Winter Wonderlands German Christmas Markets Spread Their Charm Abroad
Who can resist a spot of Glühwein and Lebkuchen at Christmas? Not many, it seems -- German-style Christmas markets are becoming increasingly popular outside Germany, especially in the UK.
Germany is responsible for many of the traditions which comprise the modern idea of Christmas around the world, most famously the Christmas tree which was popularized in the United Kingdom in the 19th century by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
And another German seasonal tradition is becoming increasingly popular abroad -- the Christmas market. A number of British cities now have "German" Christmas markets, complete with sausages, pretzels, Lebkuchen cookies and Glühwein, the German version of mulled wine. The organizers of Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas market, whose stalls are run mainly by Germans, claim it is the largest German market outside Germany or Austria.
Other countries too have their version of Christmas markets, including France, Spain, Finland, the United States and Canada. There is even a Palestinian Christmas market in Ramallah in the West Bank.
But for many people nothing compares with the real thing, and seasonal shopping trips to Germany's Christmas markets from the UK and Ireland are becoming increasingly popular. Visitors are certainly spoiled for choice: Germany has over 2,500 Christmas markets, some of them hundreds of years old. The oldest is Dresden's Striezelmarkt, now in its 573th year.