We love to travel to Europe, especially during the Christmas season. Here are some of our favorite holiday traditions.
Temporary Update: 12/20/2016 - Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and all citizens of Berlin after the attack on the Christmas Market in the heart of the city. We've visited dozens of markets in Europe and still hope to experience the holidays in Berlin someday. Our hope is for all Berliners to find the resolve to continue to celebrate their culture and beloved holiday traditions.
When bedecked wooden stalls begin to appear in European town squares from tiny hamlets to notable capital cities it marks the beginning of the magical time of the Christmas Markets. The tradition began in Germany but has spread throughout Europe and usually takes place during the four weeks of Advent but many cities now open their markets as early as mid-November. Each market showcases its own local customs, musical programs and food specialities as well as authentic gift items like leather goods, candles, confections, wooden toys, holiday ornaments and decor.
Pantomime, the annual English tradition performed in theaters throughout Britain, is as much a part of the holidays as Christmas pudding and every bit as colorful and sweet. Pantos are wildly, zany productions of folk tales with large doses of slapstick, double entendre and modern political satire thrown in. Your children will adore it and you'll find plenty in the performance to keep you amused too.
European coffeehouses and cAFES
Cafes are an everyday part of European culture but to visit one during the holidays makes the experience even sweeter. Find a cozy table and settle in with a slice of cake and a cappuccino or homemade egg nog (17% proof!) and savor the break in your day. The Germans even have a wonderful word for this - gemutlichkeit - which basically means you're welcome to linger for as long as you like and no one will shoo you from your table.
From Brussels to Budapest and Lisbon to London, Europe's capital cities are aglow in staggering displays of twinkling lights to celebrate the season. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen becomes a winter wonderland and the dizzying light show along the Champs-Elysées in Paris which stretches from the Arc de Triomphe to the the Place de la Concorde is not to be missed.