Christmas lights are more effective when the sun sets at 4 o’clock in the afternoon rather than sometime after eight. Similarly when there’s snow outside a roast Christmas dinner is suddenly desirable rather than just traditional. Growing up in Australia we’re immersed in a set of transplanted European Christmas traditions that aren’t always appropriate in summer. Experiencing a winter Christmas for the first time you say to yourself “oh, so that’s why….”.
One downside of a winter Christmas is that there’s no Carols by Candlelight in the local park. Fortunately the German Christmas markets fulfil a similar role in bringing friends together outdoors. You don’t have to miss out on your sausage sandwich either. There are plenty of Bratwürste available, some even half a metre long. Other warming fried dishes include Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes with onion and bacon), Sauerkraut mit Haxenfleisch (pork), and Pilzpfanne (fried mushrooms spiced with paprika).
At the Christmas market in Leipzig there’s a Middle Ages themed area where the stall holders wear costume. Here you can drink warm mead (honey wine) as well as the more modern Glühwein (a warm spiced red wine). A specialty of this section of the market are Heurakaner, which are wholemeal pastries with fillings such as mince, sauerkraut and pork, or as pictured, chicken curry.
For dessert there are praline nuts, hot crepes with Nutella and waffles with cream, stewed apple or chocolate sauce. The waffles are best if they’re freshly made when you order them, like this one from the market in Dresden, which was served with chocolate nougat sauce.
If you aren’t hungry there are lots of stalls selling wooden decorations, some of which are handmade, and very beautiful. Most popular of all though is the Glühwein. There’s a deposit on the mug, so you don’t have to feel bad about the environmental impacts of a disposable cup while you’re drinking it. Ceramic mugs conduct the heat into your hands much better too, so that you can stay warm enough to spend time outdoors with your friends at Christmas.