December 20, 2004

A German Christmas

December in Germany is magic. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, there is no more wonderful place to revel in the wonder of the season. Germans bring the holiday out in the open, with colorful Christmas Markets (Christkindlsmaerkte; Weihnachtsmaerkte) in cities and towns around the country; ancient, cobbled pedestrian areas lined with strings of soft, white lights and decorated evergreens; shop windows bursting with gugels and kugels and kuchen; rosy-cheeked citizens sharing mugs of steaming Gluhwein at outdoor cafes.

Drive the Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse) from Wurzburg to Fussen, stopping at Rothenburg, Dinkelsbuhl and Nordlingen, where churches and cathedrals tower above city walls that embrace the medieval towns like a good, strong hug.

December days are short here. But when the sun disappears, the magic intensifies. The colored lights glow brighter, and the Gluhwein goes down sweeter. Pack your parka and your mittens, and get out there.