Things have been busy around here lately, but somehow we have managed to visit two Christmas markets. Christmas markets are completely new to me as an American and as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I was really excited to go, though, precisely for those reasons. It is a genuinely German experience even though both of the markets I’m about to write about have nordic themes.
Our first trip was to the Finnish Market at the Finnland Zentrum in Kreuzberg. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, because it was packed. Not just packed, PACKED. We had just enough room to breath, and I had to hold the baby the entire time less she disappear in the sea of people. Like most Weihnachtsmärkte, there were lots of handicrafts and, being a finnish market, a Merrimekko and iitala booth. I was tempted, so tempted, but I couldn’t risk putting Shoshana down. Even for this. We left when people started shoving each other to get to the elk burgers. I kid you not.
We had another chance at a nordic christmas at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg. I was surprised at how empty it was, maybe it was just an off day? There were a few generic christmas stalls. The focused seemed to be more on swedish food, which was perfect for us, because we’d really wanted to try elk after seeing the excitement it inspired at the other market. How good it be? and if I eat it can I still make fun of Sarah Palin? It was actually really good, like very-light beef. Shoshana liked it, too.
But the strangest thing at the Lucia market were these warming stations set up to keep people around in the cold.
The radiators keep the coats toasty warm, so if your Glög isn’t doing enough for you, you can try one on for a while before heading back for more. My american need for extreme cleanliness was a little grossed out. I never saw anyone using them, but it was also an unseasonably warm day.
Neither of my first two market experiences felt particularly christmas’y, but it could be my complete unfamiliarity with christmas meant I wasn’t able to recognize the signs. Holiday or not, the Weihnachtsmärkte are a fun, festive way to spend the day.
Now if only I could find some Chanukah wrapping paper…