The adventures of a born-and-raised-in-Michigan girl (OK, woman) who's moved to Bavaria with her husband, kids, and dog.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas 2006, Unwrapped

The remainder of December was pretty busy with Christmasy events... Martin took some vacation time to unwind and we took advantage of the time to hit some Christmas Markets which are in every major and minor town around here, starting the first weekend of Advent and running through Dec. 23rd or 24th.

But before we get to that, let me tell you about our visit from Santa Claus! Our English playgroup meets every Tuesday afternoon, and on the 12th, we held our little Christmas party... and Santa (played by Martin, actually, since he has the build for it and was on vacation) dropped by with gifts and "naughty/nice" comments for each kid. Stephanie wouldn't leave my lap so I don't have a good picture of her with Santa, but here's a great one of Santa and Nicholas:

Of course, we went to the Ingolstadt Christmas Market -- for Nicholas, the best part about Christmas Markets is the search for cookies and the carousel rides. This year Ingolstadt added a second "historic romantic" market at the castle (at the eastern end of the pedestrian zone) in addition to the original market at the Theaterplatz. Here's Nicholas on the carousel:

Nicholas spied St. Nikolaus from the carousel and was very excited, so of course as soon as the ride stopped, we made our way over to him to receive a little treat. We also saw St. Nikolaus -- and a complete entourage of "scary guys" (our name for the Black Peter/Knecht Ruprecht character) -- at the Christmas Market in Hexenagger, about 30 minutes from us. That St. Nikolaus knew a bit about marketing; the treat bag included a slip of paper with the group's web site.

The Hexenagger market was gorgeous, held on the castle grounds and exterior, it seemed as much an "artisan" fair as a Christmas Market. (Sometimes the booths can be a bit tacky and flea-marketish, but there was none of that here.) It was great to just walk around, window shop, try the snacks, and listen to the a capella men's choir singing Christmas Carols. We went in the evening, as usual, since it is always nice to see all the light display... but that means that taking photos is a bit tough. I did find one place to attempt a shot:

We also went to the Christmas Market in Ulm, which is a largeish city (pop. 120,000) about two hours west of here. Pretty amazing that they have the world's highest church steeple (161.53m high and 768 steps) in their cathedral. The Christmas Market was right at the foot of the cathedral, and included live animals (donkeys, sheep) in the nativity scene as well as the required carousels, artisan booths, and various snack/treat booths. Here are a few pictures:

We never made it to the Munich Christmas Market (there are two markets there, one in a hip Greenich Village type neighborhood and the other right downtown on the Marienplatz, which is like a fairyland with lots of lights we've heard). The Nuremberg market, which we did last year, was definitely one of the nicest (should be, it is 1200 years old), and it would be nice to make it back there again as well. A friend told me about a small one in a tiny village 10 miles from our house that includes camel rides for the kids! Maybe next year. ;-)

Christmas Day was filled with the sounds of noisy toys being played with for the first time... and today (also a national holiday) we went to a restaurant with friends and then over to another house at 3:00 for coffee and cake (a common tradition on Sundays, and apparently holidays, here).

So that's the remainder of December, except for some big news which we will save for the New Year's report, since it fits so well with the theme. (Now we've got you wondering, don't we??)

We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and please know that our wishes and warm thoughts continue for you into 2007 and throughout the year.


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