Christmas Markets of Austria and Bavaria

Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Munich

Author: The Traveling Professor/Monday, August 14, 2017/Categories: Germany & Austria

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Christmas traditions in the United States today involve driving to the mall (or going online on Amazon), buying expensive electronics gifts, maybe going to the office Christmas party, and perhaps going to the ultra-crowded shopping center for a lighting of an enormous Christmas tree while greeting everyone with "Happy Holidays".

However, in Austria and Germany, it's the Christmas you remember from long ago.  Starting at the end of November through Christmas, people celebrate much differently than we do.  My first impression is that it is more of a social season than a gift-giving season.  People gather at the town square to have some gluwhein (mulled hot wine) and local foods to celebrate the holiday.  This happens not only one night, but every night from the end of November until Christmas. It seems like every town, large or small, has a town square where local vendors put up small booths with locally made crafts.  Horses clip-clop down the street, trumpeters play heart warming traditional tunes.  Holiday baked goodies are enjoyed in the chilly air.  It's more of a season of togetherness than gift giving.

Cities like Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck are small enough and beautiful enough to display Christmas in all its joy and splendor. In Vienna for instance, a special "Christmas Trolley" allows families to travel with Austrian version of Santa Claus.  In Salzburg, the trumpeters spread the Christmas joy, in the snow sprinkled streets of Tyrolian Innsbruck, the Christmas decorations make me feel 5 years old again.

Christmas is certainly a special time in Austria and Bavaria and a travel experience that exists nowhere else.

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