Christkindlmarkt – Munich, Bavaria, Germany

A Charmed Time of Year

The American novelist Thomas Wolfe concluded that Munich is “a German dream translated into life”—and the description seems especially apt during Advent, when the capital of Bavaria turns into a three-dimensional Christmas card.

Countless holiday markets crop up around Germany during the holiday season, selling handcrafted ornaments and crèche fig­ures, candles, wood-carved toys, and traditional objects associated with the season, including the Weihnachtspyramiden (the “Christmas pyra­mid,” a candle-powered merry-go-round found in every German home).

Rivaled only by Nuremberg’s picturesque market (famous for its gingerbread houses and ornaments made from spices), Munich’s Christkindlmarkt is one of Germany’s largest, oldest, and most enjoyable. Hundreds of brightly garlanded stalls sprawl across the Marienplatz, the cen­tral square at the heart of Munich’s Altstadt (Old Town), around an enormous fir tree.

Decked with lights donated by a Bavarian town, it stands proudly before the Rathaus. This is the neo-Gothic town hall, with a forty-three- bell carillon; frequent concerts with accompa­nying dancing figures add to the Yuletide flavor.

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