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“MERRY CHRISTMAS” hasn’t lost its meaning in a panoply of European languages and their various cities’ annual Christmas Markets. I’ve enjoyed these events in Copenhagen, Munich and Innsbruck. Researching one thing and another, I’ve also learned about Christmas Markets in other times and places, specifically Victorian and modern Portsmouth, England. I’ve found a list of must-visit European Christmas Markets (several of which I‘ve enjoyed). And, a few years ago, I remembered to bring along a camera to the WeihnachsMarkt in Stuttgart.
Typical of many Christmas Markets throughout Europe, Stuttgart’s WeinachsMarkt is a month-long affair held in the center of town. The city’s first Christmas Market was officially noted in 1692. This year between November 25 and December 23, it’s likely to attract more than 3.5 million visitors.
I was glad I wore comfortable walking shoes, because the market’s many attractions stretched along more than a mile of Stuttgart’s Stadtmitte. Giant Christmas trees were illuminated with a zillion lights.
Brightly lit shops sold everything from candles to lederhosen to marionettes to table cloths. Christmas ornaments of all kinds were in abundance. Some of these were traditional folk art; others were post-modern gimcrack.
Other stalls offered foods and refreshments of all sorts, confections, fondues, nuts, waffles. Tasty favorites of mine were among the world’s greatest french fries. In Stuttgart, they’re known by their original (and French) moniker, pommes frites.
Libations of all kinds were available. On that crisply cold night, the stalls selling Glühwein (hot mulled wine) had even more action than the Bierstands. Souvenir mugs were part of the fun.
Shops seemed to compete in which could provide the brightest illumination.
The Stuttgart Christmas Market FAQ cites total power consumption at 7500 kWh each day, and stresses that “all the stalls are supplied with green electricity provided by the city’s own power company” through nine miles of power cables.
The European tradition of living statues was in evidence throughout Stuttgart’s Christmas Market. Kids would giggle when an apparent bit of marble statuary winked at them. Photo ops were many.
Christmas cookie choices varied from the purely sentimental, “ich liebe Dich” (I love thee), to those reflecting the German affection for the American West.
Other shops sold gifts and souvenirs of all kinds. And there were plenty of kids’ rides, including a carousel, ferris wheel and steam train. However, to me a most moving aspect of Stuttgart’s WeihnachsMarkt was a life-size crèche encased in plexiglass to protect it from the weather (and, alas, defeating my efforts to get a clear photo).
The crèche’s plexiglass had a small opening, so kids could reach in and say hello to the baby Jesus. The kids, and their parents, understood the meaning of Christmas. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2015