This year, as a birthday present to myself, I booked a trip to Vienna. As the time drew near I researched places to visit. The child in me was happy to discover that I’d also get a taste of Christmas in Vienna as the markets were already open during my visit.
Christmas, in the eyes of a child, can be a wonderland of lights, glitter and sweets, a treasure trove of happy memories to last a lifetime. I was fortunate to grow up near Nüremberg, Germany, site of the most famous of Kristkindlmarkts (Christmas markets) in the world. Nowadays, when the Advent season draws near, I recall my own happy memories of counting down to Christmas.
24 days lead up to Christmas eve, Germany’s main day for opening presents. For me, anticipation built as each day I’d open a window on my Advent calendar. At first the calendar had small Christmas scenes painted behind each window. Imagine my joy as, in the 1960s, I discovered that calendars had evolved to hold a small piece of chocolate –what a daily delight.
Each Sunday afternoon in December, Mom lit a red candle on the Advent wreath that graced our coffee-table. On Christmas Eve she turned off the lights letting all four candles flicker and blaze while Stille Nacht (Silent Night) played in the background.
One of the best treats came In the final days leading up to Christmas Eve–an evening trip to the snow-covered market (in those days snow in December was a guarantee) to buy a “3 im Weggle” (Bratwurst sandwich), sip some Weihnachtspunsch or Glühwein and buy a Zwetschkenmännle (Prune man)
Vienna failed to deliver the snow this year but cold days called for lots of doses of hot chocolate and Kaiserschmarrn with plum sauce and apple strudel and Sacher Torte. These, as well as glitter, lights, the sounds of children’s laughter and Christmas music more than made up for the absence of the white powdery stuff.
I invite you to come along and experience Vienna at Christmastime.