Christmas market is situated in the small square in front of the Altes Rathaus, where the famous Gänseliesel stands, giving thousands of people the chance to walk through the narrow streets of the market and buy souvenirs and gifts. The visitors try Gluhwein, a warmed wine which constitutes the traditional German winter drink, and taste wurst bursts, curry wurst, crepes and noodles.
Ioannis Ntountoumis │ firstname.lastname@example.org
To me, Christmas means cold weather, snow, friends, parties, traditions and family time. This year finds me in Istanbul where I am doing my internship, away from home, in very odd and different circumstances. We are already in the middle of December, but still I have not yet realized that the Christmas period has already started in countries where the celebration constitutes one of the main events of the year. In Turkey, unfortunately, the only places that remind me of Christmas are the Starbucks, where one can listen to some Christmas songs, or on Facebook, where people upload Christmas wishes, songs and photos. Apart from that though, nothing prepares us for the upcoming celebrations.
Occasions like this make me recall memories from the past; in particular this year, the Christmas time I spent in Goettingen, Germany last year where I spent the first semester of my MA Euroculture studies.
Goettingen is an original fairy tale place, not a village but a small city in the middle of Germany. Its centre is filled with traditional old German-type buildings. It has an ideal cold climate in December which, in comparison to other German cities, is not too cold and the weather does not prevent people from walking around the city centre decorated with Christmas lights. However, what makes the Christmas period in Goettingen so special is the pretty and small Christmas market, the so-called Weihnachtsmarkt.
The Christmas market last year opened its ‘gates’ on 28 November and offered a perfect transition into the Christmas celebration. Its shops are situated in the most unique place of Goettingen for occasions like this: the small square in front of the Altes Rathaus, where the famous Gänseliesel stands, giving thousands of people the chance to walk through the narrow streets of the market and buy souvenirs and gifts. The visitors have the chance to try Gluhwein, a warmed wine which constitutes the traditional German winter drink, and taste wurst bursts, curry wurst, crepes and noodles.
The first time I found myself at the Christmas market was after a tiring but always fruitful Euroculture day. It was a nice night and my classmates and I walked around the market and the narrow streets with well-decorated, small shops. We tried Gluhwein and followed tempting smells to taste some food.
I was lucky enough to visit other cities and their Christmas markets as well. During a visit to the European House in Hannover with my Euroculture class, we visited the local Christmas market and the really nice Weihnachtsmarkt in Braunschweig. Lying under the city’s cathedrals the Christmas markets welcome people of all ages to enjoy this special celebration and prepare themselves for the upcoming Christmas.
The Euroculture Programme offered us a Christmas note as well. Also, some fellow classmates took the initiative and organised a “Secret Santa”. It took place after class one day in conjunction with a “Mediterranean night” where we had the opportunity to taste dishes made by our Mediterranean classmates. It was also a farewell party before the break.
Goettingen’s Christmas market closed some days before Christmas, and the celebrations were moved to student dormitories and houses. However, the streets of the city, especially during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, remained crowded and fireworks contributed to an ideal celebratory occasion.
Even though Christmas markets and celebrations like the one described above exist in many European cities and countries, Christmas in Goettingen and its market next to Gänseliesel has been my favourite. Now that I am in Istanbul, I really miss the feeling of Christmas. I miss the songs, houses decorated with lights and Christmas trees, Gluhwein, the walks around the market, the Euroculture “Secret Santa”, and the atmosphere full of joy.
Christmas in Goettingen was an experience unlike any I have ever had: an original, fairy tale experience. And now that I do not have the chance to celebrate it like I did last year, I realise how much it has changed my ideas about how I want to spend my Christmas time from now on.
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Ioannis Ntountoumis, Contributing writer
Ioannis was born in Athens and studied Political Science and History at Panteion University. He is studying MA Euroculture at the University of Goettingen in Germany and Uppsala University in Sweden, andis currently doing an internship at the Greek Consulate in Istanbul. He is interested in International Relations, European Affairs, the History of Politics and Peace and Conflict Resolution. He loves sports, travelling and does not believe strictly in one dogma or ideology in order to leave space in his mind for new ideas and thoughts.