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Christmas Markets

Christmas Market is a regular feature in any European City worth its salt! Called Marché de Noël in French, the earliest Christmas Market in France dates back to 1570 from Strasbourg. This comes as no surprise considering that the origins of such markets can be traced back to Germany from the middle ages.


Chritmas Market


The tradition started from Germany- Alsace (French region bordering Germany to the East). The earliest record of Christmas Market is from Dresden dating back to 1434. However, there are older markets that existed in Vienna as far back as 13th Century.These markets were usually held to celebrate the festive spirit of abundance. With the brew of new wine ready to be opened & fresh unsalted meat available around Christmas time, the festivals would be celebrated with a shared gaiety and joy.


Christmas Markets are usually held a few weeks in advance of the 'advent'. For the non-initiated, 'advent' is originally from Latin word 'adventus' which meant 'arrived'. Advent is thus regarded as the period of waiting for this arrival, starting around four Sundays before Christmas till Christmas Eve.


Nativity Scene
 The tradition has it that the Christians would light one candle on the first Sunday of Advent. Increasing the number of candles, with each successive Sunday till Christmas, to signify the increasing light that comes to warm the heart with the arrival of Christ on Christmas eve. This also gave rise to the notion behind the advent calendars popular with the children. Children like to 'discover' the surprise in store on this 'boxed' calendar for each day in the weeks preceding Christmas. The last surprise is 'discovered' on the Christmas eve.


While that is an honourable sentiment indeed, coming from a warm country like India, I need a bit more than candle light to thaw the European northern chill. Luckily, a typical Christmas market is also a place one can enjoy hot, mulled wine. Called Glühwine, this is a super agreeable concoction of red wine mulled with spices, served hot. Priced around one or two Euro, it is an irresistible offer to keep going back for more. However, one can prepare Glühwine at home. Follow my recipe.

In addition to this alcholic specialty, christmas markets are a warm, convivial place to enjoy regional culinary flavours as well. Then there are sellers vending handicraft items, accessories for the nativity scene, christmas trees, chocolates, christmas decorations and small gifts. In all, there is something for everyone.
 La Maison de Heidi


Now a days, these markets are usually organised by the municipalities of different cities. In Paris, Christmas markets of Montparnasse* and La Défense** area are quite popular. This year, for the first time, there is a Christmas market at the Round point of Champs-Elysees*** , spread right up to Place de la Concorde****. Enjoy traditional Christmas fare, gastronomic specialties and handicraft items.


Held outdoors in wooden chalet-like stalls with festive decorations, these are great places to enjoy and indulge in the spirit of the festival with kindred folks.


Practical Information:


*Montparnasse can be reached by Metro (Station: Montparnasse Bienvenue on Line 4, 6, 12, 13) or by Bus (Bus stop: Place du 18 Juin by bus no. 28, 58, 82, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96)

**La Défense can be reached by Metro (Station: La Défense/ Grande Arche on Line 1) or by Bus (Bus stop: La Défense-metro-RER-tramway by bus no. 73, 144, 258, 262, 276)

***Champs- Elysées can be reached by Metro (Station: Franklin D. Roosevelt on Line 1, 9)

****Concorde can be reached by Metro (Station: Concorde on Line 1, 8, 12) or by Bus (Bus stop: Concorde- Cous la Reine by bus no. 42 or 73)


You might also like to read:

Christmas in Paris

Christmas in a Parisian School 

Recipe for Gluhwine

An eco-friendly Christmas

Christmas/ New Year's Eve Parties in Paris in 2008

A Chocolaty Christmas Tree