Monday, November 30, 2015

Weihnacht kommt bald! Christmas is upon us.

Paper stars
We have spent the last two Saturdays in the rain and snow attending Christmas markets. These are open air events held every year in cities large and small across Germany. People wander the stalls full of good will (and sometimes full of what they call Glühwein -- mulled wine made from fruits like blueberries with spices and served hot - we stuck with "Kinderpunsch" which is a hot fruit drink that tastes wonderful). These events are large. The market in Nürnberg is one of the oldest and most famous and the aisles between the stalls were so crowded that you had to walk sideways down some of them to pass through the crush. There was a heavy police presence because of the recent events in Europe, but the crowd was orderly and good-natured, and there were no incidents that we saw of any kind.

Jeff thinks that two Saturdays of freezing while browsing through shiny trinkets is enough, but we will likely visit the Christmas market in Frankfurt and maybe one other that is nearby and supposed to be "medieval." The nice thing about these markets is the religious tone of the celebration. There are performances by choirs and the churches all have activities. Our ward in Nürnberg will have a choir singing next weekend at the market. And it is all set in open spaces surrounded by buildings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. That's hard to beat.

Koblenz November 21

Very old carved wooden figures in a courtyard

These lighted paper stars are really beautiful

This was an elaborate stand -- unfortunately it is basically an outdoor saloon

The stalls in Koblenz were all unique. They sell everything from gingerbread, to ornaments, to chocolate.

Yes, Janet enjoys all of this.

The rain pushed crowd numbers down. 

You want sausage -- they have them. We liked this unique rotating cooker. We think Michael Galland could build one of these.

Koblenz had this great area for sitting or standing and eating.

St. Nicholaus. He looks a little different than Santa Claus, and there were no long lines of children waiting to visit with him.

Okay, we had to throw this in. Because this is one letter higher in the alphabet, it appears to be a bit cleaner than our TJ Maxx.

Nürnberg November 28

Nürnberg is a picture of resilience. The ancient city was an important imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and was the seat of German culture at its peak in the 1400s. The old city is completely walled and surrounded by a moat (now dry). Unfortunately, it was also where Hitler first developed a power base. He held enormous rallies there. The Nürnberg laws deprived German Jews of their rights and property. The allies bombed 90% of the old city to rubble. I have some old photos that I captured below that show this darker side of the city's history. But its Christmas market is one of the most famous, and it is enormous. It's hard to adequately describe the scale of it all. The walls of the old city run 4 miles around the medieval city, and there is Christmas market in a substantial portion of that enclosure. Jeff wants to go back in the spring to visit some of the museums, including the Nazi parade grounds and the museum that covers that part of the country's history.

Yes, that is snow. Brrr!
Altdeutscher Christbaumschmuck - Old German Christmas Tree Decorations

All things made of wood. Those streaks are snowflakes falling past the camera lens.

A strange tradition - people made from nuts and dried plums.

Germans love flowers and plants and they are for sale even now.

Intricately carved beeswax candles.

Unusual candles that were really colorful

Elder Jarrard freezing but checking out wooden toys.
This cute little girl was enjoying a chocolate covered banana on a stick.
The river Pegnitz runs through the center of the old city.

Sardines packing the aisles. This looks way less crowded than it actually was. 
Die Frauenkirche - The Gothic Church of Our Lady

She marks the boundaries of the main market

You can't go wrong with a bratwurst that is a foot and a half long

Merry Christmas

We are definitely in the Christmas spirit. The church just introduced a wonderful initiative called "A Savior is Born." With all of the glow and show, we still only have Christmas because of Christ. We are grateful for His gospel and if all the world would come unto Him and live as He taught through word and example, there could truly be peace on earth and good will toward men. Take just a few minutes to watch the videos at the links below. They will help bring the Christmas spirit into your life.

Why we need a Savior.

A Savior is Born

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