Picking Your Treasured Trinkets
The Europe Christmas markets! A European Christmas Market river cruise is the perfect way to combine a fabulous vacation with some holiday shopping. Browsing the charming stalls in each port, you can find trinkets for everyone on your list. And, you will take great pride when friends and family open your spirited gifts!
Looking For Hats?
In Germany, Bavaria's well-known brimmed hats (with decorative feathers or edelweiss flowers) will come to mind. But, it doesn't stop there. Christmas markets around Europe provide a wide selection of head-toppers. For example, in Budapest, Slovakia and Austria, a fur trimmed brim is popular. Maybe you want a matching scarf and gloves; no problem! Hat stands come fully stocked. It will be hard not to be tempted to pick up a few things for yourself!
Religious statuettes and meticulously hand-carved dioramas are plentiful in Europe, where there's a church on just about every street corner. There are endless varieties and styles of nativity sets available, which could make for a fun collection or unique gifts for your religious friends. Even if you're not particularly religious, it's hard to keep from marveling at the craftsmanship of these precious scenes.
Things On A String
Not just ornaments! You'll find all kinds of sparkling, intriguing and even fragrant objects attached to strings and hanging from most Christmas market stands. A favorite is garlands of orange peel, cinnamon, and various dried fruits and flowers that give off an invigorating perfume. Wooden lanterns in Salzburg, Austria hang glowing along the stands. Ornate votive candle holders on chains glimmer in the sun, and tiny dolls and critters playfully sway on strings in the winter air.
Perhaps best known in Vienna (where there's an entire tree with red hearts glowing warmly from its bare branches), heart-shaped cookies are a holiday tradition for locals. Saccharine phrases scrawled on gingerbread (known in German-speaking countries as lebkuchen) in pastel icing translate to phrases like "Merry Christmas" or "I love you." The cookies are plastic-wrapped and will survive a flight, so they're a sturdier bet than other confections.
In an increasingly tech-savvy world, it's refreshing to find a handmade toy without a touchscreen, button or automation in sight. Whether you're snatching them up for display or gifting them to children, Old World toys, such as marionettes, might remind you of a simpler time when things were made with artistry from wood and paint. Nutcrackers for sale in local markets are as varied as the people who buy them.