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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Baden-Baden, Germany


When the Advent season opens, Christmas markets also crop up in nearly every German town, large or small. The town squares are lit up and buzzing with activity during this time. Townspeople gather together, listen to brass band music, and enjoy the hearty traditional fare of the region. Vendors peddle baked goods, including gingerbread hearts, sugar-roasted almonds, crepes, cookies, stollen, cotton candy and other sweets. Christmas tree decorations, seasonal items, and handcrafted articles are also sold.

Christmas markets date back to at least the 14th century and were one of the many markets held throughout the year. It was here that people bought everything they needed for the Christmas celebration: baking moulds, decorations, candles, and toys for the children. In fact, until well into the 20th century, the Weihnachstmärkte were the only place for people to buy such seasonal items.

Markets differ from place to place; each has its own regional imprint. The market at Aachen, for instance, is known for its gingerbread men. The regions around the mountain range are famous for their handmade wooden crafts. Augsburg has a life-sized Advent calendar and opens the holiday season with its famous "Angel Play." At the Frankfurt Christmas Market, visitors will find almond cookies. This year we went to Baden-Baden because it was open until the 27 of December.
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