The Magical Spirit Of Christmas

Christmas Market In Munich, Germany

Christmas won’t be typical this year but there’s always a way to enjoy some of the beloved holiday traditions and rituals that make this season special. The magic of Christmas will survive because the spirit of the holiday season lives within each of us.

For centuries, Christmas markets which are also known as a Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt have been a special part of the holiday season in Austria, Germany and the Alsace region of France. Travel back with me to a simpler time, before Covid-19, to enjoy a little of the magical spirit of Christmas in Europe. Imagine strolling through narrow cobblestone lanes in storybook villages or through the illuminated grounds and courtyards of spectacular medieval castles enjoying Christmas markets in authentic and atmospheric settings.

The beautiful historic centers of cities such as Munich, Salzburg, Strasbourg and Vienna as well as small country villages go all out for Christmas. Green garlands and glittering white lights and twinkling stars are strung over streets and draped from building to building for blocks on end. Often glistening snow covered rooftops add to the spectacular beauty and fairytale atmosphere during the holiday season.

Market stalls are set up in the prettiest squares, usually with old town halls, churches, palaces or castles as their backdrop, transforming them into a romantic winter wonderland with a giant Christmas tree at their center. There are living nativity scenes, boys choral concerts, performing brass bands and small groups of carolers that entertain the crowds, creating a festive ambiance that should charm even a “grinch”.

Small wooden huts, decorated with fresh cut greenery and fairy lights, sell traditional handmade items such as wooden toys and decorations, hand carved nativity sets, handblown glass ornaments, hand knitted items and pretty carved candles.

Other huts sell seasonal treats such as hot glühwein, mulled red wine spiced with cinnamon and cloves, gingerbread, stollen, roasted chestnuts and sugar coated almonds. The aroma of grilled sausages and onions, pretzels and other delicious local delicacies from the food huts will make you forget about your feet, hands, and ears getting cold while being outside.

Christmas traditions in the quaint villages of Alsace, France are particularly enchanting but you probably won’t have snow in this part of Europe. However, if you are visiting Austria, especially some of the small towns in the mountains, you have an increased chance of visiting a Christkindlesmarkt in the snow…but just not this year. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has changed all that in 2020.

Even though held outside, Christmas markets have been cancelled. Hotels can’t accept guests at the present time, restaurants (except takeout and delivery) and bars are closed and concerts and similar events can no longer take place. After spending two Christmas holidays in Austria and Germany and observing all of these wonderful traditions, I know this has to be a huge disappointment to generations of families that get together during the holiday season in this region. However, Germany is considering allowing private gatherings in public for up to two households over the Christmas period.

Everyone is trying to make the best of the situation, especially for young children. Countries are reassuring the children that Santa, his elves and reindeer are essential workers and will be allowed to travel around visiting families as they are exempt from global travel restrictions. French citizens are only allowed to leave their homes to buy essential items at the present time but their government has stated that Christmas trees will be considered essential items for the holiday period.

christmas sleigh
Christmas Sleigh With Tree And Packages


The pandemic has definitely changed how we will celebrate this holiday season, it will be a Christmas like no other. Festivals and markets have been canceled, we are not supposed to gather with families and friends indoors and we can no longer travel to different countries. While it may be hard to be in a jolly mood, the magic of Christmas will survive. Cities have put up displays of shimmering lights and beautifully decorated Christmas trees. If you haven’t already decorated your home, get those treasured ornaments and lights out, they will brighten your spirits.

gingerbread men cookies
Gingerbread Men Cookies

We all need to find a way to have some Christmas in our life even if it is celebrated virtually. Do something different this year with your family. Find a gingerbread recipe, get together on zoom and make gingerbread cookies along with family members or friends. Perhaps you could host a virtual cocktail party with your friends. What is most important is to keep the spirit of Christmas alive within us all.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

109 thoughts on “The Magical Spirit Of Christmas

  1. Trees been up and decorated for over a week. It really helped. I’ll be doing Christmas baking in the next couple of days. We really need to celebrate as much as we can. Merry Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!

    1. Thank you for your wish, Merry Christmas to you and yours Darlene. It sounds like you are making a wonderful effort to enjoy this season as best we can.

  2. Wishing you a happy Christmas, Karen, despite all the restrictions, and all good wishes for 2021! Thank you for all your lovely blog posts this year, which always brighten a day 🙂

    1. Hi Judy, I always enjoyed a little snow on the ground…it made for a pretty Christmas but everyone only wanted a little. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with very little shoveling through the end of the year. 😊

  3. I have never been to the Christmas Markets. They sound like so much fun! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hard lockdown over here from next Wed. on till 10. Jan. Every store, except grocery, is closed. There are many businesses are suffering and lots of them won’t exist anymore…so sorry for them. No Oktoberfest, no carnival, no Weihnachtsmarkt, no Firework this newyear…2020 is definitely different and hard.
    Still, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Karen!

    1. Hi Angie, I feel so bad for everyone having to deal with the lockdowns, it has to be hard on all those concerned. It will be hard to keep the spirit of Christmas under the circumstances. Thank you for you wish, the same to you and yours.

  5. Thank you for the virtual Christmas Karen! I agree, get out the decorations! I am enjoying my decorations more than ever this year and am already planning to keep things Merry in a wintery way long after Christmas is past! Merry holidays to you~

    1. Hi Jenna, You are one person who definitely knows how to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your home. Thank you, Merry Christmas to you as well.

  6. This year is going to be the year of superior exterior illumination. Everyone more than ever seems to be getting in the decorating spirit. Hoping that with everyone home together that more of the old fashion holiday spirit can be shared. We have been to the German holiday festivals and they are really amazing. Love getting a slab of the real gingerbread and walking around the cobblestone streets. Well maybe next year. Stay well and take care

    1. Hi Bobbi, I’m with you about the hope of the old fashioned holiday spirit happening this year. Aren’t the Christmas market so much fun! Thank you for your wish, I hope you and your family have a nice Christmas.

    2. Hi Bobbi, I’m with you about the hope of the old fashioned holiday spirit happening this year. Aren’t the Christmas market so much fun! Thank you for your wish, I hope you and your family have a nice Christmas.

      1. Hi Dorothy, I went out the other night and was amazed how many more lights there are this year. I think we all need a little more light in our lives now.

  7. This post is so lovely– and makes me ache for a European Christmas! I would love to share this on my blog (giving you full credit), if you are okay with that.
    Frohes Fest! Joyeux Noel!

  8. I agree Karen… get out the Christmas cheer! I’m not doing as much but I am definitely enjoying the simple pleasures of Christmas. And cherishing the quiet moments.
    Your gorgeous pictures came right at the correct time… sweet man and I just talked about how we want to go back to Germany again. Going during the Christmas Season to enjoy the Christmas Markets would be wonderful!
    Merry Sunday to you!

    1. Hi Nancy, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post about the Christmas markets. I believe you would definitely enjoy visiting Germany during the holiday season, it is very special the way everyone celebrates there.

  9. Thanks for brightening my day with these shots of European Christmas – we’ve never been in the winter. Wouldn’t it be nice to experience the magic of Christmas like we did as children when Santa was still circling the planet.

    1. Hi Larry, I’m glad you enjoyed the post Larry and appreciate your kind words. It makes me smile to know that I could brighten the day. I totally agree with you about experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child.

  10. Thank you Karen for helping to bring some Christmas spirit into my heart. Today is the Lucia and here in Sweden, it symbolizes the beginning of the traditional Christmas season. Oh, yes it’s still being celebrated here, but either digitally (like us) or from a distance. We cherish our Christmas markets here as do other countries. But this year, there will be none like in past years. We have traditionally started the season with a visit to Copenhagen (it’s just an hour on the train) and Christmas at Tivoli, but not this year. For the first time in recent history, Tivoli is closed for Christmas and the border is closed to Sweden. Even the famous and wonderful Christmas market at Skansen in Stockholm is closed. So yes a very different Christmas season. And oh yes, it’s so important this year to find those little joys and memories and to learn a different and perhaps enlightening Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday season and stay safe over there. There’s always Christmas 2021, we’ve already booked a visit to Denmark…

    1. Thank you for mentioning St Lucia Day, Ron – You bring back precious memories of my being a tiny blonde-haired girl back in Tallinn, absolutely shivering with joy when Dad carefully placed the wreath of burning candles on my head for a few moments . . . an incredible feeling of happiness at being trusted to perform a custom . . .

    2. Merry Christmas Ron, I hope you, Eva and Chloe have a nice one.Hopefully our 2021 Christmas season will be memorable than this year and for all the right reasons.

  11. This Christmas will be like no other but we can still enjoy the traditions of the season. Thanks for reminding us of the spirit of the season. Finding joy in the little things like a string of lights or a home made ornament can brighten our spirits and give us hope. Here’s hoping next year will be a year of safe returns to normal life and celebrations of life and family.

    1. Merry Christmas Jan, I agree that even though this year’s holiday will not be the same it is the little things that can still brighten our spirits.

  12. Santa is indeed an essential worker! Not to mention the elves. :–) We’ve never been to a Christmas market, and it’s one of the things we want to do. And soon, I think, after we all receive vaccinations. Although there’s a lot of other travel we want to do too. Decisions, decisions. 🙂 Holidays will be strange this year, but we’re actually looking forward to celebrating with just the two of us. Anyway, lovely post — thanks.

    1. Thank you John for your nice compliment and friendship. Santa and his elves are definitely essential. They will be very busy tonight bringing children all their wished for toys, along with big smiles and happiness. Merry Christmas.

  13. We are out of lockdown, but with restrictions – I hope that doesn’t lead to an increase of Covid here in January.
    There will be better years to come, like your beautiful pictures. Merry Christmas Karen!

    1. The same to you Mad Dog, Merry Christmas. I’m hoping that the coming year will be a much better one. Thank you for all the years of friendship.

  14. There is nothing quite as magical as the Christmas market in Europe. We were lucky to experience it while in Germany. One day we hope to go back during the holiday season. In the meantime, I’ve been baking and sending off cookies. Gives me great joy 🙂 Cheers to a wonderful Christmas and healthy year ahead of us!

    1. Hi Sandra, Aren’t the Christmas markets special, I’d love to return to enjoy them in the future. I’m sure that your Christmas cookies are bringing lots of happy smiles to all those that enjoy them. Merry Christmas.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Dorothy, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of the Christmas markets. Wishing you all the best this Christmas.

  15. Lovely to see your photos Karen. 😃 The latest restrictions have been announced today… shops closed from 16th Dec till 10th Jan, and from 24th to 26th December five people (plus children) can meet but only if close family relatives. Also a curfew from 9pm. And fireworks have been banned for New Year! Oh, I hope this is all over by this time next year! But I have baked cookies and made mince pies (thanks again for the inspiration there!) and have all my candles lit. 😃 There is a little magic at home too. 🎄☃️🥨 Have a good advent week Karen!

    1. Hi Cathy, I have been keeping up with you restrictions, they are hard ones but so is the concern on the number of new cases. I think you’ve done well keeping the spirit of Christmas and I’m happy that you made those little mince pies you spoke of. Merry Christmas and stay safe. 😘

  16. These photos have a magical quality Karen. My thought about travel have changed with the pandemic. I’m grateful to experience these things through your lens and eyes and words.

    1. Thank you Gary. I appreciate your kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I totally agree about travel for the present until the world is in a safer and healthier position. Merry Christmas!

  17. I love those Christmas markets, the town where my brother lives has a cute one , but not this year. This year Christmas will be different for all of us. I am finding some joy in staying at home and enjoying the peace and quiet without the usual running around.

    1. Hi Gerlinde, I didn’t hear of any Christmas market happening this year, hopefully next year things will be different. You are right, this is definitely a more peaceful year with no running around in crowded stores shopping for last minute presents. Merry Christmas.

  18. A true German Christmas market was always on my travel bucket list as I had never been traveling when they were up and running.
    I suppose that “bucket” will have to wait just a bit longer—
    Thank you for sharing Karen—a Blessed Christmas to you and your family!

    1. Hi Julie, I do hope that in the future you will be able to experience a Christmas in Germany. Not only for the markets but how Christmas is celebrated in that part of the world. It reminds me of simpler times and is observed the way I wish it was here. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  19. Lovely pictures from past Christmas’s. There is a lack of festivities this year but as you say, we can bring it indoors into our homes instead and go all out. Sending you Christmas cheer from Australia.

  20. Thank you for the beautiful photos of European Christmas markets . . . have sort’of thought about coming to see but perchance been ‘frightened’ off by circumstances – here Santa arrives in budgie smugglers on a surfboard in bright sunshine probably heating up the day to some 35 C 🙂 ! Who wants to heat up the kitchen when a mango-and-prawn salad or a steak cooked outside on the barbie wearing shorts and thongs and emptying a stubbie makes so much more sense 🙂 ! Short, cold days even with well-remembered Christmases from one’s childhood, may not be so inviting !! Ha ! Only comparing with a green-eyed jealousy afoot ! One day ! Australia’s Covid situation at the moment being as blessed as it is / / . those who do celebrate it here are looking forwards more than ever. One unexpected present : Since China and Australia, like two naughty children, are definitely not talking for Yule . . . the country is blessed with ‘their’ lobsters sold here at half-price most usually cannot afford !!! Best Karen, to you and your husband !!

    1. Thank you for your wish Eha. Warm weather is part of our lifestyle in Florida as well but not this year. While in the 80’s on Christmas Eve, we will only have temps tomorrow around 50 which makes lots of Floridians happy…at least on Christmas.

    1. Thank you for your compliment about the photos Janis, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. So true about having plenty of time to plan for future trips. Merry Christmas.

  21. I always love seeing your beautiful travel photos! I think this year has made us appreciate all the freedoms we have been able to enjoy—and I’m going to be SO grateful to enjoy family, friends and travel again in the near future!! xo

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment about my travel photos Liz, thank you. It is so true about our family, friends and being able to travel, we will never think of them in the same way again. 😊

  22. Girlfriends and I were planning a Christmas market adventure in Europe this year, but thanks to Covid it is just one more thing that will have to wait. Seeing them through your eyes is almost as good as being there.

    1. Hi Linda, I do hope that the world is in a better place and that you and will friends will be able to see the Christmas markets in Europe, you will love them.

  23. I have always wanted to visit the Christmas markets and almost took a cruise a few years ago to enjoy them but then I needed to help Rick with his trade show. I wonder now if I’ll ever make it. I recently saw a great feature on UK’s Bath markets on and thought maybe I should combine my next England visit with a Christmas tour. But I wonder when that will ever be. Ilove your photos — they’re fabulous. But I think it will be awhile before I feel safe to do international air travel again. So extra thanks for sharing this!

  24. Karen, thank you for sharing these magical images of European Christmas markets. I have always thought that would be a fabulous trip. My home is decorated and I find joy in the peace and calm within my walls. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. Thank you for your compliment and lovely wish Pam. I so enjoy stopping by for a visit to see all your beautiful Christmas decorations. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  25. It’s going to be a Christmas spent remembering past Christmasses. Or maybe it will be one that, being forced to do new things, we’ll establish new traditions! I guess it all depends on how you approach it. Your photos make me yearn for travel, though – and there’s no decent substitute for that!

    1. You are so right about there not being a good substitute for traveling but we can certainly make some new Christmas traditions. Merry Christmas Jeff, I hope you have a good one.

  26. Oh, Karen! Thank you for all of the wonderful European Christmas memories! I spent a truly magical Christmas season visiting my German friends years ago. More recently, my husband and I celebrated a very special Christmas in Paris. We will always treasure those holiday memories! This year we must celebrate a quiet, old-fashioned Christmas with just the two of us. Our neighborhood has so many more Christmas lights than ever before. I think everyone just wanted to share a little ‘extra’ Christmas spirit this year!
    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for the ‘gift’ of your blog posts throughout the year!💗

    1. Hi Dawn, Thank you for your lovely compliment. It makes me happy to know that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back nice memories of the Christmas season that you spent in Germany and Paris. While this Christmas will be a very different one, I hope it is a pleasant one. Merry Christmas.

  27. While I always enjoy your images, these were really special. Thank you. And you are right, we all need a little Christmas. I put up a tabletop Frazer Fir and enjoyed walking down memory lane with the ornaments from so many friends and family. I love the idea of a virtual baking or cocktail party..will have to work on that. Merry Christmas!!

    1. How nice Amelia, thank you for your lovely compliment and wish. I hope you enjoy Christmas with perhaps a new memory or two. Merry Christmas.

  28. I’m in awe of your beautiful photos, Karen! Yes, Christmas will be different and difficult. I try to focus on the future and even the best of normalcy will be appreciated.

    I was going to go low key with decorating but someone said it would cheer us up to do it up pretty. So I’m adding day by day (and purging–very much needed!). I’ll set a pretty table for my husband and I…when did I start doing this for others instead of myself and my partner in life?

    Sending love and good holidays wishes!🎄


    1. Hi Jane, thank you so much for your very kind words, I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos. No matter how low key you say your decorating will be, knowing you it will be lovely. Merry Christmas to you ad yours.

  29. They really know how to celebrate Christmas in Europe. So many years practise and lots of cold weather make for a magical time. Its is beautiful and it all makes sense. It is so very different here and many of the traditions just seem strange in the heat of summer. The summer weathe makes for an entirely different experience and for those used to the magic of Chriistmas in the winter I am sure our style of Christmas would make them very homesick. Merry Christmas to you Karen

    1. Merry Christmas to you Tania, I’ve spent Christmases in both warm and cold weather and they do indeed have a different feel. Here in our part of Florida we are having an unusually cold Christmas this year. Warmest of wishes for a lovely day.

  30. I guess I’ve never traveled over Christmas, but I did visit my daughter in December when she lived in London, and even they have a huge Christmas market! It was fabulous. They certainly put you in the spirit!

    1. I’m sure that the Christmas market in London would be very much like those in the rest of Europe Mimi, with the exception of the food being sold there. Wishing you a lovely Christmas Day.

  31. We have been doing regular virtual cocktails since the weather has gotten cold, they are surprisingly satisfying. We still entertain outside but only one other couple, we have an outdoor heater and electric blankets, it’s exceptionally cozy. Christmas celebrations will be virtual too, we are fortunate to be able to do it.

  32. I miss travelling specially in Europe and this is one of the best times to be there. Luckily we can free to roam around in our little country so I guess it will be a long drive for us instead of a long flight this Christmas.

  33. With these difficult time travel and travel restrictions this year, it is so refreshing to see these beautiful pictures. But will save this down time to spend it with the family , thanks for sharing this Karen! Wish you Happy Holidays!

    1. We are indeed difficult times Aarthi and I’m hoping that photos from the lovely Christmas markets can brighten spirits. Thank you for your lovely comment and wish.

  34. I hope you have a lovely holiday season this year. It’s different for sure… Kids can’t go see Santa this year, which feels weird. But we’ve been still enjoying making cookies, getting our tree, driving around to see lights, and more!

    1. Thank you Amy, Merry Christmas to you and your family. Yes, it certainly is a different holiday but it sounds like you are making the most of it.

  35. Wow! It seems like such a magical place to spend Christmas. Hopefully, next year things will be more normal. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas, Karen. Stay safe and well.

  36. Beautiful photos and yes, there are still many ways to celebrate and bring light and joy into our lives. Hopefully soon, this will all be a bad memory. Sadly, so many lives have been changed forever and so much hardship. I feel grateful for so many things. Great post!

  37. I remember being in Europe during the holidays and admiring the festive lights adorning the many street fairs, where vendors were selling their crafts and seasonal treats. Miss those times. Hopefully, we can all enjoy them again in the near future.

    1. Hi Carolyn, I’m glad you were able to have visited the holiday markets during your travels. Hopefully we will be able to travel again in the not to distant future. I hope you had a nice Christmas.

  38. Christmas is alive more than ever!!….Very soon we will be traveling and enjoying again….Merry Christmas and all the best in 2021!….Blessings……Abrazotes, Marcela

  39. The Weihnachtsmarkt will be missed this year but it is for the best. But my memories of them (Heidelberg and Würzburg) are magical. I actually still use real candles on my tree using the candle holders I got at the market in Würzburg. When we lived in Maine and could get a fresh tree, they were stunning. Here in Arizona, we use a wrought iron tree which has its own magic. Thanks for bringing back so many wonderful memories, Karen.

  40. Thank you David, I’m happy that the post brought back nice memories. I have to agree with you that it was best to cancel the market this year for the safety and health of everyone. You certainly have some of the same memories we do of the wonderful Weihnachtsmarkt that we do, they are very special. I have glass candle ornaments for our tree. Your real candle lite wrought iron tree sounds perfect. I hope you and Mark had a wonderful Christmas.

  41. How did I miss this beautiful post? We were in Prague last fall until Dec.15th, and I shared a few photos on our Instagram account. We miss Europe and hope to get back in the new year! It’s still officially Christmas until January 6th, so… Merry Christmas and a healthy Happy New Year!!
    xo Anna ( and Liz)

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