enough to bestow another European tour upon us, I promise I’ll be back to visit.

Seasonally yours,


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