Monday, December 12, 2011

Made in Germany 38 - Christmas Market


The third weekend in Advent - which we just had - is the date for the Christmas market in Tübingen. From Friday afternoon to Sunday evening the narrow lanes in the ancient city center are full with booths, heavenly smells of wonderful food and drinks, Christmas music and happy faces. It is one of the events before Christmas that I was most looking forward to.

I wrote about the Tübingen Christmas market back in November 2010, and I will post this again today. I think it captures the mood perfectly:


And I remembered the third weekend in December back in Tübingen, Germany, where I spent twenty years of my life. It's a medieval university town with its typical old buildings that look like they're straight out of a fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. Narrow lanes wind among those houses and cars are not allowed within the city center. It's a huge pedestrian zone that makes wandering the old alleys so peaceful.

This is the setting for one of the most beautiful traditions of the town: the Christmas Market. It's nothing like its big siblings in Nürnberg, Stuttgart or München and so many other cities. First, it only takes place from Friday to Sunday and not weeks and weeks and weeks. Second, it's not commercial. There are tons of local artists who sell their work, school classes who raise funds for their annual end-of-the-year trip, small local environmental groups who fight for preservation, neighborhoods who try to raise awareness and money for the disabled - the list could go on and on.

So that's the eye-candy. The next is the food - just one word: delicious. The food is mainly local specialities, the best time to eat "Bubaspitzle mit Sauerkraut" (a thin rolled kind of potato pasta with sauerkraut and sometimes bacon), one of my fondest memories in the food department. There was a guy with a complicated portable special oven who made Swiss Raclette that was to die for. Of course there was Glühwein (mulled wine), very welcome in the cold. None of the food or the drink was allowed in any kind of plastic or paper container, everything had to be re-usable! So you bought a beautiful mug with the words "Tübinger Weihnachtsmarkt" written on it and this could be refilled at any booth that offered Glühwein or juice punch (I still have half a dozen of those mugs - each year has a different color). Most of the plates were eatable - envision big sturdy waffles for apple strudel! No trash!

Throughout the market you could listen to music. Children were singing, little choirs stood at the fountain in the market square, someone played the violin, another one the bagpipe, and again another one the flute. There was a cantata concert in the main church. There were jugglers and clowns. It was a very festive atmosphere.

We felt like community, we were community. People spending three days in the cold in order to help someone else. To serve others. To share stories. To entertain children and their stressed parents. To bring smiles on the cold faces, red cheeks from the mulled wine.

That third weekend in December, no matter whether the sun was shining, it was raining or snowing, was spent in the streets among those medieval buildings. It was freezing cold - always. But everyone was there. Community.

14 comments:

Lynn said...

Sounds lovely.

seabluelee said...

"We felt like community, we were community."
This was a very touching post. It sounds wonderful (and delicious). I wish we had a comparable tradition here.

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Oh this all sounds wonderful. When you think that most of our Christmas traditions come from Germany, it must be the most wonderful place to be during the holidays.

Julia Dunnit said...

Fab post Carola, brought back some teenage memories for me. I took my DD to Berlin about 3 years ago to experience a Christmas Market and it was a mistake....next time, back to a small town. How progressive Tubingen was with it's refillables and edibles!

Sally H said...

Sounds fabulous! We have had a German Christmas market in Nottingham for several years, but this year it is just a market. I went with my daughter this weekend and I really missed the German doughnuts and the nutcracker stalls.

Orsolina said...

Hi, Carola, danke für deinen Kommentar, es gab in der Tat Zimtsterne und Christstollen, letzetes allerdings nicht in der üblichen Art, sondern eher als Nugget-Form, aber nicht minder lecker. Und Schokokuchen...und Ananastarte...und....hmmmmmm.
...und viel Kerzenschein!!

Ich wünsche dir eine schöne Woche.

LG Biggi

Creatissimo said...

Hm, I will have to go to our old part of Ljubljana to take some pictures of the Xmas spirit over there. I like it a lot (the crafty part, not the food & drinks part) and I like the lights... It will be interesting to compare with your experience...

lisa said...

It sounds like a wonderful place Carola, and this photograph is beautiful!

Anyes said...

Beautiful memories of the one Christmas I spent in Germany, full of traditions and delicious food. Thank you Carola :-)

Sandy said...

I've never been to Germany but it sounds like a perfect place for Christmas and community. =)

Seraphina´s Phantasie said...

Oh, dann bist Du wohl gerade in Deutschland. Tübingen ist wunderschön und der Weihnachtsmarkt bestimmt auch. Dein Foto lädt gedanklich zum Schlendern ein.
Viele Grüße Synnöve

Chantal said...

almost every city in germany has them, I love the ambiance.

Marilyn said...

Beautiful night lights. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

Claudia said...

Hallo Carola,

ich schicke dir heute mal ganz liebe Weihnachtsgrüße aus Hannover.
Leider fällt der Weihnachtsmarkt hier im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes ins Wasser. Wir haben nur Regen und echtes Schmuddelwetter. Da wird einem so gar nicht warm ums Herz.
So richtig Spaß macht es doch nur bei Schnee und Kälte, nicht bei Nässe:-( Ich wünsche Dir eine schöne Weihnachtszeit.
Lieben Gruß
Claudia