Have you ever looked at the calendar a few days before Christmas and said, “How is Christmas just a few days away? I want to look at my Christmas tree for another few weeks. I feel like I never enjoyed the month of December!” I know I’ve said that some years. Well, this is my first Christmas being married to my skat, and we kicked off the Christmas season by visiting some Christmas markets in Lübeck and Hamburg, Germany. Since we’re currently living in Denmark, Germany is pretty close.
First we visited Lübeck, a city in northern Germany with a medieval feel and a cozy city center. Marking the western side of the city is the Holsten Gate. There’s an inscription on one side of the gate that reads, “concordia domi foris pax”, meaning “harmony within, peace without”.
Once you enter the city, there are several areas with Christmas markets that are all a close walk to one another. In addition, the city is illuminated everywhere you go. Beautiful!
Our next stop was Hamburg, a much larger city than Lübeck, but equally as cozy. If you haven’t been to a Christmas market before, it’s really something to experience. I kept saying to my husband, “This is SO HAPPY!” I even thought to myself a few times, “I feel like we’re in Europe. Wait, we are in Europe.” These weren’t pretend villages made to look like European cities adorned with lights. These were real European cities! Check out these markets right in front of Hamburg’s Town Hall.
The lights are especially lovely to look at once it’s dark outside. Here are the markets in front of Hamburg’s Town Hall in the evening.
What is a Christmas market, anyway? I had no idea prior to going to one. It’s an area or several areas of charming wooden booths, decorated with garland and lights that might just be the most festive thing I’ve ever seen. This all takes place outside, so you have to bundle up. Hats, scarves, coats, gloves, and boots are all a good idea. If you’re bundled up and are still cold, you can get some glühwein to warm you up. Glühwein is a warm red wine made with mulling spices and a shot of rum or vodka if you like. Rum, please!
In addition, the booths offer all kinds of things from delicious traditional German foods to Christmas merchandise like ornaments, beeswax candles, handmade wooden bowls/spoons, scarves, and hats with mega pom poms on top. I thought about getting a hat, but my skat thought it made me look like a Who from Whoville. In the background there’s seasonal music piped through some speakers. The only songs I recognized were by George Michael and New Kids on the Block. Might I suggest the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack as a better option? Otherwise, I’ll need 2 shots of rum in my glühwein.
Everywhere I looked there were people huddled sharing food and drinks. There were girlfriends in groups, guy friends in groups, teenagers in groups, couples, and even some families with their kids. Groups of all kinds! The glühwein-filled mugs and the seemingly endless supply of frosting covered gingerbread cookies were awesome. But what really stood out to me was that people were together – just very content to be standing there in the cold, huddled up and having some treats. That’s what seemed to matter. So hyggelig (pronounced ’hoo-guh-lee’)!
We arrived at the Christmas Market in Lübeck on Thanksgiving Day. Standing and huddling over a little wooden table, we shared a nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner consisting of a bratwurst for me (minus the bun!), a currywurst (chopped up pork sausage with a sweet red sauce and curry powder) for my skat, and glühwein.
I also took small tastes of a few other things that were delicious. The tastes were small since I can’t have gluten, dairy, or corn and I wasn’t sure what was in them, exactly. But my taste buds got just enough so I can create versions that I’m able to eat that will taste even better. It can be done and I’m working hard on it. Stay tuned for those recipes! I can’t wait to share them.
I hope you’re all finding time to enjoy the Christmas season. What will you be doing to kick things off?