Storybook Christmas

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The alpine town of Mittenwald

Christmas in Bavaria is something straight out of a storybook. Majestic mountain peeks are blanketed in sparkling white snow, the countryside is peppered with little German hamlets draped in garland and decorated in twinkling lights, and even Munich, the big city, dons its holiday best that would even inspire Mr. Scrooge himself to feel the cheer.
This is the Christmas scene straight out of movies, postcards, and paintings of yesteryear. You can’t help but let the nostalgia whisk you away to another time, another place.

Perhaps what Germany is most famous for during this time of year is its Christmas markets. It seems you can drive just a few kilometers in any one direction and stumble upon a little wooden “village” nestled in the woods or right smack in the middle of town. Wherever you might find them, the Christmas market is an icon of German holiday culture. Local artisans set up shop in small wooden booths to sell their seasonal goods. From woven woolen hats to homemade jams to traditional wooden handicrafts, there’s something available for every taste.

And speaking of taste, there’s no shortage of seasonal goodies to snack on or sip while you shop. Feeling chilled? Try a piping hot mug of Gluwein, spiced mulled wine that goes down smooth to the last drop. But be warned! An extra shot of rum may warm you to the core, but a little goes a long way. If a snack is what you’re after, there’s nothing like a hearty German sausage to satisfy even the slightest appetite. Next, find a table, cradle your mug of Gluwein for extra warmth for your hands, and savor the scene. A true local from Munich proper browses the stands in her finest furs. She’s out to see and to be seen. A family dressed in traditional tracht; to see a man wearing lederhosen or a woman in her dirndl is to see a true Bavarian. Children, resembling the Michelin Man in their snowsuits, boots, and tasseled hats, frolic about to the yuletide tunes filling the air in the background.

Finishing off my second mug of Gluwein (no extra rum!), I consider the moment. I’ve been to these markets before, and each time it’s something special. The spirit of the season is alive here. Stress? Forgotten. My to-do list can wait another day. For now I’m a character in the Christmas storybook of yesteryear or that carefree ice skater on a frozen pond gliding across a classic winter scene painting. This is one of the few times when an idealized moment is exactly what I wished for. I celebrate with a third round of Gluwein, this time with just a splash of extra rum.

Me sipping Gluwein
What’s Germany without beer?

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