Monday, 12 December 2011

German Shop Windows - My World


My daughter went on a very short weekend trip across the Channel to visit the Christmas Market at one of my favourite German cities, Charles the Great's city of Aachen. Charlemagne, as he is known in French and English, started to build his Imperial Cathedral in the year 792  and Pope Leo III consecrated it in 805. The core of the cathedral is the Palatine Carolingian Chapel; it is small compared to the rest of the building, but every inch of it speaks of over 1200 years of history. It is an absolute jewel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From a postcard

Aachen lies on the borders between Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Luxemburg is no more than a stone's throw away.

Aachen's Christmas market is set around the cathedral and town hall. This beautifully decorated "Christmas village" on the market square has everything your heart could desire. One local speciality you really must try is the Aachen Printen, a kind of gingerbread.



You will find a large variety of Printen and other Christmas cakes and biscuits, "Domino Stones", gingerbread, "Spekulatius" and marzipan bread. These are distributed all over the world by Aachen bakeries.

At Aachen Christmas Market they come fresh from the oven.




There are many stalls selling traditional folk art; these small china or, more often, beautifully glazed terracotta houses are all copies of existing buildings somewhere in Germany. They are highly prized and rather expensive to buy. I have three, perhaps there'll be another christmas post showing my wooden figures and these houses. I'd love to own more, even adults collect them. 



Apart from the wish to stroll about a traditional Christmas Market, eat Reibekuchen (potato cakes) and drink Gluehwein, my daughter's visit had a further purpose: to shop in German supermarkets. She goes a bit too far, I reckon, in her mania for buying German foods and specialities at this time of year; as she was willing to take a long list of items I just happened to need myself, I forgive her.

I am awaiting the arrival of a large food parcel any day now.

This post is part of Our World Tuesday


67 comments:

  1. Oh, this took me back! I always loved those markets when we lived in Germany. Nothing warms you better than a glass of gluehwein! While I'm not a big fan of gingerbread I LOVE the tins they come in at Christmas!

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  2. I'd love to visit the German Christmas markets some day! Have a friend headed there tomorrow :-)

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  3. Hello:
    Gosh your post has transported us back a couple of decade to when we met our now long standing German friends and our first trip together was to Aachen.

    it is an absolutely delightful place, full of interest and charm. We can only imagine how magical it looks at this time of year when full of Christmas 'goodies'.

    And, what excitement to be awaiting your German delicacies in rural Shropshire. A small world indeed and we are the richer for it!!

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  4. Such a beautiful place, delightful, colorful captures and such interesting history! Terrific post! Hope you have a wonderful week, Friko!

    Sylvia

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  5. Oh I would be a devil for collecting those houses!
    Lovely post.
    I commented in Ireland this year that Europe knows so much (compared with Canada and US) about displaying pastries to the best advantage.
    Works of art.
    XO
    WWW

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  6. it's all become so commercial here. perhaps I wouldn't feel so totally like a scroogey grinch if there was a little more old worldness to the celebration in this country.

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  7. what a magical place...love the architecture on the card...and the look in the shops is festive and cool...fun trip friko...

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  8. I also like to visit stores that sell Christmas items. Thank you for sharing a little about a place unknown to me.

    Have a wonderful week
    Roberto

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  9. Those photos have many elements of my fantasy Christmas party...

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  10. Such beautiful photography (and places) SIGH. I hope to travel "across the water" someday...

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  11. Oh, it looks wonderful! I would love to go someday to a Christmas Market. It's turned so cold here that I'm searching for cheap flights to tropical places. I need to vacation in the sun.

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  12. Oh, I remember being shown how to make Lebkuchen by my penfriend's mother nearly 50 years ago. I've never managed to visit any of the Christmas markets, but this post really makes me want to do so.

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  13. Your area of the world certainly knows how to celebrate the holidays! I assume that is what we in this country try to hard to create. The magic of the history and tradition. We are too new and too much in a hurry to do it as well as you do. Lovely photos have now put me in the holiday mood!

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  14. I'd go to Germany at any time of the year for the bread alone .
    But the magic of a Christmas market is something everyone should see at least once !

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  15. So sehr gebraucht. Vielen herzlichen Dank für diesen Ausflug. Einen guten Dienstag dir.

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  16. We all go a bit too far with something. ~Mary

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  17. Thank you, Friko, for giving me my 2011 glimpse of a traditional Christmas market. Last year, a friend who grew up in France - in Lorraine, the more German part of that region, sent me pictures. She went to markets in the Saar region of Germany and also in Metz in France - all delightful. Now I have Aachen. It's my dream to make a Christmas market tour some time. Aachen would definitely be on my list.

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  18. This post makes me want to someday experience a European Christmas. It's all quite beautiful and delicious-looking. Right now I will have to settle for a feast for the eyes ;)

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  19. Dear Friko,
    I've read books--mostly novels--that have used the term "Old World Christmas." I never really understood what that meant and it sounded fairly chauvinistic to me.

    Still, when I read your post today and viewed these visually perfect photographs of the Aachen Christmas market, I find myself so wanting to be there and to experience a Christmas that is filled with traditions that I'm not used to. Thank you.

    I hope you get lots of goodies in your "large" food parcel!

    Peace.

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  20. Friko, I hope that you continue to feel better as Christmas gets closer. Just seeing these wonderful pictures of the Aachen market has made me feel quite cheered.

    I'd love to someday be able to visit it myself, and will remember that it was you who first showed me its beauty.

    xo

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  21. Having ODed on travel during my working days, I'm reluctant to travel very far these days, but I have to admit to wanting to visit Aachen based on your presentation of it. Very beautiful! Jim

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  22. The Cathedral is spectacular, and the shop windows, oh my! Of course I'm full of curiosity about what treats will be coming back for you from across the Channel. A lovely post for the holidays.

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  23. The cathedral is amazing!
    Fascinating to see how other countries decorate and what they have for treats. :)

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  24. What a magical tour you took me on. Thank you. That cathedral is incredible. And the markets ...

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  25. what a fun outing!

    Sounds like your daughter enjoys here German side. Her mother must have made it lovely to her.


    Joyous season, my friend



    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

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    ><}}(°>

    < ° ) } } > <

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  26. It looks like Christmas, the real thing, none of this 'festive season' rubbish, aimed to neither offend nor gladden a single heart.

    Hope you are over your enforced 'mini break'. Isabel x

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  27. It all looks very enticing. Would love to visit the cathedral.

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  28. I too am missing a few things for my Christmas baking which are not locally available. Aachen really goes overboard with it's Christmas market. If I had a chance to shop there, I think I would soon assume the proportions of an elephant.

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  29. Wow - now that is a real market!

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  30. Auch in Lübeck und Lüneburg, sogar in Hamburg, gibt es jetzt die schönen Weihnachtsmärkte. Ich war auch gerade da, kann immer nicht widerstehen, obwohl es alles so voll ist. Hoffentlich kriegst Du ausreichend Marzipan, ohne ist doch nicht richtig Weihnachten!
    Ich muss Dir mal wieder schreiben! Bis dann, Angela

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  31. And right there you have the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere Christmas!

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  32. I was there just last week, myself. 'Twas lovely!

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  33. We appear to have bought into the German Christmas market scene. The centre of Southampton is barely recognisable at this time of year. No bad thing.

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  34. Lovely pictures reminding me of Munster in particular. Gluehwein seems an essential part of Christmas to me - along with my Weinachts Pyramide, which will make it's traditional appearance when we decorate the house.

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  35. We went to the Birmingham German market on Sunday. Not as wonderful as a real one, I am sure, but some beautiful things nevertheless and the Gluehwein was much appreciate in the cold, pouring rain!

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  36. Oh, how quaint and rich and delicious! Beats the heck out of an American Walmart Christmas Discount display any day of the week. I live in the wrong part of the world. Thank you, Friko, for your Our World series.

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  37. Now that's a market. I would love to see something that beautiful around here. I hope your parcel comes soon.

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  38. How wonderful this all is, Friko; the food, the dolls, the wooden houses. I can almost smell the aromas and fragrances of the German Christmas market. I hope that package comes soon for you.

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  39. What excitement--to know your list of food wishes has been addressed and that the goods are on their way. I felt just like that last year in Turkey when visitors from the States would come and bring some of my nostalgia-feeding favorites.

    Here's how effective the photos are in this post: I'm not even big on Christmas, but I absolutely would have loved to be next to your daughter, ogling, touching, buying, full of wonder.

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  40. Hi Friko .. fantastic photos and story line - now I've added that to my list one year ... looks a glorious Christmas market.

    Then I could visit the Cathedral and Carolingian Chapel - sounds just amazing .. and what history.

    We had a card from the Chaplain in London at the hospital .. with a quote from 'Alcuin of York' an advisor to Charlemagne and a Scholar .. which made me do a search for more information .. so I could read all about it to my mother - she was fascinated.

    Thanks for these wonderful pictures and thoughts for a German start to Christmas .. cheers Hilary

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  41. Took me back to my days stationed in Ramstein, Germany while in the military. I have visited Aachen, but not at Christmas. That entire part of the world is beautiful. I used to spend a lot of time on the Mosel River at Trier.

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  42. Ah, Friko, how beautiful! It all looks wonderful, and it all looks like things I would buy!

    Pearl

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  43. I love going to the German Christmas Markets when they come to this country, but I would love to go to Germany to experience one there... Maybe next Christmas!

    I love those little houses too... I'd buy them if I had somewhere to put them.

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  44. How wonderful to have someone to shop for you! I know, because my husband is buying groceries today, while I think I'll have a nap. The dog was so happy to see him come back from his business trip, she wore herself out greeting him, so she's napping already.
    I was very close to this lovely town in the spring, when we visited The Netherlands and Belgium, and changed trains in Luxembourg.
    K

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  45. This looks like a magical place to visit this time of year. I would love to go to Germany, especially this wonderful place, during the Christmas season. Thanks for sharing these photos.

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  46. Christmas decorations in Germany are always excellent. That is why they are famous for their Christmas markets. Top article.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  47. Hey, you just reminded me I have houses packed away like that somewhere . . .

    My sister in Amsterdam tells me about the Christmas markets there, and they call to me for a sweet way to shop for Christmas.

    My university has a study abroad program exchange with Aachen. Have I told you that Inge is a director in the study abroad office?

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  48. Beautiful, Christmas oozing images.
    I do love German cakes and have fond memories of Bienestich (Bienenstich?) and Kaizerschmarrn.

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  49. Oh this brings it all back -- the wonderful 5 years we lived just outside of Munich! Every year I have a bit of homesickness for the traditional German celebration. Your pictures are fantastic.

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  50. my first visit here. these are delightful photos-i love the pink Santas.:p and the cathedral is simply breathtaking.

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  51. Goodness what an assortment of treats. Thanks for sharing your daughter's visit to Aachen. Now that's a goal, to visit Aachen in December. Enought to cheer any Mom. Dianne

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  52. A beautiful post, Friko. It makes me a little homesick for Germany, where I lived long ago for a couple of years.

    I often read your interesting blog, but only comment occasionally because you have so many comments I wonder how you can keep up with them.

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  53. I only spent one Christmas in Germany but was impressed by the colour and the choice and the liveliness of the markets.

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  54. Out of all the marvelous things you've talked about, I am most attracted to the glazed terracotta houses. And, I love that they are all copies of buildings in Germany. I would love to see the ones you presently own Friko.

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  55. Oh, this looks wonderful! I've only been to Germany once and that was in the summer -- I can see I've missed a treasure. Those houses are especially tempting.

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  56. Oh, it all looks glorious, Friko! How wonderful that this is still so relatively close to you. I've seen announcements here in the U.S. about tours that travel to German markets for Christmas shopping and I've always thought that would be fun. Now I'd LOVE to go sometime!

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  57. ich war auch einmal in Aachen und die Stadt hat mir überhaupt nicht gefallen. Natürlich, die Kirche ist prächtig, aber das war für mich schon die ganze Pracht. Ja, und die Deutschen sind schon fast fanatisch mit Fest und Feier :-)!
    Dir liebe Grüsse!
    Renée

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  58. The scenes are absolutely magical! We don't have markets like this here. What a treat!

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  59. I'm back with more time. What an amazing treat. I look at the Cathedral and am held by it's remarkable beauty and construction. Why do we now fill the world with such tall sterile buildings. SO much faith and love went into building that breathtaking site.
    As for "foods from home", it's in our family as well. Were these the Christmas holidays you grew up with? Magical.

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  60. Travels to Germany around the Christmas season is very popular in Japan. There must be so many wonderful things to see and do in Germany at this time of year. Aachen is attractive as a border town and the Chapel looks majestic and beautiful. Reading this post would be the best next to exploring the enchanting Christmas markets in person. Wish you a very merry and peaceful Christmas, Friko.

    Yoko

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  61. Thank you for this wonderful journey to the Christmas market - wish I could be there!

    Anna :o]

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  62. This is Christmas - not our cardboard mountains of microwaves and consumer electronics under a "Happy Holidays" banner! These markets truly are feasts for the senses - just looking at yours has ooched my holiday spirit up a bit!

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  63. I know little of Aachen, but this was a lovely and informative post, Friko. My visceral reaction is that the German culture does a much better job with Christmas than the American culture. All of these delectable foodstuffs make me want to spend next Christmas in Aachen.

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  64. Yes, Shoreacres is right. I want to go there! Told my FB that a Christmas MUST be spent in either Austria or Germany just for the markets - it must be like being insdie a fairy tale. A pox on globalization!!!

    (My lord but it takes forever to get to the bottom of your comments if one doesn't get here, pronto!)

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  65. I can see Aachen will be on my list of places to visit someday.

    When I go to germany in winter I make a point of visiting Deichmann shoes, to get children's winter boots. It seems impossible to get sturdy reasonably weatherproof warm boots for kids here, unless you pay designer prices. It's amazing British kids don't have pneumonia all the time in winter. The last pair I got only cost me 19 euros too, amazing. :)

    I didn't realise those houses were modelled on real ones in Germany ,

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