Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany
Although I didn’t get to spend the entire holiday season with my family this year, the Christmas markets in Germany brought me some joy instead. Besides attending the one in my host town, Mannheim, I also went to the markets in Nuremberg, Cologne, Speyer, Stuttgart, and Heidelberg.
I think by far one of my favorite Christmas markets was Cologne. They had about eight different markets all with a different theme. There was the classic Christmas market at the Cathedral, the “home of the elves” in old town, and then a collection of modern crafts in the Stadtgarten. I’m glad I gave myself plenty of time because it took me about seven hours to make my way through all the markets. Considering it is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany, it did get pretty hard to squeeze through the crowds near the end of the night but I still loved all the variety and felt like I could find something for everyone. I did manage to almost complete my Christmas shopping by the end of it!
My other favorite market was Heidelberg. I met up with another friend from Germany who showed me the highlights around the Christmas market. After perusing the stands, I finally found a lichtstern to bring home with me (I had been looking everywhere for one). Additionally, we enjoyed the different glühwein flavors (one was called “Snowman” and had blueberry-flavored glühwein with rum and whipped cream) and also split a flammkuchen between the two of us. Flammkuchen is sort of like a flat crust pizza but even better. Besides enjoying all the food, we ran around the Christmas markets trying to find the perfect photo spot and got some last minute gifts too.
I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to my study abroad experience. The Christmas markets gave me a piece of German culture but also showed how a holiday I know and love can be celebrated around the world.