Happy New Year!
I’m back from a week and a half of traveling and am just getting around to posting about the holidays.
On December 23rd, my parents and I took a flight from London to Düsseldorf, Germany, to spend Christmas with my friend Myriel and her family in their town of Neukirchen-Vluyn. We had a super early flight (4am wakeup!) but in exchange we got a gorgeous sunrise from the plane.
One of the things I was most excited about doing in Germany was visiting a Christmas market. We went to a very cute one in Düsseldorf, with a big ferris wheel, which we rode with my parents and Myriel’s mother. The five of us fit perfectly into the closed car, and were nice and warm.
The market itself was so charming, and was spread out throughout the center of the city.
The most important part of a Christmas market is the glühwein – hot mulled wine! We tried both red and white. You pay a deposit for the mug and can choose to keep it as a souvenir (or return it and collect your deposit).
Germans celebrate Christmas on December 24th (unlike Americans and Brits who generally celebrate on the 25th). In the afternoon, before dinner, we took a walk to a nearby park up on a hill.
For Christmas Eve dinner we had raclette! It’s a traditional Swiss meal, where you grill cheese, meats, and vegetables on small personal skillets in the center of the table.
By far the best part of Christmas was that Myriel’s family puts REAL candles on their Christmas tree! They told us that this is rare even for Germans. I had heard that Victorians used to put real candles on their trees and always kept a jug of water nearby for when branches caught on fire, so I was a bit skeptical of lighting real candles on a real tree. But it went off without a hitch, and was so incredibly beautiful. I was enchanted.
After we opened presents by the candlelit tree, we headed outside for a Christmas concert singalong by a bonfire in the center of town. There was a brass band, in which Myriel’s father plays trombone, and they played a few carols we were able to sing along to, like Angels We Have Heard on High and Silent Night. (Of course, we sang in English while everyone else sang in German.)
On Christmas morning, we woke up and had a big breakfast. Can you see Myriel’s cat in the back, hungrily eyeing the feast?
We brought Christmas crackers from London, to bring a little British flavor to the celebration, and opened them at dinner on Christmas Day. Myriel’s brother, sister-in-law, and 9-month-old niece joined us on Christmas, so it was fun to play with a baby and see her fascination with the Christmas tree.
It was so nice to experience a real German Christmas, before heading off to Amsterdam, our next destination!
~~~~~Follow Marathons and Macarons: