In the past three weeks or so that I've been train-hopping around Europe, I've been seeing Christmas markets everywhere I go. You may have noticed my blogging about them again, and again, and again. That's because at this time of year — in December, leading up to the big holiday itself — it seems that you're guaranteed to find them in virtually every city and town around. I've seen them in Switzerland, in Belgium, in Germany, and now also in Austria. Here in Europe, they really take their Christmas festivities seriously: every man and his dog's off to the local Christmas market, to share in the spirit and to have a bit of fun.
Christmas market outside the Rathaus, in central Vienna.
Personally, I really admire the Christmas markets. They're full of character: always comprised of cosy little wooden stalls; always lavishly decorated in the seasonal colours; always bustling with people of all ages; and always offering an abundance of cute souvenirs, tasty food and hot beverages. The ever-present Glühwein is great — warms you up, and makes you "merry" — but the markets are about much more than simply getting drunk at sub-zero temperatures. The lively markets, the snowy weather, the family cheerines — all of this combines to achieve a Christmas spirit like nothing I've ever seen back in Australia. Here in Europe, they know what Christmas is really about, and they know how to celebrate it the way it's meant to be celebrated. Being Jewish and all, I may not be the most qualified person in the world to say this: but in my opinion, a "European Christmas" is the only authentic Christmas, and it's how Christmas was always meant to be.