I guess that each of us, who celebrates Christmas, has his or her very special associations with the season. For some of us, it’s the first time of the year hearing Wham’s “Last Christmas” on the radio again. For others, it’s having a hot chocolate in a cozy café with gingerbread cookies. And for me as a German, the Christmas season starts with the opening of the first Christmas markets, including having the first Glühwein (hot mulled wine) tipsiness.
Christmas markets in Germany usually start four weeks before Christmas and last until the last weekend before Christmas day. In the last couple of years, I have noticed that this German tradition has spread internationally, and more and more cities are offering all sorts of Christmas markets, such as organic Christmas markets, Scandinavian Christmas markets, children’s Christmas markets etc. So, when I saw that Amsterdam was hosting several Christmas markets in December, I got super excited and felt like sharing the news with you ☺
For those among you who still have no clue what I am talking about, I’m quickly going to brief you on Christmas markets (from my German perspective):
Most Christmas markets are hosted outside to give you the winter chill and to boost your desire in hot beverages and unhealthy sweet or fried food. In many cities, small booths strung together offer all sorts of (kitschy) goods, such as handmade wooden decorations, soaps, handicrafts, knitting work and of course food, like Bratwurst (fried sausage), toffee apples or crêpes AND – not to forget- my personal favourite of all times – Glühwein (hot mulled wine). Glühwein is a really deceitful fellow! It takes advantage of you standing in the cold outside, longing for something heart- warming and tasty. Before you realize it, you had one too many due to the ‘gezelligheid’ with your friends and its seductive sweet and cinnamon spicy taste, colouring your lips and teeth in attractive blue, if you went for the red wine version. In recent years, the traditional red wine Glühwein has been expanded to white wine, hot beer and of course the non-alcoholic hot punch version, which is basically different hot fruit juices with spices (also very delicious!). All in all, I personally love the Christmas market spirit because it gets you in this cozy winter holiday mood, even without snow.
If I’ve been able to convince you of Christmas markets already, I can give you the following recommendation: gather your friends around you and plan a trip to Amsterdam to visit its Winter Market at Rembrandtplein, which lasts until January 3rd in 2016.
In addition, this upcoming weekend, December 12th- 13th, Amsterdam also hosts a Scandinavian Christmas Market at Muiderkerk in Amsterdam East, where you can for instance get the Scandinavian mulled wine format Glögg (mulled wine with a shot of vodka and corn schnapps) and the Scandinavian Christmas spirit.
An alternative for those of you who would prefer a more sustainable Christmas market approach, there is Amsterdam’s Pure Winter Market with organic produce and sustainable gifts, which is taking place at Amstelpark on Sunday, December 13th and at Park Frankendael on Sunday, December 20th.
One last advice before you’re off to Amsterdam: Christmas markets are always fun and most ‘gezellig’ when you can visit them with your friends to create memories that will always remind you of them and your time in the Netherlands. And in case you indulged yourself in too much Glühwein, you have your friends who are there for you and who might want to accompany you on your bike ride home.