I hope you’re staying well in these crazy temperatures across the US! It may seem early to think about Christmas and winter, but we believe it’s never too soon to start planning for the European Christmas Markets. And trust us, the perfect way to explore them is on an enchanting River Cruise.
Sailing on Europe’s rivers during the early winter, exploring iconic cities filled with Christmas charm, and immersing yourself in diverse cultures and their cherished holiday traditions – it’s an extraordinary and magical experience.
There is such interesting history behind these beloved traditions. They date back to the 14th century and used to be called December Markets or Nicholas Markets. They were designed to kick off the Advent season, providing a gathering place for communities to celebrate and prepare for the holiday festivities. Over time, these markets became an integral part of the holiday season, serving as a focal point for community celebrations, gift shopping, and indulging in seasonal delicacies.
The markets are typically held in city squares, town centers, or near historic landmarks. When you step into a European Christmas market, you’ll find yourself immersed in a wonderland of wooden stalls adorned with twinkling lights, festive greenery, and exquisite ornaments. These charming stalls are filled with a treasure trove of delights, offering handmade crafts, winter clothing, toys, and culinary wonders.
Sites and Bites of the Christmas Markets
Non-shoppers (sometimes called husbands) will still find plenty to love about the markets. The irresistible aroma of gingerbread and the warmth of roasted chestnuts will pull you in. These mouthwatering delights and myriad sweet treats will delight your taste buds and transport you to a world of festive flavors. Carol singers, local choirs, and talented musicians will also serenade you. Some of the larger markets even have ice skating rinks and carousel rides.
It’s also a great time to visit the museums and other iconic sights, without the summer crowds.
A great way to warm up is with a cup of delicious mulled wine, also known as Glühwein. The process of making mulled wine involves gently simmering the wine with a combination of spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and citrus zest. These spices infuse the wine, filling it with their rich flavors and inviting scents. Additionally, sweeteners like sugar or honey are often added to balance the flavors and provide a touch of sweetness. Each Christmas market often has its own unique mug design. These mugs, often made of ceramic or glass, are specifically designed for the festivities. They are typically decorated with intricate patterns, festive motifs, and sometimes even the logo or emblem of the market itself. You pay a small deposit when you order your wine, and then you can return the mug and get your deposit back or keep the mug as a beautiful and memorable souvenir. Many people love collecting them.
Where to Visit Christmas Markets
Whether it’s the magnificent markets of Germany, the cozy villages of Austria, or the vibrant squares of Hungary, each destination promises an extraordinary experience.
By visiting these markets, you not only have the opportunity to find unique gifts and experience the local culture but also connect with centuries of tradition and soak up the joyous atmosphere that makes European Christmas markets so special.
We have two special opportunities for you to sail with us. I’ll tell you more about them in our next newsletter. If you’d like more information before then or if you are interested in a cruise at a different time, schedule a call with me or contact us for any other trip you’re thinking about.