These are free outdoor street markets that are in almost every German town square during the advent season. Vendors set up in stalls decorated for Christmas. There is usually a large Christmas tree trimmed and lit in the market place. The custom is common to Germany and parts of Austria and dates back to the 1300’s.
I had the opportunity to be in Germany for the first advent and toured the Christmas Markets in Moers, Düsseldorf, and Cologne.
In Moers, there was a stage with a band playing music, a skating rink, pony rides, and lots of Glühwein! This is one of my favorites! It is a warm spiced red wine, usually served with a shot of something sweet, like amaretto!
At Düsseldorf’s Christmas Market I had the best treat I’ve ever had in Germany, Flammkuchen! This is a wonderful comfort food! It is bread covered with Crème fraîche and bacon and then placed into a very hot brick oven. There is also a potato version, which I could not help but shove in my mouth!
As one would expect, there were bratwurst vendors as well! They use the original charcoal grills to get the best taste. There were hearty spicy Karkauer, original bratwurst, curry sausage, and roasted mushrooms with garlic dip. The brats are served on a delicious roll with optional mustard. I would highly recommend any mustard from Germany!
In Cologne, we tried many different sweats. They sold crepes with toppings like nutella, waffles with toppings, glazed almonds, roasted nuts and the Kartoffelpuffer with applesauce or sugar. Kartoffelpuffer is a fried potato pancake that is normally enjoyed with applesauce.
Another popular vendor is the Stollen Stall. Here you can buy Stollen, which is a bread-like cake made with citrus, nuts, marzipan, and covered in icing sugar. Stollen dates back to the 1400’s in Germany and is often given as a gift during the Christmas season. Germans even use a special knife called a Stollenmesser to cut and serve the Stollen.