I was waiting for a friend when I spotted it.
Small, wooden houses filling one of Nantes’ many squares. My friend had yet to arrive, so I nosed around. There weren’t many people yet, the houses were bare, but…could it be?
Some days later the same square was filled with people. People holding sweets, people slurping hot beverages from paper cups, people offering their goods. The air was full of happiness even though it was evidently colder than the nights before. This was my first Christmas market. I didn’t stay long though, I had to dash, an assignment was due, the exams near. As tempting as it was, I couldn’t stay.
A few weeks passed and I found myself relaxed. Relaxed because I had finished my first semester and I was on a train, bound for Zurich. I forgot about my Christmas market back in Nantes. I was filled with excitement, because, hel-lo Switzerland?! The land of chocolate?! For a chocoholic like me, it was a big deal.
I entered the main of station of Zurich and ignored the cold wind that hit my face, all I saw was the twinkling of a majestic Christmas tree and people, lots of people. I knew it was a train station, but these people weren’t there to catch the next train. My curiosity had to wait since I had to meet my friends and settle into our apartment for the few days we were there.
Zurich was magical at Christmas. It was as winter wonderland as you could imagine. On our first night, we decided to walk around and get something to eat.
There it was again!
Small wooden houses filling a square. I don’t know if the one I saw counted as a Christmas market as it was quite a small crowd and rather quiet but there were several stands. Most of the stands had closed, I didn’t realised it was already very late.
Lucky for us, there were still some stands open selling some delicious foods. I chose glühwein, I was told it was hot mulled wine with different kinds of spices, I just had to try it. One sip and I was hooked, I immediately declared it my favourite winter drink. For my rumbling stomach, I opted for some potatoes and sausages. Sounded simple, but in the freezing weather, it was just what I needed. A tingle of happiness filled my warm body.
The next day, we decided we were all curious of all the festivity back at the train station. Upon entering the main hall, the first thing we saw was a tall Christmas tree…a tall Swarovski Christmas tree to be precised. I have never seen anything so grand! This was indeed a Christmas market. I smiled from ear to ear. The tingle came back.
I had never thought Christmas could be so magical with so many buzz. Back home, celebrating Christmas was going to the church. Since my dad was a pastor, he would be “working” and my sister and I would help our mum cook. We would always have a feast (though not the turkey kind of feast), be it only with our own internal family or with our closest friends. There was no Christmas market, no snow, no partridge in a pear tree. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feasts, the carols sung at church, I especially love singing Silent Night while the lights were off with a candle burning slowly in my hand. It was magical too, but I also wondered how Christmas was like on the other side of the world.
It turned out, Christmas on the other side of the world made me tingle, it was just as magical as Christmas back home, but different. The Christmas markets made the season even more special, the festivity hugged me and I happily snuggled.
The next Christmas, I looked for Christmas markets again because apparently now I had a thing for them. I was lucky to have been able to go to two, one in Brasov, one in Bucharest. I felt the same tingle, that Christmas festivity. I could feel it from the vendors selling mulled wine and, this time, kurstosz, from the people, some of them locals, some tourists like me. It was this warmth, this familiarity that I love most about Christmas markets.
It’s during this season, that I become nostalgic of that festive feeling at Christmas markets. I really hope that I’m able to experience it again, and Germany is one of those places I’d like to experience it in. I heard they have amazing Christmas markets there. For now, my Christmas market tingle will have to settle down.
Oh and Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to all!
Have you ever been to a Christmas market?
This week’s theme: ‘Tis the Season