Christmas menu, let’s go to the Weihnachtsmarkt! What traditional German Christmas treats are worth trying: what to eat, what to drink and what to snack on! Our gastronomic guide to the Weihnachtsmarkt!

The long-awaited Christmas season is here, so we recommend you don’t miss out on visiting the Christmas market!

We have time to buy souvenirs for the family, listen to live music (sometimes), take pictures, and most importantly – enjoy all kinds of Christmas delicacies!

The latter is perhaps the most important part of the event – people come here with friends and colleagues to have a glass of mulled wine and sausages and get into the spirit of the upcoming year.

Mulled wine, sausage… stop! What else do we know about the traditional delicacies of Christmas market? What labels and signs should you look for? Which queues should we wait in?

You never know when you are hungry.

You can certainly get a good meal at the Christmas market. If you’re hungry, you might even find a seat for a walker, but who wants to sit down in the freezing cold? The first thing you might want to do if you’re hungry is eat some bratwurst. They come in completely different varieties – lighter and darker, with cheese and bacon… In addition to the sausage you will be given another bun, pour everything with ketchup or mayonnaise. But the highlight of this category is a meter-long sausage! It is usually written as “Bratwurst” above the counter – by the way, it’s a great option for a large group of merrymakers!

In Berlin, and beyond, you’re sure to find a Currywurst in curry sauce. But just be careful – if you’ve already bought one, go straight to point 3 of this article – it’s so spicy you’ll be thirsty!

If all the sausages and frankfurters are boring, look for the sign “Champignons in Knoblauchsoße” – mushrooms in garlic sauce, for those who are not going to make out.

Or another typically German invention – Leberkäse. Literally translated as ‘liver cheese’, although there is no liver or cheese. It is pork and beef pâté, a traditional food of German peasants. It’s baked into a brick shape, then sliced into pieces and served with bread and sweet mustard sauce. Of course you can look for a different side dish. You’ll usually find cabbage to your liking among the rustic country-style stalls where the sausage stalls churn.

If you like it milder, go for Sauerkraut, a sauerkraut. For sausages and sausage, go for Grünkohl, which tastes even slightly sweet. If you don’t want cabbage, go for the native potato! Potatoes are usually sold in combination with fried onions and lard – Bratkartoffeln mit Zwiebeln und Speck.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the bread at the Christmas market isn’t just bread either. You can also buy bread with garlic (Knoblauchbrot), or bread with bacon grease (Schmalzbrot) – all quite hearty on their own.

Some regions of Germany have their own local specialities. For example, by the sea in Kiel, you can’t do without Fischbrötchen, while in Berlin, with its love of all things oriental, you can feast on chinese noodles (chinesische Nudeln) or Turkish döner (Döner) – something similar to our shawarma.

christmas tree with baubles

A sweet tooth’s paradise

Germans tend to eat more at home and go to the fair for a drink (see point 3) or to sweeten the pot. Everything is in place for that. The undisputed number one on the sweet menu at Christmas markets is Lebkuchen, the honey cake.

You can find it in different shapes and colours! It’s baked without yeast, but generously sprinkled with all sorts of spices – cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and, of course, a lot of honey. They cover the top with a layer of chocolate, but there are also variants without it.

The most famous type of gingerbread is Lebkuchenherz – in the shape of a heart. Usually they are also decorated with a pattern or inscribed with coloured sugar glaze – wishes for happiness and even declarations of love.

Nürnberg Lebkuchen is the most famous gingerbread in Germany and you have to go to the Nürnberg Fair, widely considered the best in the country.

Other cities have their own specialties. Aachen offers its own gingerbread, Aachener Printe, made with the spices already mentioned but without the honey, with sugar syrup. The most popular in Dresden, on the other hand, is Stollen, a cake dusted with icing sugar and topped with sultanas, marzipan, nuts and candied orange peel. It used to be the food of the Dresden miners and is now a fixture on almost every Christmas table in Germany.

Other than that, don’t forget the sugar-roasted almonds (gebrannte Mandeln) and other nuts that the vendor happily pours into a bag. Or look for the sign “heiße Kastanien” – chocolate-roasted chestnuts. Not the kind of chestnuts that get dumped on passersby’s heads in the summer and autumn, of course, but rather an edible delicacy.

For the sweet tooth, Nutella pancakes, which are very popular in Germany, are perfect. The Germans call them Crêpes in the French manner; they are baked in front of you and filled to taste. And don’t forget the fruit “kebabs” (Früchte am Spieß), a favourite treat for children. It looks like this: a piece of fruit (banana, apple etc.) is stuck on a thin stick and covered with chocolate or sugar syrup.

Sehr lecker!

To soak your throat

The drinks at the Christmas market are primarily associated with mulled wine, or Glühwein in German, from glühender Wein ‘hot wine’. It is made from red, dry or semi-dry wine with the addition of cinnamon, cloves, honey and all kinds of fruit. According to the rules, the strength of the alcohol must be no less than 7%! Perhaps the classic glüwein is made with oranges, but you can also find apple wine (Apfelglühwein) and cherry wine (Kirschglühwein).

Sometimes a little liqueur, cognac or rum is added to make it stronger, so it is called Glühwein mit Schuß, ‘glühwein with additives’. This lovely drink is sold in beautiful mugs, for which you leave a Pfand, a deposit, when you buy it. You can return the empty mug for 2 to 3 euros or take it with you as a souvenir.

By the way, in addition to all the indisputable taste benefits of mulled wine, it is also one of the strongest remedies for colds. Proven by experience. The king of kings among mulled wine is a drink under the magical name Feuerzangenbowle “drink of fire tongs”. It is essentially the same as mulled wine or punch, which is poured into a large pot and heated over a fire. A metal grate is placed on top, and a conical lump of sugar is placed on it, which is liberally poured over with very strong rum and set on fire. The sugar melts and drips into the wine. The result is a very sweet and strong cocktail. The drink became especially popular in Germany after the 1944 comedy Feuerzangenbowle was released. Today, the film is often shown in movies and on television at Christmas time, similar to our own Easy Vapour.

The power of mulled wine at the fair is undeniable, but not unlimited. You can also indulge in other alcoholic beverages. Eierlikör, an egg liqueur, for example. It’s made from egg yolk, milk, sugar and cognac. Or here’s a hot mead, heißer Met. And of course, Germans wouldn’t be Germans if it weren’t for beer. Whether it’s dark or pale, you’re bound to come across it. It’s best with sausages, of course, but leave the mulled wine and all the hot alcohol for the sweets.

Hungry? Then get ready for a trip to the fair!

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