How German is Edinburgh’s Christmas Market?

Photo Credit: Silja Froehlich

Photo Above: Edinburgh Christmas Market © Silja Froehlich

By Silja Froelich

Edinburgh these days feels like strolling through Santa Claus’ winter wonderland. Blinking trees, gift ribbon decorated houses and sparkling light chains illuminate the town. Once again, Edinburgh’s Christmas market opens its doors, adding extra glow to Scotland’s capital.

The market takes place alongside George Street and Princes Street, with attractions like the ice rink monument bar at St Andrew Square or Santa Land at East Princes Street Gardens, attracting thousands of visitors.

Photo Above: Christmas Market © Silja Froehlich

Reminiscent of the typical German Christmas Market, dozens of huts offer German food and drinks, including Glühwein or Schupfnudeln with Sauerkraut. Vendors dressed up in Bavarian manner, with a huntsman’s hat, scarf and leather vest, sell imported sausages of all kinds and ‘Kassler’ to go, a salted and slightly smoked slice of pork.

Skye Class, who works in the market Farmhouse, loves dressing up as a Bavarian and selling imported products from Germany:

“Germany sets the world stage for Christmas. This country, among others, has the oldest Christmas traditions. The Germans have different things they sell in their stalls: Bratwurst, mulled wine, cakes and waffles. It is just tradition. It has its root and antiquity.”

Photo Above: German Meat Shop © Silja Froehlich

Christmas markets are one of those German traditions that have been adopted by many countries, including China and the United States. The first Christmas market dates back to 1384, where it was founded in Bautzen, East Germany. It is said to be the oldest Christmas market in the German-speaking area. The first UK Christmas market was established in Lincoln in 1982, while Edinburgh’s made its debut in 1999.

This is the first time Skye has worked on the Edinburgh Christmas market and he loves the mood:

“You just get into the German Christmas spirit. We have German sausages, all recipes of waffles and Pretzels are German. We have Germans coming here saying: ‘Oh my God, that tastes just like it does in Germany’.”

He also thinks it is great that the Christmas market will run from 17 November 2017 to 7 January 2018:

“There is not that much going on between the Fringe Festival in September and the Christmas market here in Edinburgh. So it is great for all the people, and Edinburgh is just the perfect city. It has the atmosphere of a Winter town, especially at this time of the year.”

German women Leonie Beiter, Ronja Mayer, Anna Weiss and Meike Mueller are visiting the Edinburgh Christmas market for the first time. What caught Leonie’s eye were all the lights scattered over the little huts:

It gives the market a really nice romantic atmosphere which reminded me of home. I was quite surprised that most of the food huts were all specialised in German food, and I’m talking about good proper German Schnupfnudeln and nice salty Bretzeln.

However, Leonie and Anna both feel some of the attractions are not in the spirit of Christmas:

“I’ve never seen so many big rides at a Christmas market, it reminded me a bit of a fun fair.”

“I don’t really like the fun fair character of the market, it does not really spread Christmas mood.”

Anna appreciated the local specialities though, especially the hot cider, and Ronja congratulated the organisers on doing a good job in creating a German Christmas market:

“It would have been more authentic to have more regional products – no German sausages.”

Meike expected it to be for tourists, with low quality products being sold, but she was pleasantly surprised:

“Especially when it is dark, the Christmas market pours on its charm and invites to a nice evening with your friends.”