Merry Christmas everyone! This Christmas was really special- although this was technically Brock’s second Christmas, it felt like a first since last year we were still living in a hotel and could not do any traditions or even have a tree! Brock was really excited about our tree this year and we played a little game where he would take all the ornaments off that he could reach and I would put them back on ;).
I have never been much into decorating, but we always put up a tree and set out our stockings. This year I finished a new stocking for me just in time to hang them all together. And we had one extra to hang since Fil’s sister would be spending Christmas with us :).
He is also old enough now to have fun with presents, and boy was there fun to be had! He got so many gifts from his Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and friends that we split the unwrapping and he opened everything that was not from Santa (obviously) on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning when he woke up he found that Santa had left him a play kitchen, bouncy horse, and lots of new toys.
In the week leading up to Christmas I think Brock would say there is nothing better than cookies, but after Christmas morning I think he changed his mind. He loves everything he got and does a good job playing with everything. It’s really cute to watch him move from toy to toy. Overall though his favorites were his fishing poles (two toy ones and one real one) and the kitchen. My favorite is his kitchen- hopefully it will keep him occupied while I am in the kitchen instead of our current situation of him needing to be in whatever I am doing. It was manufactured in our village and I made curtains and fabric boxes to store his foodstuffs.
This was also the first year Brock met Santa, and he did really great!
Since we missed it all last year, I had a personal goal of going to as many Christmas markets as possible. Starting on Black Friday and ending the day before Christmas Eve I made it to lucky number 7. At each market I made sure to get at least one mug of glüwein, a hot mulled wine that is synonymous with Christmas in Germany. This year I brought home 8 mugs to add to our collection. Some mugs seem more like hand-made ceramic, while others are glass or traditional coffee mugs, but smaller at only .2L. Two that we got were even shaped like Santa’s boot!
Each market was within 2 hours from our house so I didn’t go to any of the big ones like Nuremberg, Dresden or Berlin, but all made for nice little day trips. So here is my market ranking:
This was the one market we made it to last year, and once again was my favorite! It is advertised as having more than 90 stalls and out of all the markets we went to, it had the most non-food items for sale. I was able to buy lots of gifts to send home, all of which were hand made. It was a little crowded, but it was not as cold as last year and overall felt the most festive. A major plus is that it is only 40 minutes away.
I have been told by lots of people that Sankt Wendel is their favorite, and it did not disappoint. This one is also only 30 minutes away and better yet, only a 20 minute train ride. Brock and I took the train from our village to the market and had a blast. I think he was so excited by the train it wore him out so he slept through most of the market which made it more enjoyable for me to look at all the goodies in peace. The cool part of this market was that there was a traditional Christmas market, a display of puppet elves throughout the year, and a Middle Ages Christmas Market. There were live camels and reindeer and middle ages’ crafters practicing their crafts of metal working, basket weaving and horseshoeing. And of course street performers. I would say that this market was a bit larger than Trier, and a bit more spread out, but absolutely one not to miss.
This was the last market we made it to. It was quiet large and really beautiful. Aside from the decorated huts and Christmas Pyramid, this one also created an almost circus tent like feeling from above with lights rung out from a center pole. There was also a large wooden music box like display which Brock really liked. He also really liked the merry-go-round and was not a happy camper when we wouldn’t let him on. This was the first time we had been to Mainz since Rose Monday, and it felt like a completely different city even though we were in the exact same square.
This is another favorite for lots of Americans. The village itself, nestled below a castle and along the banks of the Moselle River is possibly the cutest, most stereotypical image of a German town we have seen yet. All the buildings were half timbered and simply beautiful. I will definitely be taking visitors here in the future! The market itself wasn’t much, but they had a really beautiful Christmas Pyramid and the world’s largest advent calendar. It was a building, and each window was decorated as a door for the calendar. On the night we went they launched fireworks off the bridge at 6:30 which was perfect for us. Brock LOVED the fireworks and was looking for more! It is completely black sky before 5 so having them at 6:30 was perfect- it was dark enough and we didn’t have to stay out too late since we had an hour and a half drive home.
Our village hosted a tiny market. It was meant as a time for the village to gather and enjoy each other’s company. It really makes you wonder why you don’t really see town or even neighborhoods in the states having gathering times. Inside the church was a gospel and pop concert that we watched for a bit but it was a packed house and getting late for Brock. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t anything to buy. I really had my heart set on getting an ornament or a mug or something Christmassy that was made by a crafter in our home village. I guess I will just have to make it to the village handi-work market next year.
This one was also SUPER tiny which really shocked me because it was advertised on websites that only list the really big markets. That being said it was not a waste to drive the hour and a half. We took a “train” more like a tractor, up the hill to the castle and walked through a live nativity play. The actors portrayed the traditional story in costume with live animals around the outside gates of the castle. Unfortunately the castle was not open, but the outside of it and the views were incredible.
Last on my list is Saarbrucken. I was excited about this one because I went by myself while Brock and Daddy had a play date with Fil’s friend and his son. The market itself was SUPER tiny but spread out. I kept walking because I could see more booths, but I am certain that if they lined the booths next to each other like the other markets instead of spacing them the whole market could have taken 1/8th of the space it did. It was disappointing because 99% of the booths were food, but I did get some flammkuchen to go with my glüwein which was yummy. Flammkuchen is kind of like a thin crust pizza with an herbed cream cheese, onions, bacon, and Gouda cheese on it. It is French, but the Germans have really adopted it. I did however buy a fresh bunch of mistletoe to hang at home <3.
Next year I will go to my top two again, but I also hope to make it to one of the big ones- probably Nuremberg. After all these markets, baking cookies, swim classes, and trips to the post office, I am happy to just relax and enjoy the New Year.