A Christmas Crisis


I walk through the city, the sky darkening overhead. Ahead, bright lights call to me; whispered promises of laughter and joy. As I approach, the sweet smell of roasting nuts and freshly grilled sausages reaches my nose. I take a deep breath, savoring the scents in the air. My cheeks are turning red from cold evening air as I stroll casually through the street towards my destination. The lights from the stands lining the road bask the street in a warm glow, lighting up the treats and treasures on display. The atmosphere is ripe with holiday spirit as I make my way through the Christmas Market.

As you may have already guessed, my favorite part of the Holiday season has always been the Christmas Markets. I love being able to go out into Frankfurt and wander through the streets looking at all the treats and trinkets in the stands around me while enjoying a nice hot drink or catching a glimpse of the singing Moose head while eating a ½ meter Bratwurst. Even if it means bundling up in layers of winter wear, nothing will stop me from walking through the market. Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit like spending time at Christmas markets with my friends and family.

Christmas Markets started as a “Dezembermarkt” in Vienna back in 1296, as a way for villagers to stock up supplies for the winter. Wintermärkte (winter markets) began to spring up all over Europe. As time went on, these markets started selling toys and wood carvings that were often used as Christmas presents. The first real “Christmas Market” was accredited to Dresden in 1434. Today, during the lead up to Christmas, most towns of moderate size across the German-speaking world have a Christmas market, adding up to about 1,400 different markets. Some 85 million people visited German Christmas markets in 2012.

Christmas Markets are very popular for a reason. With their large variety of stands and activities, there really is something for everyone. Much like the older markets, modern markets are full of wood carving and other beautiful items that could be used as gifts. The markets have greatly expanded over the years to include stands with toys, hats, cookie cutters and a large variety of other trinkets. On top of all of that, there are extensive food and drink stands serving everything from Crepes to Bratwursts, Glühwein to Hot Chocolate, glazed nuts to lebkuchenherzen. Some Christmas markets, like the ones in Frankfurt and Wiesbanden, even have rides such as carousels, ferris wheels and little train rides for people to enjoy.

This holiday season is destined to be like none other before. With Covid-19 regulations still in place, many Christmas markets have been cancelled this year. While some Christmas Markets remain open with new restrictions, Christmas Markets are few and far between. Unfortunately, for many of us, there will be no enjoying Bratwursts or Glühwein in town with friends and family. This holiday season simply won’t be the same.

As the holiday season grows closer, there are still many fun activities you could do to get into the festive spirit. You could watch holiday movies, like my sister has been doing for the last couple weeks, or bake gingerbread as a family. You could decorate the house for the holidays, if you haven’t already, and listen to your favourite holiday songs on repeat. Maybe you could enjoy a hot drink while talking to your friends and family over Zoom, as I plan to do. This holiday season will be like none other before. We just have to think a little bit outside of the box and maybe it will finally start to look a lot like Christmas.