Germany does Christmas well. Annette has tried her best over the years to transplant to New Hampshire a few of the Christmas traditions she most cherishes, such as Advent singing, Glühwein, and real candles on our Christmas tree. But it’s not the same as being here.
During the last weekend of November, Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) sprang up all over Berlin. In the simplest cases, these markets consist of a few huts where one can purchase mulled wine and warm snacks, with tall round tables around which to gather in the evening chill. However, most of Berlin’s Weihnachtsmärkte are much more elaborate. I noticed in early December that the local newspapers were running reviews of the dozen or so largest Weihnächtsmarkte in the city, rating them as best for kids, most romantic, best shopping opportunities, etc.
We went to our first Weihnachtsmarkt of the season a few weeks ago. It was set up at the Gendarmenmarkt plaza, where one also finds the Berlin Konzerthaus, the French Cathedral, and the German Cathedral. Annette was put off by our having to pay a €1 entrance fee (“I’ve never had to pay to get into a Weihnachtsmarkt!”), but the cost of admission turned out to be well worthwhile. The numerous huts were attractively constructed and decorated, the food and drinks were good, and there were lovely handcrafts for sale. On a central stage, six musicians dressed as angels performed Christmas instrumentals on dulcimers and harps. Unfortunately, I neglected to bring my camera.
Several nights ago I set out with Rani and Mamta to document for this blog the Berlin Weihnachtsmarkt experience. We considered going to the market at Potsdamer Platz, where we had seen sledding on an impressive man-made slope, and the huts were set up to mimic an aprés ski experience, but instead we decided to head for the market at Alexanderplatz. What we found there was not what I had expected.