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The Trier (pronounced 'Tree-air')Christmas Market is not as large as many other German Christmas markets, but its setting is particularly poetic.
Trier is the oldest city in Germany, being already well established 1300 years before the Romans arrived to make it the favourite city of Roman Emperors – and the birth place of Constantine The Great.
Arriving in town, it was easy to find the Christmas Market – it just meant following the crowd.
It was Sunday and we arrived just after the market opened at 11:30 – and over the afternoon the crowds just kept increasing.
Here at the Trier Christmas Market you can buy real traditional glass baubles for the tree…
…or any number of variety of posies, orchids or floral decorations.
..or – since it was the 1st Sunday of Advent – you could select an Advent ring and take it home to light the first of the 4 candles for the weeks of Advent.
The Trier Christmas Market takes place in the medieval central market place …
…and it is a gathering place for locals and tourists alike to drink Glüwein – or for children, hot orange juice and honey – with friends – old and new.
As I watched people gathered happily around the Market Cross that has stood in the Market Square of Trier since 958, I thought of the quote of Scottish poet Alexander Smith, who said that:
Christmas is the day
that holds all time together
We stopped for a drink and were soon in conversation with a couple who had come for a few days from a small town in Switzerland (3 ½ hrs away) to enjoy the Trier Christmas Market.
It was a typical situation. In Germany one makes a polite greeting to others sharing the same high table to perch their drinks while taking in the scenery or chatting with friends – and before you know it, you are in a cheerful chat with a perfect stranger.
As with any German Christmas market there is delicious hot Glüewein…and for those of you who want to be warmed up from winter cold, here is a traditional recipe.
(Note that you need to use good wine – not something you wouldn’t drink and think it will just do as its being heated and the taste will somehow improve!)
Recipe for Glüwein (serves 8)
• 8 cardamon pods
• 10 cloves
• 10 whole allspice
• 4 star anise
• 1 stick cinnamon
• 1tsp coriander seeds
• 1tsp Aniseed schnapps
• 1 litre of red wine
• 1 orange
Crush cardamom pod. Wrap crushed pod together with cloves, allspice, star anise, cinnamon, coriander and Anise in a square of gauze and tie – or tip all into a small net bag (like a tea bag)
Bring red wine and 500ml water to boil and pour over the bag of seeds. Wash the orange in hot water, dry and slice into thick slices and add to the wine mixture. Simmer, covered, over low heat 15 mins.
Remove bag, pressing to remove all fluid – and add sugar to taste.
There is never a shortage of delicious food and drink at a German Christmas market, and Trier is no exception.
Apart from the traditional gingerbread hearts…
… there are wonderful bags of aromatic nuts – especially almonds. The nuts come in a variety of tempting forms, including all kinds of sugared variations, roasted or coated in caramel.
There is also spun sugar – bags of pink “fairy floss” if you are Australian, “cotton candy” if you are American – or – trust the British to combine the two ends of the world into a compound – they call it “candy floss”!
With its location at the head of the Moselle River, and its close proximity to Luxembourg, the Trier Christmas Market…
… is obviously the festive gathering point for surrounding areas as well as for the locals and tourists…
…who all are drawn to experience this elegant German traditional market in its beautiful setting.
In the Trier Christmas Market, even the toilets and the rubbish tins are in theme.
It seems the Christmas Market is overlooked by either saints …
…or by knights.
…although there were others overlooking the scene – like these goats making an interesting contrast against the cathedral.
The Trier Christmas Market is a wonderland for children, with carousels...
…and all sorts of wooden toys …
…and performers – including two animated Bavarian elk singing and entertaining from the roof of one of the booths.
Beyond the Christmas Market, the rest of Trier was also in festive dress…
… as we headed for the Porta Nigra, the last remaining structure of once magnificent fortifications that surrounded the ancient city of Trier.
Along the way, this man was singing a rich tenor oratorio.
He was flanked by shop window mannequins who seemed as transfixed as I was.
We couldn’t pass without contributing to the contents of his collection bowl.
We passed the oldest stone building in Germany – the famous Trier “House of the Three Kings” …
…with it doorway high above, in earlier times reached only by a drawbridge that could be hauled up to stop intruders entering.
The Christmas shop windows reflecting the Porta Nigra gave a special sort of time-merging…
…of modern imagery against and ancient background…
…and every shop window seemed to reflect the beauty of the ancient buildings of Trier.
We left the Porta Nigra…
..and headed back to warm up in a lovely coffee house we had spotted on our way in.
It had the most delicious cakes…
…which somehow caused me to look even more favourably at the gingerbread houses I had seen in the window…one of which had to come home!
I find that the traditional German Christmas Markets – where you meet your friends for a hot mug of Glüwein, chat and laugh, roam the stalls for that “something different” for a friend, eat all sorts of delicious traditional fare while enjoying the faces of the children as they look in wonderment at the magic of it all – is something quite special.
It certainly differs from the rush of shopping that too often has come to be the hallmark of Christmas elsewhere.
The great entertainer Bob Hope once said:
When we recall Christmas past,
we usually find
that the simplest things –
not the great occasions –
give off the greatest glow of happiness.
A day at the Trier Christmas Market in Germany certainly has that effect.