I don't know if you get a bit Bah Humbug! in the run up to Christmas, for me it feels as though there is way too much pressure to spend money. Maybe it is my age but it all can feel horribly commercial and lacking in, well, lacking something. So, here's how I got my festive mojo back.
Wrap yourself up warm and sniff the air, first, a heady mix of warm spiced wine; Ghluwein is served throughout the day to keep the frost from the extremities. every booth seems to have it's own special recipe.
|Nom Nom Nom|
Now look around, it's dusk and hundreds of lights sparkle, in the trees above you, around the wooden stalls, and everywhere is beautifully, colourfully decorated. In all we visited five markets during my visit.
The highlights for me were candy stalls full of sweets half remembered from childhood, the many artisan stalls selling genuinely hand made and lovely gifts; the brush makers booth with hand made brushes for every conceivable chore from brushing snow to cleaning out a pipe and many I had never seen before; ranging in size from almost doll house scale to, dare you to try and lift it, giant size.
|Glass decorations, how to choose!|
In Cologne every district has a market and we nearly visited them all. Petra and I discovered a mutual love and indeed stamina for continuous shopping.
I could have easily spent serious money at the vintage and antiques booths. I learned a lot about the many traditional foods, raisin breads and stollen, biscuits and savouries and about the long held traditions that make these markets so special.
|Cologne with bells on!|
I love 4711 Eau de Cologne, have used it since forever and don't much care if it seems old fashioned, I just love the refreshing scent. So it was great to visit the home of 4711 in a side street. Right on cue the clock chimed, toy soldiers on horseback emerged and the bells chimed out a Christmas carol, enchanting.
I also discovered their new range of scents bringing the brand right up to date, to become the go to perfumery for anyone in need of a gorgeous Cologne.
The Acqua Colonia range has delicious scents, Pink pepper and Grapefruit, Blood Orange and Basil, Mandarin and Cardomom and Lemon and Ginger. We smelled divine for the rest of the day!
|The Nativity Window. The Dom, Cologne.|
So, there it is, how Christmas should be celebrated with dear friends, good food, beautifully made crafts, and a rich sense of tradition that is completely heartwarming.
As I wrap up the treats I brought home for everyone, ready to go under the tree, this year it really does feel good to be celebrating Christmas.