Wednesday, December 23, 2009

German Christmas Markets Thrive Despite Great Recession

The Brits usually aren't too thrilled about anything German trying to make its way across the English Channel. But there is one exception. Each year, German Christmas markets take over the downtown pedestrian zones of a growing number of British cities. The biggest one -- and perhaps the biggest one anywhere outside Germany -- is in Birmingham.

"Smells good," the man in the gray trench coat says. But is he talking about the Glühwein or the bratwurst? "The mix," he says, as he breathes in the cold winter air -- this matchless "German mix." The city hall of this British metropolis of more than a million people bears a sign with large lit letters reading: "Happy Christmas Birmingham." In front, a German flag is waving, and a yellow pennant flying above the "Knobi Satt" stand promises filling garlic bread.

Each year, dozens of small wooden stands are set up in the pedestrian zone of Birmingham, England. The Frankfurt Christmas Market is imported in toto by container ship from Germany -- bringing a touch of Germany to Victoria Square. You can find Aachener Printen ginger bread treats, Christmas Stollen cakes, nutcrackers, lambskin slippers and wooden toys -- just as you would at the real Frankfurt Christmas Market on the city's Römer square. Glühwein -- which is German for mulled wine -- is even served up in mugs emblazoned with the Christmas market's logo. Heart-shaped Lebkuchen ginger bread hearts are frosted with words like "Schatzi," or "sweetie." The price lists are even written in German. The only difference between a Christmas market here and one back in Germany is that you have to pay in pounds.

To read more:,1518,668831,00.html

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