The Christmas markets have been in full swing for three weeks now. With eight trips under my belt; one could say I've been taking full advantage of the season.
It amazes me how much time Germans spend out of doors. Weather is, absolutely, not a factor. I am outside all of the time; for long periods of time. It's the only way to absorb the culture...and fresh air. It could be 10 degrees Celsius and raining; and there will still be crowds perched outside coffee shops enjoying a beverage (and perhaps a cigarette) at a table. They may be under a blanket; but that just makes the dedication even more apparent.
Luckily, I've got plenty of outdoor clothing. It is of the greatest necessity to always carry with you a hat, gloves, scarf and an umbrella. It doesn't matter what month, day, or time of day it is; in Germany you must be prepared for it to be cold and/or rainy. Being the cold freak that I am; I also carry two sets of Hot Hands. Sometimes I need more than Glühwein to encourage my blood to continuously circulate.
With Christmas less than 10 days away I've definitely begun to hear the phrase, “You've seen one Christmas market, then you've seen them all. While in general I find this opinion a bit boring, I also found a Christmas market this Sunday to put that opinion to shame. (Try to stay with me here.) I attended a two-day Christmas market at Gut Wolfgangshof (an old farm estate, in Anwanden, hosted by the Schloss Hexenagger group. The website is www.winterzauberland.de You might want to bookmark it for next year.
This was not your typical Christmas market. Yes, they had Glühwein and Lebkuchen. Yes, they had chocolate and bratwurst. But they also had organic, farm raised, lamb sausage with a most fantastic paprika seasoning. (and I don't even like lamb) They had lots of vendors from farms with fresh eggs, meats, pelts, preserves, jams, and jellies....so much of the land's bounty. Yes, many vendors there were selling Christmas ornaments and candles. But the ornaments were hand carved and the candles hand-dipped beeswax. I am also in love with how the Germans have not let the simple traditions of craftsmanship fall to the wayside. There was even a blacksmith present. He was doing demonstrations, but also letting children practice as well. It was cool. Even better; there was a camel. You could ride it. I didn't. Kids did.
Since the market was on a farm estate, the barn was full of crafters and vendors too. I found many beauty products I would have loved to purchase.There was a guy selling lotion made from potatoes (cool) and I couldn't keep from tripping over millions of delicious smelling soaps. On the ground floor of the barn they had a exhibit of the traditional biscuit ornaments. The biscuits are hand made in molds, then baked, then painted. Here you could buy them and paint them yourself. I bought two, of course, but I brought them home to paint with my own paint. I'm going to give them to my neighbors and landlords as gifts. There were also many fabulous jewelers present at this market. My sights and senses were overwhelmed with all of the beautiful possibilities of jewelry. I always take jewelers' business cards in hopes of contacting them and asking them to make me incredible buttons. Here, in Germany, I think I'm going to have great luck with that. The jewelers I have met so far seem quite personable and interested in custom work. For instance, wouldn't it be awesome to have buttons from this artist?...www.erdwind.de...
So what did I buy? Nothing for myself; I must admit. I bought more fur for Florida Scarf. I met these awesome dudes, from Leipzig. They traveled quite far with their outstanding collection. They had so many interesting, beautiful, high quality pieces. I wanted to buy them all. I chose to purchase the softest rabbit pelt I could find; just one. I don't want to go overboard with any one style. Florida Scarf, in fur, has been a hit here in Europe though. Seeing how much time we are all spending outside; now I understand. Fur keeps you incredibly comfortable and warm.
I could ramble on about my enchanting Sunday afternoon, at the Magic Winter Market that was terribly gorgeous and enchanting, and cold, and rainy, and muddy; but you would get bored and fall asleep, and it would leave me no time to mention Saturday.
Saturday was another cold and rainy (typical) day in Germany. I rode the train to Nürnberg and went to the Winterkiosk (www.winterkiosk.de) at the Kunsthaus (Art House) across the street from the train station. It was three floors of handmade wares, repurposed clothing, vegan food, glühwein, recycling, books, and basically everything else for the modern hippie. It was fun; but with an extremely different flair than the market on Sunday. Saturday was fun, and funky. I am happy to report that I found some buttons for Flo Sca on Saturday. I am slowly building an army of supplies born and bred in Deutschland.
After the Winterkiosk I made another stop at the Nuremberg Christmas market. (I couldn't be in the city and not drop by) That place is crazy! On a Saturday. Crazy! In a good way. I really enjoy shopping once all of my normal Christmas shopping is over with. Like this weekend; the only people I bought things for were (technically me, but also for) Flo Sca customers...and I don't even know them yet. This means there is no pressure, and I get to hang on to the items for a while. I will use them (myself) to make the scarf with, then they will be purchased. It's like a double gift. Initially it makes me happy. Then, later, it makes another person happy.