December is one of the most colorful months in Europe. And we have Christmas Markets to “blame” for this. A Christmas Market is basically a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas. They most often open around the start of Advent (which in 2013 starts on December 1) and close sometimes between Christmas and New Year’s Day. There is a handful of them which open as early as mid-November and close after mid-January.
Christmas Markets originated in the Germanic world. Their history goes back to the Late Middle Ages. The oldest one is the market held in Vienna (from 1294), followed by Munich (1310) , Frankfurt (1393) and Dresden (1434).
In recent years, Christmas Markets have started to appear in other European cities. Budapest (Hungary) is home to a rather interesting one in Vorosmorty Square and you’ll be able to find Christmas markets in Prague (Czeck Rep. )- a very popular one -, Sibiu (Romania) or Bucharest (Romania).
It still beats me why I am so fascinated by Christmas Markets. Despite being born in early December, I am not a fan of cold at all and I would rather fly south for the winter. However, my family has decorated the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember and I am still keeping the very same tradition.
And I’ve always had a thing for the smell of cinnamon and gingerbread. Every time I smell cinnamon I am transported back to childhood, watching grandma – may God rest her soul – make gingerbread and eagerly awaiting to eat a fresh batch.
Maybe that’s why I always get ginger bread and mulled wine from the Christmas Market. In recent years, I also started to buy small decorations for the tree. They are a nice reminder of the markets I’ve visited.
As I am typing these words, I am less than 72 hours away from my train to Vienna. I’ll be spending my 33rd birthday in this lovely town. And of course, I plan to check out at least one of the Christmas Markets which take place here. Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square) is home to 150 stalls every winter, while the near by Christmas village on Maria-Theresien-Platz offers another 70 stalls to check out (and leave your money at).
On our way back home, we’ve got the Budapest Market in Vorosmorty Ter on our radar. We’ve already been twice (2011 and 2012), so why not make it a tradition?
Photos by Traveling Cricket and may not be used without permission.