In less than a week, I’ll board a plane that will take me off the island and drop me in the middle of a Christmas wonderland. Every year I go to Nuremberg for Christmas, and this year I will stay even longer to enjoy all the treats at the Christmas market and drink all the mulled wine possible. Nuremberg is not only the town I am from and where my family lives but also home to a pretty decent and pretty old Christmas Market.
One of the best things about the Christmas Market is the smell of the mulled wine and the treats they sell. And because I am very much looking forward to that, I thought I list a couple of things that you must try when visiting Nuremberg during Christmas time. And they come with a long tradition as the market does. So you are not just enjoying yourself, but you are also treating yourself with a piece of history.
A Cup of Glühwein or Kinderpunsch
No Christmas Market visit can be completed without having a cup of mulled wine or punch (alcohol-free mulled wine). I repeat because it’s essential: NO VISIT! Why? Because of Baby, it is cold outside, and the wine warms your insights and makes you feel happy like a child again. That is crucial for a visit to the Christmas Market.
In Nuremberg, you can get it everywhere on the Christkindlsmarkt in designated cups that are usually shaped like a boot. Remember that you have to pay a deposit for each cup, you will get it back when you return it. If you do not bring it back, you get a nice souvenir. If you want to as original as possible and not get a headache the next day, this is the mulled wine you should try: GERSTACKER Nürnberger Christkindles Markt-Glühwein. There is also a blueberry mulled wine, which is a tiny bit sweeter.
The traditional mulled wine is red, that is heated up and fermented with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and more. Kinderpunsch is basically the same but without alcohol. By the way, it can be made at home as well. At the Christmas Market, you can get a cup for around 3€. So have a zip, listen to some carols, and enjoy the Christmas spirit.
Lebkuchen – Nuremberg Gingerbread
And this Christmas treat might even be more important than the mulled wine. I know, right? The Lebkuchen are very similar to gingerbread and have a really long tradition. These cakes/cookies, made out of honey, nuts, and spices go back to the early middle ages (13th century) by Franconian monks and were used as ornaments and special treats for kids.
They are that important to the history and tradition that I learned about them in school. And this is what I learned and recall, because let’s face it school was a long time ago:
An emperor in the 15th century held a Reichstag (first event of his rule) of his in Nuremberg, and he invited the children of the city. He held a special reception for them and apparently gave each kid one Lebkuchen with his portrait on it. Those were a lot of children. So he gave a lot of work to the Lebküchner. Yes, that was and is a profession in the city. Now the treats are mostly prepared in factories. Still, back in the day, the Lebküchner were important people in the city and members of the baker’s guild.
This special treat came to life due to the position of the city, as they were part of popular trading routes, they had access to a lot of rare spices and nuts. Honey was easy to get in Nuremberg. There were a lot of beehives in the city due to the close-by forest. The Lebkuchen do not get bad that quickly. Which is why my dad takes them on his tours to the alps. And the merchants would take them on their long journeys to the markets in the east.
The most popular and iconic gingerbreads are the so-called Elisenlebkuchen. And yes, you guessed it, they also come with a story. This is more of a myth, but yeah, I also learned about that in school. There are a lot of stories about Nuremberg, and that might be a good idea for another blog post.
ANYWAY, Elisen Lebkuchen are supposed to be called after the daughter of a gingerbread maker that had a very severe illness. The smart baker came up with a special Lebkuchen using the oriental spices and not using any flour. And the girl recovered quickly. She might have just been gluten intolerant after all. So if we take that seriously, gingerbread is even healthy. I like to believe that.
Additionally, there are many other things you should try on the market like sugar-coated almonds, Nürnberger Allerlei (another gingerbread relative), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) and of course mulled wine candy.
Enjoy these typical treats, and let me know if you liked them.