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Berlin When the Weather Outside is Frightful...
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Berlin When the Weather Outside is Frightful...

The Christmas season is nothing short of magic in the German capital. Here’s where to get your fix of holiday cheer.

From advent calendars loaded up with sweet surprises to the ubiquitous trees, many (near-universal) Christmas traditions have their roots in German culture. Locals still take these traditions seriously and the month of December is truly a special time in Berlin. When the weather outside is frightful, Berliners retreat to their fireplaces and sip steaming mugs of Glühwein (mulled wine). Just like a local, you can eat, drink and be merry, too!

Traditions

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, children all over Germany wake up each morning to open their advent calendar and see what special treat lies in store for them that day. While classic advent calendars stuffed with chocolates and the like can be found all over, these days adults are just as likely to stock up on luxe versions promising everything from gourmet cheeses to wine. Be sure to set up an Adventskranz, the traditional evergreen wreath, on your door here and wish everyone a “Frohe Weihnachten or Merry Christmas.

Markets

Enjoying a cup of spiced Glühwein and snacking on roasted chestnuts at a Weihnachtsmarkt (a Christmas market), is one of the loveliest ways to celebrate the season in Germany. Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz both host enormous commercial markets, complete with theme park rides and pounding Schlager music. For something a bit more refined, head to Gendarmenmarkt or check out the Scandinavian-inspired Lucia Christmas Market at Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer-Berg. For a truly grand market in a palace, check out the market at Schloss Charlottenburg.

Christmas Delicacies

Step into just about any Berlin bakery in December and you’ll inhale the intoxicating aroma of butter, citrus, cinnamon and other spices. In addition to the usual Christmas cookies, or Plätzchen, you’ll find a number of specialties well worth seeking out. For starters, Lebkuchen are made from a dough rich in nuts and spices that is left to age for more than a month. Lighter and significantly tastier than the fruitcake, Stollen is a dense loaf speckled with candied fruit and nuts best served in thin slices on Christmas morning. Finally, Baumkuchen, or “tree cake,” is made by painting thin layers of dough on a spit over an open fire. The resulting cake has rings like a tree and comes glazed with icing or dipped in dark chocolate.

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