LutherCountry’s authentic Christmas markets

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On cobbled squares surrounded by half-timbered houses, LutherCountry’s Christmas markets are picture perfect. Think choirs singing carols and the scent of gingerbread and mulled wine. Christmas trees are everywhere. After all, it was Martin Luther, who “invented” the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, 1536. He cut down a fir tree, set it up indoors and decorated it with real candles! He even composed the first Christmas carol: “From Heaven above to earth I come, To bear good news to every home.” But there are many more reasons why the German federal states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, south of Berlin, provide an authentic Advent experience.

The past lives on in the ancient city of Lutherstadt Wittenberg, where craftsmen sell their one-of-a-kind gifts. Find them in, for example, the Cranach Courtyard, where Luther’s friend, the great Renaissance painter, once lived and worked (November 26 - December 30). The most beautiful Christmas market? Many choose Quedlinburg, with its backdrop of centuries-old, half-timbered houses. Visit at weekends, when the Höfen, the atmospheric courtyards, are filled with stalls selling high-quality, local crafts (November 27 to December 22). Equally romantic is Eisenach’s Wartburg Castle, where stallholders in medieval dress demonstrate age-old skills, from candle making to glass blowing (November 30 - December 1).

More modern is Magdeburg’s new attraction, the World of Lights, with one million LED lights illuminating the market (November 25 - December 30). Also new is the market in the courtyard of the elegant, 17th-century Friedenstein Palace in Gotha, where an ice rink adds to the fun (November 29 – December 22). In Lutherstadt Eisleben, the Christmas market surrounding Luther’s statue includes an impressive three-story Christmas pyramid, plus live outdoor entertainment. Luther often visited Mansfeld Castle, which hosts a market in its courtyard (December 7 – 8), while Halle (Saale)’s Finnish Festival (December 6) celebrates Santa’s Arctic Circle home with Finnish-style salmon and cranberry mulled wine.

Eat, drink and be merry!

During Advent, everyone eats dishes that Luther himself would have enjoyed, from roast goose with red cabbage to grilled Thuringian bratwurst sausage. Sweet treats include Baumkuchen, a cake made with butter, eggs and sugar, and cooked over a wood fire. There are Christmas cookies, gingerbread and Magdeburg’s Schmalzkuchen, like fresh, hot mini doughnuts. And everyone loves Stollen! This delicious cake-like bread is another LutherCountry specialty. Naumburg’s recipe is unique; dating back to 1329, it includes cherries and kirsch. Also yummy is Erfurt’s version, called Schittchen. Love chocolate? In Halle (Saale), the famous Halloren-Kugeln balls have been made for 200 years in Germany’s oldest chocolate factory.

Christmas gifts for all!

One of the delights of LutherCountry’s Christmas markets is meeting the craftspeople. Some hand-carve wooden nutcrackers, crèche figures and tree decorations. Others knit cheerful sweaters and scarves or build sleds for children. And in Sonneberg, nicknamed “Toy City”, they make toys. Not forgetting Lauscha, the birthplace of glass Christmas tree ornaments, where glass balls are still hand-blown. When FW Woolworth saw them in the 1880s, he took some home, made his fortune and started a Yuletide custom!      

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About LutherCountry: Where you can walk in Luther’s footsteps

Would you like to step inside the very room in which Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German, or admire the pulpits from which he preached and where pastors still preach today? Do you want to taste beer brewed the way Martin Luther liked it? Then come and visit LutherCountry, where you can explore Luther’s old stomping grounds and much more!

LutherCountry is situated in the heart of Germany and has so much to offer, from fascinating churches and museums for the believers and history or culture fans among you, to beautiful landscapes that could be straight out of a children’s picture book.

What do the places in LutherCountry all have in common? Centuries ago, they were the stage for Martin Luther’s tumultuous life and thus played a special role in the Reformation, which changed the way people thought about so many aspects of daily life. Martin Luther’s influence spread through Western Europe and, with European settlers, to the United States.

Although Luther lived five centuries ago, his presence is still tangible today. Grab your suitcase and come experience the unforgettable – LutherCountry is waiting to be discovered!