It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
With the Christmas tree decorated and in pride of place in the Hotel Concorde Berlin lobby, the festive season can now officially commence. For those of you who have never celebrated Christmas in Germany before, you’re in for a real treat! Every country does Christmas differently, so I’ve put together a little guide to help you celebrate Christmas in Germany like a pro, starting with some key words…
– Frohe Weihnachten! / Fröhliche Weihnachten! = Merry Christmas!
– Plätzchen = tasty mouth-sized biscuits baked by the hundred
– Lebkuchen = a kind of soft German ginger bread
– Stollen = a heavy, rich marzipan and fruit loaf
– Glühwein = mulled wine
– Nikolaustag = on the 6th of December, good children wake up to find the shoes they had cleaned the night before full of sweets and presents from St. Nikolaus. Bad children on the other hand, according to some sources are beaten with a sack of ashes by Knecht Ruprecht, St. Nicholas’ little helper.
– Tannenbaum = Christmas tree. Germany is credited with starting the tradition as we know it back in the 16th century.
– Geschenk = present. These are given in the evening of the 24th of December, not the morning of the 25th as in England, though, just to confuse things, the English royal family open their presents on the 24th.
– Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt = Christmas market. These originated during the Late Middle Ages in German-speaking region of Europe. Today, they are one of the biggest attractions for visitors from around the world.
There’s really nothing like a German Christmas market to help get you into the festive spirit (except, perhaps, for a video of Father Christmas stuck and hanging by his beard at a shopping centre in England) and Berlin really does have a Christmas market for everyone; whether traditional, hip, tacky, child-friendly, organic…
With over 50 Berlin Christmas markets to choose from, I’ve put together a list of my favourites to help point you in the right direction…
Auf dem Gendarmenmarkt
perhaps most Berlin’s most famous market, traditional, magnificent backdrop (concert house & 2 cathedrals), 1€ entry, entertainment programme (acrobats, firebreathers…)
traditional, horse-drawn carriages, State opera house backdrop
Opernpalais, Unter den Linden, Mitte
Vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg
traditional, palace backdrop, less touristy
Schloss Charlottenburg, Spandauer Damm, Charlottenburg
Winterwonderland am Potsdamer Platz
giant taboggan slope & iceskating rink, good for kids
Potsdamer Platz, Mitte
Holy Shit Christmas Shopping Lounge
Hip, live DJs, over 150 designers, only one weekend in Berlin (16th & 17th December)
Postbahnhof, Straße der Pariser Kommune 8, Friedrichshain
Berliner Umwelt- und Weihnachtsmarkt
small, fair trade/organic/animal friendly products, not too crowded, on the lovely Koppelplatz in Mitte which is also home to the “Verlassener Raum” memorial
Kultur-Winter-Markt in the Prinzessinnengärten
new this year, very small, at the unique Prinzessinnengärten urban farming project, all organic products, straw on floor, Christmas tree made from recycled bike parts, circus and performance
Prinzessinnengärten on Moritzplatz, Kreuzberg