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Published: December 13th 2010
I've been to two Christmas markets this year, and both of them happen to be two of the most famous in Germany: Dresden and Nürnberg! Dresden is famous for it's "Stollen" which is a very traditional Christmas cake in Germany, and Nürnberg is very famous for their Lebkuchen, otherwise known as gingerbread. There's plenty of snow and cold weather in both locations, but with the festive markets and hot drinks you can forget about how cold it is and enjoy the season.
Besides being famous for Stollen, the Dresden Christmas market is also famous for having the biggest Weihnachtspyramide. These pyramids are a very traditional Christmas decoration in germany. They're hard to describe because we don't have anything like them in the states, but I have a picture below. These pyramids are built in tiers with wooden figures in the middle, and the heat of the candles turn the fan at the top of the pyramid. They're usually pretty small because they're pretty expensive. The huge pyramid at the Dresden market isn't actually lit by candles but it still looks beautiful lit up at night. It's also very interesting to see which kinds of things they sell at the market,
Dresden Christmas market
some friends from class in front of the icicle lights
and mostly everything is made by hand. They have everything at the market, including everything from mittens to ornaments to more random objects like brooms. Many of the stalls sell hand carved wooden figures, called Räuchermänner (which is translated as "smoking men"). Most of the figures have pipes and a hole carved around the mouth, and you burn incense inside of them which makes it look like they're smoking themselves. Another interesting tradition that I hadn't heard of before are dolls made out of plums, called Pflaumentoffel, I took a picture of these too. I wonder if these plum dolls are where our sugar plum fairy originally comes from? Of course there are the other expected things like nutcrackers and ornaments too. But those things really only make up half the market, the other half is all food and drinks. I couldn't imagine how many different hot drinks there were... Of course there's Glühwein, hot spiced wine, but there were all different kinds like raspberry and cherry Glühwein for example. Then they also have eggnog, Apple cider, hot chocolate, etc. Then for food, they sell the Christmas cake at basically every other stall, along with gingerbread, chocolate covered fruit, roasted
nuts, pretty much every kind of sweet snack you can think of, and then lots and of sausage.
The Nürnberg market is pretty far away from Dresden, so I met up with Johnny there and we stayed the weekend. The market had a lot of the same stuff as the Dresden market, but it was even bigger and there were tons and tons of people. We learned quickly that it was best to go earlier in the day because the crowds aren't quite as big. I found a lot of christmas presents to buy there, but decided to make use of our time and see lots of the other sights of Nürnberg too though. One of the most famous sights is the Lorenzkirche, my favorite church in Nürnberg with lots of stained glass and artwork. The Altstadt is pretty small, so we saw most of the sights by choosing a road and walking along and seeing what came up. We didn't go into a lot of the buildings, but we saw tons of stuff from the outside. For example, the very famous German artist Albrecht Dürer, lived in Nürnberg so we were able to see his house. We also
Räuchermänner and other wooden figures
saw the Kaiserburg Castle which is on the northern side of the town. At the top there was a great view of the whole city and we had the opportunity to take lots of pictures. Going back down, there's a river that runs through town, so there were lots of houses along the water and interesting bridges. I learned later that one of these was called the Executioner's Walkway, which I found pretty interesting. A description I read said it was built because the profession of being an executioner was considered "dishonorable" and therefore he was required to walk apart from the civilians. It was a very good weekend to get to see the city, we both decided that we can imagine it looks the most beautiful with snow. Looking back I might choose a different hostel... one with towels... but all in all it was a great trip 😊
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