|Christmas market (Weihnachtsmarkt) in downtown Bremen, Germany|
Christmas markets are popular throughout Germany and other European countries. Visiting one can be like stepping into a fairy tale setting and leaving the real world behind. But Christmas markets exist in this world and a horrifying, deadly attack on a Berlin market on Monday, December 19, of this year interrupted the joyful pre-Christmas tradition of socializing with a mug of mulled wine or shopping for holiday-inspired, handcrafted goods. With the slogan “Jetzt erst recht!” (“Now more than ever!”), people keep returning to the joy- and colorful world of Christmas markets.
|Warm welcome to the Christmas market in Bremen|
|Christmas market hut|
Christmas markets are not religious events. They just happen to take place before Christmas. Since this is the time of cold weather, snow, ice and only short periods of day light, Christmas market themes derive from seasonal traditions and desires including the wonder of light, sparkling illumination, warmth, sweets, hot drinks, candles, incense, toys, gifts and handcrafted art. People bring their kids, reunite families and will meet with friends or strangers—often both. In the evening, markets can get crowded when visitors are drawn in or snuggling up under the roofs of market huts, which offer local food specialties and hot non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks.
|Mulled wine mug|
|Christmas market huts next to Bremen's Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)|