Now I have always been the kind of girl that likes to spend Christmas at home in the UK.
Every year you will find me snuggled up on the sofa, circling films in the Radio Times whilst scoffing a whole tin of Roses in my gob; well except for those sickly orange cream ones. Blurgh.
Anyhooo, I guess because I travel a lot, it’s a luxury for me to be in the UK during the festive season, with my home comforts surrounding me.
However, December 2016 sees me breaking my slovenly traditional ways and spending a whole month in beautiful Bavaria.
Two weeks in and I have never felt so Christmasy! Here is why….
The Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) in Bavaria will enchant you as you explore each festively decorated wooden hut with its own vast selection of Christmas crafts or mouth-watering traditional dishes. Keep your hands warm with a cup or two of the famously delicious Glühwein as you try to find that perfect Christmas gift. Opening hours vary but usually daily, from 10am until around 8pm.
For a more traditional experience, check out the local markets outside of the cities such as the one in Fischhausen-Neuhaus near Schliersee.
Let it snow!
From November the temperatures start to drop quite dramatically in Bavaria. By the time it gets to mid December you have a very good chance to experience a Bavarian White Christmas. Take in the spectacular winter scenery by enjoying a romantic horse & carriage ride whilst snuggling under a blanket made of faux-fur.
When you have snow, you have winter sports!
Despite its relatively underrated reputation amongst the world’s ski enthusiasts, Germany’s breathtaking Bavarian Alps are without a doubt, one of the world’s premier winter sports destinations.
Snow covered ‘gingerbread’ style houses and chalets replace high rise developments in Bavaria; each with its own distinct charm reminiscent of Bavaria’s unique character and traditions.
Another benefit of enjoying winter sports in Germany is that a day ski pass is less than half the price of the most popular skiing destinations. For just 33 Euros, skiing is no longer a ‘sport for the rich’, with families now able to enjoy a European winter holiday with total peace of mind. Accommodation is astonishingly cheap too, with some great offers to be found.
Christmas in Bavaria has a dark side. Being on Santa’s naughty list in Southern Germany has far more severe consequences than receiving a lump of coal. Children here are led to believe that bad behaviour will lead to abduction by a demonic beast-like creature nicknamed ‘The Krampus’.
On the day before the feast of St. Nicholas (6th Dec) groups of ‘Schnapp-Fuelled’ men dress up as these frightful creatures and parade around the town, threatening to swat terrified children with sticks.
So if you, or someone you know has the ‘Scrooge Bah Humbug’ gene, then attending this event might make their entire year let alone Christmas!
Picture Perfect Christmas
Along Germany’s Romantic Road from Würzberg in the north to Füssen in the south, is a 400km wintry wonderland route offering some of the most picturesque settings in all of Europe. Find storybook villages, gothic churches and Bavarian tradition at its best. Visit the capital city of Munich; Nuremberg with the oldest Christmas market in Germany, and the stunning Castle Neuschwanstein.
Food & Drink
Historically, the 40 days before Christmas was a time for fasting. This fast ended on Christmas Day, at which time all food and eating restrictions were removed. Nowadays it’s the exact opposite. Personally, I am well on my way to scoff and quaff my way through the whole advent period.
Talking about advent, I have seen some awesome advent calendars here in Bavaria. You can get absolutely any type of food and drink stuffed into these small numbered boxes; including beer!
On Christmas Day expect a traditional Bavarian Christmas dinner to consist of duck, goose, pork roast or rabbit. This main dish is accompanied by German delicacies such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage and potato dumplings. Dessert typically includes the famous Christmas Stollen.
As you can see Bavarian Christmas food is definitely this year’s nemesis to Bali bikini holiday plans. #NomNomNom
Pay homage to the Christmas Tree
Christmas trees were basically invented in Germany. They were first documented during the Middle Ages around 1419. The tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas eve and decorated with fruits, nuts, and baked goods, which the children were allowed to remove and eat on New Year’s Day. In some parts of Germany, during the evening the family would read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and Stille Nacht (Silent Night). Other evergreen plants such as yew, juniper, mistletoe, and holly were brought into homes to brighten up the lifeless, dreary winter months. The custom was brought to the UK by Queen Charlotte, the German wife of George III, who set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December, 1800.
Christmas comes early…..
Santa Claus or Father Christmas (der Weihnachtsmann) brings the main Christmas presents on Christmas Eve rather than the 25th of December. Before that, children also hope that ‘der Nikolaus’ will bring small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate on the night between the 5th and the 6th. Excited kids place their boots by the door on the previous evening in anticipation for some early sugary treats.
There you have it, confirmed, Germany celebrates Christmas like a pro and the region of Bavaria is as Christmasy as it gets.
So I decree. “Britain get out of your comfort zone, dust off the mince pie crumbs, peel yourself off the couch and experience at least one festive season in beautiful Bavaria.”
As the Germans would say…..’Frohe Weihnachten’ to you and your familyStill not convinced you will have an awesome Christmas away from home? Then check out Karma Bavaria's "12 Days of Christmas" ProgramHere