It’s a Christmas Market!

Well, Christmas is almost upon us!  How  in the world did that happen?!  How does the time fly by so fast??

Coming from the states, and Texas in particular, I am used to tons of Christmas lights and decorations everywhere.  I’m used to seeing neighborhoods and homes being lit up like the Griswold’s, and lots of yard decorations.  And usually decorating starts the day after Thanksgiving (unless you are one of the light nuts who does the actual million lights….they start back in the summertime!).

Here in the Netherlands, people don’t decorate like that.  They consider it a waste of energy to put up a lot of decorations, so you don’t see a whole lot of lights on the houses (at least in my neck of the woods).  Breda City Center has Christmas décor on the streets and the canals, and it looks nice, but it’s just not the same.  But I will say the stores and shops know how to decorate!  This particular store hung the majority of their trees upside down!  It looked strange at first, but the I noticed that it made all the ornaments really stand out!  And they had some trees made out of branches that I thought were fantastic!

 

 

 

Being that Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, I find myself really missing all the lights and colors and decorations.  I miss how my old neighborhood would decorate, and almost every house would participate.  I miss driving by the several homes that coordinated their lights to music (LOVE those!).  This one is so epic – a home near San Antonio, Texas – it actually made national news!   And because Star Wars was just released….how can you NOT love this one!!

Here in Europe, the season is in the air with the smell of Christmas markets everywhere, and all of their foods and goodies.  Most of these markets are held on the weekends, in the main square of the city.  And many of them are themed.

A few weekends ago, we drove to Cologne, Germany (aka Koln) to see their Christmas markets.  They actually have 6 different Christmas markets that have different themes: Cathedral X-Mas Market X-Mas Market in the Old TownAngel’s Market in the City (Neumarkt), Harbour market Gay and Lesbian Christmas Market.  We went to the X-Mas Market in Old Town, and perused the Cathedral Market for a while before heading home.

First up was the X-Mas Market in the Old Town.  It was crowded, but not too horrible.  There were tons of booths with lots of knickknacks and goods.

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From Giant Gingerbread houses:

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To yummy food you could actually eat (and it was all super delicious!):

They also had goods of all kinds…

 

They had a blacksmith there who was making good luck horseshoes.  That was really interesting to watch!  We had one made for my niece.  We were lucky because we put her name on the list, and happened to come back and check on the progress right when they were about to start it, so we were able to capture it’s entire making!

I am a pen fanatic.  I love pens, all types, and have all my life.  I really enjoyed calligraphy when I was younger and had some nice pens and calligraphy sets.  I was very happy to see this pen booth, and even happier to see they had various calligraphy style pens and fountain pens and quills.  As a gift to me, I picked out a beautiful glass pen and ink set (I chose purple ink).  I love them, and some of my family members received a Christmas card that I wrote in with it!

They had a ferris wheel, and of course an ice skating rink.

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We spent several hours at this market, looking at all the booths, buying things here and there.  It was a lot of fun, and helped me get more in the holiday spirit.

After the X-Mas Market, we passed by the Cathedral Market and decided to walk around it for a bit.  It was so very picturesque – my pictures don’t do it justice!  With the backdrop being a Cathedral that was built in the 1200’s – it’s magnificent.  The sun was setting, and as you can see, the huge Christmas tree in the Christmas market is just dwarfed by the Cathedral behind it.

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It looks like they are in the process of restoring/cleaning the Cathedral, so parts of it look much brighter and whiter than the rest.

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Good food was to be had here as well.

These ladies were running a booth (I don’t even know what the booth was) and I just thought they were adorable, so I took a picture of them.  I loved the hats they were wearing!

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Other cool characters who we saw while walking around…

Cologne was interesting, and I would love to go back and visit the rest of the city once the holidays have passed.

But until then….we all can’t wait for Christmas!

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