Exchange to the University of Mannheim, Semester 2, 2017
The Christmas season is here and Germany sure knows how to make it feel like Christmas. The main streets of Mannheim are filled with lights, window displays and people. The cold weather is kicking in, only adding to the atmosphere, and making it feel like those white Christmases we only get to see in movies back home.
Tonight was the opening of Mannheim’s Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) and it’s honestly beautiful. There are stalls selling all kinds of trinkets to take back to loved ones. The gifts here range from hats and hand carved Christmas ornaments to miniature houses and candles. It is easy to get caught up in al the gifts you want to buy for your friends and family. There are also many stalls for food and drink. The food stalls range from selling sweets like chocolate and cookies, roasted almonds, different potato treats and of course the German Bratwurst. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many different ways to eat a sausage before. The drink stalls have traditional Glühwein, which is hot wine with fruit, honey liquor mead and non-alcoholic drinks like delicious hot chocolate.
Along with the stalls of food, drink and gifts, there is a fairy tale themed square for the children. It includes animatronic displays of fairy tales like Aschenputtel (Cinderella), Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty) and Rotkäppkchen (Little Red Riding Hood) for the children to admire. Lastly there is a giant animatronic tree telling stories for the children while the parents can stand at the nearby stalls and enjoy the food and drink.
It’s so great to see and experience the Christmas spirit from a different cultural perspective and to experience the different traditions and traditional food and drink. While highlighting the differences from Christmas back home, I love talking to others about the Australian Christmas and their own Christmases. The Weihnachtsmarkt and the cold weather are easily one of the highlights of my exchange and I’m excited to see Mannheim closer to Christmas. The weather report says there may be snow tonight so maybe I’ll get to see a white Christmas!