I was running an errand last week, when I stumbled upon Chicago’s annual Christkindl Market which is inspired by the 700-year-old traditional German Christkindl Markt, or Christ Child Market. I remember these fondly from living in Germany as a kid and from serving on the Board of Directors for the German American Society of Tulsa, but haven’t been to one since 2004.
Walking amongst the crowd in the cold, I could smell the potato pancakes, bratwurst, and gluhwein (hot mulled wine)… and I was taken back to my childhood. Adding to the experience was the fact that 90% of the vendors were authentic German-speaking folks selling all of the traditional decorations that I remember.
Since it was approximately 39 degrees and snowflakes were starting to fall, the first thing I did was get a glass/boot of gluhwein to warm me up.
I walked around for a few minutes and then got in line for a bratwurst… that was seriously the best I’ve had since I left Germany 25 years ago. Tummy full and slightly warmed from the wine, I started shopping:
nothing says German festival quite like a decorated gingerbread heart…
and I can remember making these spraypainted chestnut ornaments in school!
I have a few hand-crafted German nutcrackers and a pyramid, but I have never owned my own German smoker. I wanted to get something that would be able to sit out year-round, not just at Christmas time… so after looking at every single smoker available, I settled on this adorable bee-keeper on the right (hanging out with some nut-crackers I already had):
I chit-chatted with the sales-lady for a while, joking about the pyramid that I own… every single year that I take it out, I have to glue and repair parts of it because they’re so fragile. She laughed and said yes, that it was part of the German Christmas tradition… to repair the pyramid. Given that it’s over 30 years old and has made several moves during those years, I’d say it still looks pretty good:
Anyway, after finishing up my shopping, I noticed a crepe tent tucked back in a corner… I don’t know about you, but I will probably never have enough will-power to pass up a banana and nutella crepe. OMG… heaven!
I’m pretty sure I consumed about a gazillion calories, but maybe – through some sort of Christmas miracle – I burned some of it off by “jogging down memory lane”? Ha!
So have you been to any festive Christmas events this year? What reminds you most of your childhood Christmases?