Tastiest treats at German Christmas markets

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03:51 mins.
06.12.2017

Tastiest treats at German Christmas markets

There's food for all your senses at Germany's famous Christmas markets. Join Meet the Germans presenter Kate Müser as she discovers some of the best - even one that will make your eyes drool instead of your mouth.

Every other week, DW's Kate Müser explores the quirks of everyday life and language in Germany. Originally from the United States, Müser has lived in Germany for over 13 years. Follow Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/meethegermans.

Which German words do you need during Christmas time in Germany? Find them here: 

Culture

Vorfreude

Strangely, there is no English word to directly translate "Vorfreude," which expresses "joyful anticipation." The German saying, "Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude," reminds us that anticipation is the greatest joy. Children learn quickly enough that their impossible list of wishes will not always get fulfilled. The fun part is that they can still happily hope it will — maybe — next year.

Culture

Plätzchen

A good way to sweeten the long (but joyful) wait until Christmas is with cookies. The ones Germans bake are called "Plätzchen," which literally translates as "little place." "Platz" (place) is also dialect for "flat cake," so Plätzchen are just a smaller version of those. And we'll always have a little spot left to eat one or two more of them, no matter how full we are.

Culture

Lametta

In a classic 1978 Christmas sketch by German comedian Loriot, a grandpa complains, "Früher war mehr Lametta!," (There used to be more tinsel!). The couple decorating the Christmas tree explains that they now prefer ecological decorations. Tinsel was invented in Nuremberg around 1610. It was originally made with real strands of silver, and later lead — until that was discovered to be poisonous.

Culture

Krippenspiel

Even non-religious families often go to church on Christmas Eve. After all, the whole party was invented because Jesus was born, and that's something children should at least know before overdosing on sugar and presents. Most services that night include a nativity play, or "Krippenspiel," where children recreate the events that led us, over 2,000 years later, to continue celebrating Christmas.

Culture

Christkind

In some parts of Germany, and in different European countries, it's not Santa Claus who brings the presents under the tree without being seen, but rather the Christkind, represented as a blond angel with wings. Santa Claus started taking over in the mid-20th century, following his appearances in US films. Many German children still send their list of wishes to the Christkind — just to be sure.

Culture

Bescherung

This is definite proof that Germans are more precise with their Christmas vocabulary: "Bescherung" concisely refers to the moment during which gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve. When they add the adjective "beautiful" to that word, as in "schöne Bescherung," it can ironically mean "what a mess." That was the title of the German version of the comedy "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

Culture

Heiligabend

Gifts are traditionally exchanged on Christmas Eve, called in German "Heiligabend" (literally, holy evening). Christmas itself translates as "Weihnachten," which is derived from ancient Germanic dialect and means the holy nights. The term is plural, as the celebration was traditionally one that covered 12 days. Now in Germany it runs from the evening of December 24 through December 26.

Culture

Raunächte

Although the exact dates differ from one region to the other, usually, the "Raunächte" correspond to the period known as the 12 Days of Christmas, from December 25 to January 6, ending with the Christian feast of Epiphany. In Germanic mythology, during this special period of the year, animals were said to be able to predict the future and demons could pay a visit at any time.

Culture

Morgenland

Epiphany is the celebration also known as Three Kings' Day, when the Wise Men came "from the Orient" bearing precious gifts for Jesus. In German, they're called "Die Weisen aus dem Morgenland." Martin Luther coined the term "Morgenland" in his translation of the Bible. The word is now an outdated way to refer to the Middle East or Far East.

Culture

Hüftgold

This is not exclusively a word for the Christmas season, but it's certainly a glittering German expression: "Hüftgold" (Hip gold) is what you might develop, like this gingerbread man, after spending several days feasting. It's the equivalent of "love handles." Go ahead, enjoy all those delicious Christmas treats. Those extra pounds will make your hips shine.

Interested in new year's traditions in Germany?

Culture

Slide into the New Year

Shortly before New Year's Eve, people you meet will typically wish you a "Guten Rutsch," which literally translates as "have a good slide." The expression could come from the Yiddish word "rosch." Rosh Hashanah, the name of the Jewish New Year, is, however, set in the fall on a different date every year. Other linguists relate the expression to the archaic German meaning of "Rutsch" - a journey.

Culture

Offer lucky charms

If a German gives you a little gift like this one New Year's Eve you're allowed to find it ugly, but you should at least know the intention is to bring you good luck for the new year. Lucky charms in Germany include such "Glückspilze" (lucky mushrooms), ladybugs, four-leaf clovers and little pigs.

Culture

Prepare a big bowl of 'Bowle'

Germans might believe that "Bowle" is an English word, but it's not at all - though it's probably derived from the word "bowl" - as you need a huge one to serve it. "Bowle" is a German term for punch. For many Germans, this is a must-have party drink on New Year's Eve. Typically combining fruits, alcohol and juice, there are countless recipes, including delicious alcohol-free variations.

Culture

Enjoy hours of food

Although you might end up at a party with a buffet of finger food, many people choose dishes that can be eaten over several hours as their last meal of the year, such as fondue, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil. Also popular is raclette (pictured), where cheese is melted on a table-top grill, accompanied by meats, pickles and potatoes. The long meal shortens the wait until midnight.

Culture

Look into the future by melting lead

For this New Year's Eve custom, people take turns letting a little piece of lead or tin melt in a spoon held over a small flame, and then drop it quickly into cold water. The strange shapes it then takes on are supposed to reveal what the year ahead will bring. This fortune-telling method called "Bleigiessen" (lead pouring) even has a technical term in English: molybdomancy.

Culture

Laugh with the cult classic 'Dinner for One'

In 1963, a British sketch, "Dinner for One," was broadcast for the first time on German TV - and has been aired on December 31 for many years, becoming the most frequently repeated TV program ever. It's in English, but the humor is easy to get. An aristocrat woman celebrates her 90th birthday; her butler, covering for her absent guests, gets drunk, repeating "the same procedure as every year."

Culture

Listen to the chancellor's New Year's speech

Angela Merkel has held many already: The chancellor's New Year's speech to the nation has been broadcast on December 31 since 1969. The speech can sound very similar from year to year - sometimes more literally than others. In 1986, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's address from 1985 was re-aired instead of the new one, allegedly "by mistake."

Culture

Wish a Happy New Year

After counting down the last seconds of the year, you can kiss the people you love, wish everyone the best for the upcoming year and contact your family and friends who aren't with you. "Frohes neues Jahr" is German for Happy New Year. Some people might light sparklers like this woman, but many Germans have more ambitious fireworks ready to be lit at midnight...

Culture

Start the New Year with a bang

At the stroke of midnight, it might be difficult to sincerely wish people around you a Happy New Year, as loud fireworks start exploding everywhere. In Germany, consumer fireworks can be legally sold over the last three days of the year to be lit for the big night. Some people stock up to put on a bombastic show for the neighbors. Traditionally, loud noises were believed to drive out evil spirits.

Culture

Drink a glass of 'Sekt' at midnight

Clinking glasses might not be as loud as fireworks; filled with champagne or "Sekt" (German sparkling wine), they can definitely help people get in good spirits. The midnight toast is an international tradition, but the Germans have a specific expression to say cheers that night: "Prosit Neujahr." The word "Prosit" comes from Latin and means "may it succeed."

 

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