Monday, December 16, 2013

Austrian Bed and Breakfast owner discovers a Christmas market in Kiwiland - sort of

Monday, December 16, 2013
oldbearnews editor

Remember the show "The vicar from Dibly" and the Character that used to always answer any question with "nonono no no yes" ??  Well in this vain it was "yes yes yes - no"

Let me explain - today while browsing the news paper in Christchurch, New Zealand I came across a little insert -
titled "Outside" Riccarton Christmas market opens tonight - 4pm-7pm.


Christmas market - gluewein/ roasted chestnuts / stands with christmas tree decorations / toys / various christmas themed nick-knacks gifts / freshly cut Christmas pine trees Christmas lights all over the stands and houses and so forth. Other popular attractions at the market include the Nativity Scene (a crèche or crib), Zwetschgenmännle (figures made of decorated dried plums), Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), Bratwurst, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market: Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg-based warm alcoholic drink).

Both help stave off the cold winter air which sometimes dips below freezing. More regional food specialities include Christstollen (Stollen), a sort of egg bread with candied fruit in Saxony, and hot Apfelwein and Frankfurter Bethmännchen in Hesse. Many other handmade items, toys, books, Christmas tree decorations and ornaments (and in recent years less useful gadgets) can be found at a Christmas Market.

These markets originated in Germany, Austria, South Tyrol, North Italy and Alsace but are now being held in many other countries. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. Dresden's Strietzelmarkt was first held in 1434. The Christmas markets of Bautzen (first held in 1384),  Frankfurt (first mentioned in 1393) and Munich (1310) were even older. The Vienna "December market" was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294!!

In many towns in Germany and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas market or "Weihnachtsmarkt". In southern Germany and Austria it is sometimes called a "Christkind(e)l(s)markt" (German language, literally meaning "Christ child market"). Generally held in the town square and adjacent pedestrian zones, the market sells food, drink, and seasonal items from open-air stalls, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. On opening nights (and in some towns more often) onlookers welcome the "Christkind" (originally boy Jesus, but more often depicted as an angel-like girl), acted out by a local child.

If you been to a Christkindlmarkt in Europe you will understand what I mean.

So yes -I  was excited - thinking that it finally made it here as well.

It was quickly agreed that mamabear would finish work just a few minutes before her usual leaving time - pick me up and we head to Riccarton.
Now I know - we are on the other side of the world and there are a few teeny weeny minor glitches - the wrong season for one.

A; it does not get dark here until 9.30pm or so
B; it usually is summer - so temp's in the evening will still be around 20 degrees.

We knew it will not have the same atmosphere as in Europe - you could never ever replicate this here.  Who would want to eat hot roasted chestnuts or drink a hot "Glühwein" here (known as Mulled wine) on a hot summers night?? Well I may have been tempted just for nostalgia’s sake.
To cut a long story short - we went there. Let me tell you - it was a complete waste of time.
The half dozen or so stands there sold various ornaments / hand crafted things from silk or wool a couple of foodie places, plus the usual takeout food (greek and something Asian)
From anything Christmas related - no sign in any shape or form.
In fact the only thing with Christmas in (or with it) would have been the title in the news paper advert.  Hmmm wonder if this could be construed as misleading advertizing????

Still it wasn’t a complete loss - we did get to sit on a park bench and enjoy the ducks and have a nice relaxed chat in the late afternoon sun.
So indeed it was a case of "yes yes yes  yes - no!!"

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