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Find Santa and your Christmas cheer at these markets
Their slower pace, friendly atmosphere and community fun is why I love to visit local Christmas Markets. It's exciting to explore artisan products, home made produce, eat lots of Christmas treats and mingle outdoors with the locals.
When I lived in Germany, Christmas was my favourite time of year. I had a small attic apartment in a four storey building. In the weeks before Christmas, sounds of hammering and tinkering drifted up through my open window as the Christmas Market was constructed in the town's shopping precinct below; where it would trade for several weeks. Most of the stalls were little quaint wooden huts with sturdy doors, for they were heated of course. Other stall holders braved the cold and had open stalls with their colourful wares displayed on large wooden benches and on the walls. There were many stalls devoted to Christmas decorations and the Nativity Scene.
Rainbow Pixies by Chachimoo's Enchanted Forest "large image
You had to wait until night time to experience the Christmas Markets at their most enchanting. As the sun quickly set, the market lights would flicker on illuminating the timber, honey-coloured walls in a warm glow. Around 5 - 6 pm when people knocked off work, they would huddle in their thick winter coats and hats around outdoor heaters, eat German street food and sip on fragrantly spiced mulled wine, spiced tea or the local brew. A bit like our Friday night drinks, except each night of the Christmas Market.
There were unique wares on offer and most of them were handmade. The sweet smell of freshly candied almonds filled the air and I would always buy the very moreish Munzen (bear claws) a type of biscuit, fried and dusted in icing sugar (the Rhineland variety) and of course Lebkuchen (gingerbread) of all sorts.
Here in Melbourne we have many Christmas Markets on offer that are reflective of the Spirit of Christmas. They also highlight the talents of artisans and craftspeople in the local community. There are many people making beautiful and authentically unique products. I'm sure you're bound to find something for the person who is 'hard to buy for'. Some markets include second hand stalls that provide affordable price points for children spending their pocket money. Some are modelled on the traditional European Christmas Market, others have a focus on ethical products or Steiner influenced. They are a great alternative to large bustling and busy shopping centres, which can get so hectic. On one occasion last year when I had to get some last minute things in the frenzied days before Christmas, I sent a request up to the Angels to help me get a car park, even they couldn't arrange one for me so I drove back home empty handed.
Santa often makes an appearance, have you got your list ready for him?
Follow the FaceBook Page links to learn more about each individual market. If you know of another great Christmas Market that isn't listed here, please provide details in the comments section at the end if the article.