Hi everyone! Merry Christmas! I’m so excited that we visited Longwood Gardens yesterday-We got to see the orangerie decked out in holiday décor and Christmas trees and we sung Christmas carols. I just love the energetic, hopeful, happy spirit associated with the holidays: Everyone is in a good mood. I love the cozy ambiance that comes with this time of the year too: Nothing is better than to turn on the indoor lights in my room, walk around home with fuzzy socks and candy cane slippers on, watch Elf in the living room under a blanket, and watch Miracle in bed with a cup of green tea.
Maybe you can already tell, but I love doing fun Christmas activities. Actually, I love doing any winter activities like snow-tubing and drinking too much hot chocolate. I got to experience some cool holiday-themed activities this year, and I wanted to chronicle them here. My last blog post was about visiting the Hudson Valley’s Lyndhurst Mansion to see its Christmas decorations, and now I’d like to talk about Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem.
I’ve never seen anything like this. In New York, I’ve been to Bryant Park’s Winter Village, Union Square Holiday Market, and the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. But Christkindlmarkt triumphs.
Christkindlmarkt is located in Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem, a place known as the Christmas City. It’s in the state’s Lehigh Valley region, and it’s roughly a 90 minute drive from New York City. I adore living in the New York City area because it’s such a nice location in the Northeast: We can explore the beautiful Adirondacks up north, can appreciate the outdoors and fall foliage of our New England neighbors, head south to the Jersey Shore beaches in the summer, and are eight hours from the Canadian border. I’m just so grateful that there’s always something to do-whether you want a city day, want to take an ocean swim, or take a hike to see summit views. And I’m grateful for Christkindlmarkt.
Christkindlmarkt is one of the best holiday markets in the country, according to Travel + Leisure. It’s an indoor market under four tents and has over 150 stands. Your options for dining are also endless- there are Austrian desserts, funnel cake, and poutine.
Christkindlmarkt also kicks it up a notch with ice carving and glassblowing demonstrations (You can sign up to create your own glass ornament!), photos with Santa, and live music in the dining hall. There’s a Christmas tree outside where you can take the perfect family photo and an outdoor fire pit. My dream is to visit Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg or Munich’s Christmas Market (Actually, I’d love to overall visit Europe in the winter), but visiting Christkindlmarkt in the good old USA is enough for me now.
This year, Christkindlmarkt ran from Friday, November 22 until December 22. I strongly recommend purchasing tickets online in advance, as the line to purchase tickets before entering the market is long. You save so much time buying tickets online. You can spend a solid three hours at Christkindlmarkt.
Without further delay, here’s a recap of my blissful experience at Christkindlmarkt. If this market left me without words, I can only imagine how the Christmas markets in Germany look like and what they will do to me (And my wallet).
The Käthe Wohlfahrt part was my favorite, without a doubt. It’s a German company based in Bavaria that sells traditional German Christmas items and offers items in holiday markets across the U.S. The things they offered in this market were insane.
I learned something new here- the origins of a Schwibbogen are traced back to miners, as they used lanterns to safely navigate their way around. Schwibbogens are synonymous with the Erzgebirge region, a region in the southeastern part of the country next to the Czech Republic.
More snapshots of Käthe Wohlfahrt. I bought a tote bag that said Deutschland on the top next to a German flag, and there seemed to be almost watercolor-like images of the Brandenburg Gate, the Bavarian Alps, and the Neuschwanstein Castle on the middle of the bag. This tote bag came in handy when I only had a biology lecture to go to one day, and this tote bag carried my study guides and sandwich/croissant when I came to class to take final exams.
More snippets of what we saw! How cute are these Nordic gnomes?! I love their red caps. We also went inside an ornament shop, and the ice skate ornament immediately caught my eye.
Aside from Käthe Wohlfahrt, my favorite part of the market were the Christmas trees that each represented a nationality. My favorite ones were from Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Ireland, and Italy. Each tree was accompanied with text that highlighted that country’s traditions, so I even learned some new facts. Each nationality represented here was actually present at Bethlehem at one point in history, as immigrants settled in this city.
Here is the Lithuanian Christmas tree. My favorite author is actually Lithuanian, and visiting Vilnius is on my bucket list.
Russia! We have a similar ornament on our tree. I loved how the text mentioned Ded Moroz and Snegurachka. Where is the mention of olivye, a traditional salad that I absolutely adore? 😉
Poland! Kamil Stoch is my favorite ski jumper, and Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains looks like a dream with its summit views. Morskie Oko looks like the Polish Banff. Also, I really, really love Ptasie mleczko chocolate.
I’ve heard of Wigilia before, but only knew that the Polish may open gifts on Christmas Eve (I was told this by a Polish classmate in middle school and 12 year old me was very impressed). This text made me learn more about the time-honored tradition of Wigilia.
ITALIA! I love a nice coffee from Eataly NYC, and my art-loving soul would love to go to Florence one day. And the Amalfi Coast. One day. I loved the ornaments on the Italian Christmas tree.
We saw an ice carving demonstration! The fact that people are able to make such creations with their hands leaves me in awe.
All that walking and marveling over the Christmas shops is sure to make you hungry, right? You can’t go hungry at Christkindlmarkt. We had German potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer) and hot chocolate. Point is, you’ll be drooling- there’s also pierogies, halupki, bratwurst, cheesesteak nachos, weiner schnitzel, and pizza.
I’m ending this photo montage with a Christmas tree! There is a photo op in the front of the tree that is perfect for families. The buildings behind the tree are the remains of Bethlehem Steel, a sign of how the city was a metal production mecca. The site is amazing and there’s so much history that reflects Bethlehem’s industrial heritage. But that’s a story saved for another blog post.
Hand-crafted gifts? Check. Delicious food? Check. Visiting Christkindlmarkt is a sure-fire way to feel the Christmas spirit. Käthe Wohlfahrt stole the show for me. Maybe it’s time to use the Mango Languages app provided by the New York Public Library and learn beginner German?