For you first-timers or others interested in German Christmas in general, here are some seasonal vocabulary words, as well as a list of Christmas Market food items with a brief description. I also included a brief guide of the best Christmas gifts to purchase in Germany…all conveniently available at Christmas Markets!
Tannenbaum: Christmas Tree
Christkindlmarkt: Christmas Market
Marktplatz: Market Square, generally happens to be around a Cathedral
Heis, Heisse: Hot
Christmas Market Food:
Glühwein: Hot Spiced Wine, available in Red or White Wine
Glühwein Schuss: Hot Spiced Wine with a shot of Rum added (Amaretto Rum Glühwein is so so good!)
Punsch: Non-Alcoholic Glühwein
Feuerzangenbowle: Glühwein with Sugar and Run dripped into it (Neat to watch being made!)
Eierpunsch: Similar to Eggnog with alcohol in it, served warm
Apfelwein: Apple Wine, served hot
Heisse Schokolade: Hot Chocolate
***All of the hot Christmas drinks come with a special Christmas mug. Each town has a different mug with a scene on it, the name of the town, and often the year printed on them. These are great to collect, but they add up fast! Each drink costs about 2Euro more than one might normally pay. This cost is a deposit on the mug. You can walk around drinking your hot drink, then either keep the mug or take it back to the vendor and get your deposit back. Clever marketing, right?***
Bier: Beer. This is Germany, after all. I am a fan of Hellas, a light lagger made in Germany.
Waffeln: Waffles, available with a variety of toppings. My favorite topping is simply powdered sugar. Nutella is a very popular topping for these…and for lots of other things!
Crepe: Available with a variety of toppings. My favorite is Zugar (Sugar). (You might try Nutella).
Kartoffelpuffer/Reibekuchen: Potato pancake (similar to a latke), served fried and hot!
Brotchen: Bread Roll
Bratwurst: This is not a hot dog. It isn’t. A Bratwurst is a sausage that is narrow and about a foot long. It is served with a small brotchen as a bun. Beware, sometimes Ketchup, Mayo, and Mustard are offered at an additional cost and Ketchup has a slightly different flavor than we are used to. It is more tangy.
Flammlachs: Smoked Salmon, watch them chop the wood, hang up the salmon, and light the fire!
Marzipan: Almond paste figures, made of sugar, honey, and almond meal are very common. Marzipan is available in all colors and all shapes. I have seen a lot of brightly colored fruit and vegetable shapes sold in sets in little fruit baskets, as well as cute animals and other figurines. Since Marzipan is just Almond Paste, it is used in several other foods. Examples are Chocolate-covered Marzipan or Marzipan Stollen.
Stollen: Bread with raisins and candied fruit in it. Often covered in powdered sugar.
Kandierte Nüsse: Candied Nuts, available in a plethora of flavors, many which involve alcohol. My favorite are Vanille (Vanilla), Amaretto, and Regular Sugar Roasted (Gebrannte) Almonds. Almonds (Mandeln) are the most popular nut that is used, but I have seen all kinds, including Roasted Chestnuts (Maronen)!
Chocolate (also a good gift), molded into several shapes. Anything from animals to tools may be made out of chocolate!
Schokofrüchte: chocolate covered fruit on a stick.
Küssen: Chocolate covered marshmallow…hard chocolate shell on the outside, creamy almost like whipped cream on the inside. These come in every flavor of chocolate you could think of! I am anxious to try the Amaretto küssen!
Weihnachtspyramide: Christmas Pyramid, each layer has a different Christmas scene, usually relating to the Nativity on it. There are candles around each layer, and the heat from the candles causes the fan at the top to spin. These giant ones are at most Christmas Markets, and smaller ones are available for purchase. Make sure when you buy the pyramid to also purchase the special candles!
Hand Carved Wooden Items-the selection ranges from signs to cars to swords to Nativity scenes. If you can find items that are made in the Black Forest, that is even better!
Blown Glass Handpainted Ornaments
Raeuchermännchen: Incense Smokers (Wooden figures, mainly men wearing traditional work clothing holding pipes, that have a place to put incense in the back. As the incense burns, the smoke goes up the figure and out its mouth, making the figure appear to be smoking. Make sure to browse the wide selection of incense when you purchase your Smoker!
Beeswax Candles: In all shapes, these honeycomb printed candles are handmade and always popular with the locals.
Anything from the Käthe Wohlfahrt Store: This company produces high quality ornaments, Christmas pyramids, Nativity scenes, Nutcrackers, and other Christmas items.
The cardinal rule about purchasing gifts in Germany is: Don’t buy anything that is made in China! Germans are very good about purchasing from local farmers, vendors, and craftsmen. This is why they are known for creating quality items-because their crafts (be it wood working, felting, or something else) are supported and preferred. If we continue buying local handcrafts from workshops and craftsmen themselves, this allows them to stay in business and continue producing quality items.
> As I take photos, I will add them to this post. If you have additional suggestions of things, please comment and let me know!