Christmas

Christmas Markets: Bremen

Yesterday I spent the whole day sitting inside an airplane, with numb legs, an uncomfortable back and too many cups of coffee, but thank God this year I get to spend Christmas with my family again. The best part is that we’ll spend it in one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, but I will tell you about that some other day.

For now, it is only fair that I share with you the pictures of the second Christmas market I went to.

The Sögerstrasse is the street that takes you directly to the central square, during this season, walking through it is a joy.

I love the way Germans take their Christmas lights seriously and really put a lot of effort into their decorations. The lights, the trees, the ornaments and the whole atmosphere almost make me forget it’s cold outside.

It was five thirty in the afternoon, the sky was completely black, the square was full of lights and the multitudes were going from one stand to another. Because it’s Bremen, the Christmas market has more visitors than others. However, if you arrive early, you may just have a shot at buying something delicious without having people pushing you out of the way. It’s not that they mean it, but there are just so many that it’s kind of inevitable.

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This market surrounds the cathedral and is divided by the tramlines. The tram has to be extra careful during the Christmas market season, since there are little children, senior citizens and a lot of drunk people. Seriously, it’s like they go to drink all the punch in one night and by the end of their stay they can barely walk.

In every Christmas market there’s at least one or two amusement rides, all completely covered in lights or decorated with Christmas motifs. They’re usually full of children that go with their parents or grandparents, but, if you ask me, I think that it’s really brave of the owners to put such rides in a market full of drunk people.

I’ve never been in one of these amusement rides, mainly because I prefer to focus on the food. This time I bought a marshmallow-cream crêpe, which ended up being way too sweet for my taste.

In the Braunschweig post I told you that they sell a lot of Christmas-related objects in these markets, but in Bremen I realized that they also sell other stuff too.

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The stars are very common during the winter. You can see them in a lot of homes, hanging on the door, or by the window, or even in the middle of the living room.

I love the colored light strings. Those stands also have lights of every kind: strings, spheres, snow globes; to hang by the window or put on a shelf, or simply as a table centerpiece. They’re all wonderful.

One of the best stands I saw this year was the “Bird Village”. It was full of bird houses, in all sizes, shapes and colors:

There are stands that are so beautifully detailed that I would leave them there rest of the year. I’d just take down the lights and the Santa Claus.

But if there’s one rule here, is that you have to get yourself a hot beverage.

Did you know about the “Pfand” system in Germany? Before I came here, I had never heard about it. For those of you who don’t know it, it works like this: I buy a hot drink that costs €2.50, they serve it on a glass mug and ask me to pay €3.50 (sometimes even €4.50). As soon as I finish my drink, I give them back the mug and they give me back my extra euro. I have friends who collect these mugs, so once a year, they leave the extra euro and take the mug home.

That day we ordered Feuerzangenbowle, a wine punch with fruits, spices, orange juice and rum.

You prepare it in a glass or metal bowl suspended over a small burner that kinda makes it like a fondue set. You fill the bowl with hot red wine that already has the fruit and spices, and on top of it you put a metal grate that holds a Zuckerhut (“sugar hat”), which is a big cone made of sugar. You soak it with rum, set it on fire and see how it turns into caramel and drips into the wine. Fun, right?

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