THE CHRISTMAS SEASON is a special time in Germany, and there’s nothing quite as magical. Nearing the end of November, cities come aglow with oil-burning lanterns and twinkling string-lights, and the shops begin their preparations for the holiday. Store fronts burst with tinsel and pine; bakeries fill with trays of Zimtsterne and Vanillekipferl; and florists are busy creating advent wreathes using fragrant seasonal greens. When the Christmas markets open, which is usually during the last week in November, the elaborately decorated stalls open their shutters to showcase works of art ranging from blown glass ornaments and hand-crafted wooden spoons, to ceramic mugs personalized with hand-painted names. Christmas greenery adorns every inch of the temporary houses; the air fills with familiar scents of candied nuts and raclette; and the streets buzz with happy market-goers, busy holding shopping bags and sipping mulled wine.
German cities featured: Stuttgart, Rothenburg, and Esslingen.