Finding Family History and Christmas Again in Germany
My Top Christmas Destination shares my family history, travel, and local communities engage with family owned businesses surrounded with amazing architecture - some reproduced.
[My short story first appeared with eight other bloggers in a December 2016 collaboration article "9 Travel Bloggers Share Their Top Christmas Destinations" from Brian Ballman. The article is not online at this time.]
I chose to visit Germany in December for these reasons – my family history – my Grandmother grew up 100 years ago in Ruhland, near Dresden, Germany, and after losing my parents a few years ago I needed an extra dose of our family, traditions, and festivities.
|Dresden, Germany Christmas Markets 2014 Picture by Donna West
I love living in the California, I often miss this special time of the season of the outdoor lights, aroma and scents in the freezing cold night air, and festivities of the small communities when growing up in the Middle West USA. I chose this particular German Christmas Market Tour departing Frankfurt with the final destination of Berlin where I stayed an extra week with my cousins many who I never met before in person and walked the sidewalks beside my Grandmother's spirit of a 100 years ago.
|My Grandmother picture I carried on my trip. Donna West
|In side our family church, Ruhland, Germany 100 years -
Picture by Donna West and Cousin
I had the opportunity to see the popular larger markets in towns like Frankfurt, Rothenberg, and Nuremburg. The special likeness about these is that each community has an individuality. For example, Nuremburg is where I eat an unhealthy dose of Lebukuken (gingerbread cookies). I found the smaller communities like Eisenach may have a different regional type of Gluhwein recipe or German sausages. I walked through Wartburg Castle that was decorated with a medieval Christmas setting and saw local merchants selling handmade wares like wooden string puppets and there were outdoor wood fires to keep warm by.
|Architecture and String Puppet Merchant
Inside Wartsburg Castle Picture by Donna West
My favorite is the Dresden Striezelmarkt which is one of the oldest German markets. Perhaps it might be a favorite because I inherited a 1930s black and white postcard from Dresden, Germany looking across the Elbe River at the church and government buildings. I was entranced with the history of Dresden – I enjoyed seeing the historical architecture of the Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera House and the Church of Our Lady even though most of these buildings were destroyed in war. Yet the buildings are now re-created for us to enjoy.
The markets were scattered around these buildings. I discovered many of the small business merchants did not know how to speak English and I learned to use my sign language to communicate as I purchased small treasures and gifts. People were friendly and a kind gentleman who spoke German walked over and helped me talk to one of the merchants. I saw a man, merchant, wind up by hand an old wooden merry-go-round for children to ride on and tasted my first hot white chocolate when I went inside a chocolate store to warm up.
|Wooden Merry-Go-Round, Dresden, Germany 2014 Picture by Donna West
My tip is don’t forget to check the schedule of Christmas pageant music in the newly renovated Church of our Lady. Our group sang holiday songs while riding on the cable car on a Funicular Railway to our dinner on a hilltop overlooking Dresden where we of course saw fabulous views of the city. My favorite memories was the tour of the regional Christmas cake bakery, a Dresdner Stollen bakery and talking with the bakers.
|Tasting Chocolate in Dresden - Donna West
|Warming up from the cold air - Donna West
Fröhliche Weihnachten and ~ My Familienwurzelnand (Family Roots) Stories ~ The Fun Guru Tour