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Marzipan Pigs

The first time I received a marzipan pig was at a hotel in Budapest. My husband and I returned to our hotel room early one evening and noticed a cheerful pink pig. We were already amused about the different holiday customs and confusing (to us) language, so receiving a pig was just one more delightful […]

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Kolner Weihnachtsmarkt, or Cologne’s Christmas Markets

If you visit only one Christmas market in this part of Europe, make it Cologne’s. When I saw how crowded Cologne’s Christmas markets were, I wasn’t surprised that its four main markets attract over two million visitors a year. Cologne has the best Christmas markets I’ve seen thus far in Europe. The wares were diverse […]

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Bonner Weihnachtsmarktes, or Bonn’s Christmas Markets

Bonn’s Christmas markets sprawl throughout the city center, across the main squares Münsterplatz and Friedensplatz and streets Bottlerplatz, Windeckstrasse, and Vivatsgasse. It’s very convenient that they’re all adjacent, especially when it’s raining like it was when I visited! 170+ wooden chalets offer local crafts, toys, decorative items, sweets and other gift items. There’s no shortage […]

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Winterlights 2012, Luxembourg’s Christmas Market

One of the things I like about the Christmas season over here is that it’s less about the malls and more about traditions, festivities and social gatherings. Here, gifts are exchanged, but not at the same competitive, all-out pace that pollutes the U.S. The Christmas markets are a place for neighbors to gather and share […]

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Trierer Weihnachtsmarkt, or Trier’s Christmas Market

Trier’s Christmas market has a pleasant array of appealing vendors in its 95 stands. You’d be hard-pressed not to find some gifts. The booths offer decorative items, candles, ceramics and wooden and glass crafts, knitwear and wooden toys. Trier, Germany’s oldest town, is located about half an hour from Luxembourg. For more of its history, […]

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Nancy’s Marché de Noël

Unless you’re dying to see Nancy in December, don’t bother wasting your time with this market. The main part is set up in Place Maginot and there’s a modest row of stands with mediocre goods and appealing food. We especially liked the macaroons and sables. Over near the Marché (an enticing, huge indoor market with […]

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Speculoos

Living in Europe, I’ve become a huge speculoos fan! What is speculoos? It’s a thin, crunchy, spiced shortcrust biscuit. Traditionally, speculoos was only baked around Christmastime, especially on the eve of Saint Nicholas; now, they are available year-round. Speculoos became popular when medieval crusaders brought back exotic spices like nutmeg, cardamom and ginger from the […]

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Artistic Fir Trees in Place du Grand Sablon, Brussels

I was delighted to come upon this enchanting forest of artistic trees in Brussels’ Place du Grand Sablon. The beautiful, creative objects were designed by students at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts, La Cambre, Brussels’ visual arts school, and each tree was sponsored by a local retailer. Each sculpture is so original. I took photos […]

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Plaisirs d’hiver, or Winter Wonders, Brussels

The Brussels Christmas Market is one of the largest in Europe. Over 250 stands spread over 2 kilometers vie for your attention and your wallet. Since it is one of the well-regarded markets, I had high hopes but was disappointed with the offerings. Some of the usual suspects are here: jewelry, scarves, Christmas ornaments, candles […]

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Christmas in Brussels

The Electronic Fir is the best fake Christmas tree I’ve ever seen! If you’re going to forgo the real thing, you might as well go big. The 24-meter tall light installation that currently adorns Brussels’ Grand Place was created by Paris-based architects Pier Schneider and Francois Wunschel. The structure’s steel frame is covered with wood […]

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