Christmas sort of feels like it’s over, and it hasn’t even happened! But the Stuttgart Christmas Market, along with most other ones in Germany, ended today, and since nothing embodies the anticipation and warm spirit of Christmas better than these markets, it feels like part of the holiday is missing!
While it’s true that “there’s no place like home for the holidays,” being away from home has become easier as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Germany’s approach to the Christmas season. It is very advent-focused; everybody has advent wreaths in their homes and makes a tradition of lighting a new candle each week. Santa Claus takes a backseat. Perhaps since German children celebrate “Sankt Nikolaus Tag” on December 6th by placing their boots outside their front doors and hoping for small gifts to fill them in the morning, they get the “Santa” concept out of the way early enough in the month to shift the focus to advent. Germans do have a mythical figure called the “Weihnachtsmann” (Christmas Man) who brings presents around on Christmas Eve, but we don’t hear much about him. Instead, we sip hot Gluehwein at the markets, listen to children playing cellos and flutes on the cobblestone streets, eat cheesy Spaetzle steaming in its bowl, and wander among the wooden huts that transform this large city into a magical village for a month each year.