I've spent a few family Christmases in Europe and one of the great joys of a European Christmas is the Christkindlesmarkt. Strung out across the continent like glittery Christmas tree lights, these markets pop up every year in major cities and small towns bringing handmade crafts, ornaments, foods and my favorite tradition...gluhwein to brighten up the dreary days of winter and celebrate the coming of Christmas.
One of my favorite markets is in Strasbourg, a fairytale town in northwest France right on the German border. A little bit French, a little bit German and a whole lot charming, this town boasts a spectacular market dating back to 1570 and claims to have started the whole Christkindlesmarkt thing. The handsome fella above was the bartender of a rotating carousel bar. We hopped aboard for a few spins and a several cups of the famous mulled wine served in a traditional ceramic boot. Getting on was easy, getting off after a few boots was a little trickier!
Wandering among the stalls, pigging out on roasted nuts, German sausages and cheese with a boot of hot, mulled wine in hand is truly one of the greatest pleasures of the European holiday season. But why should Europeans get to have all the fun? If you're lucky enough, a Christkindlesmarkt may have popped up in your city. Chicago boasts a large and authentic one in the middle of downtown (I've been twice this season already!) With collectable mugs for the gluhwein and handicrafts and ornaments imported from Germany, on a snowy day it feels just like being in Strasbourg.
If you can't make it out to a market, it's easy to recreate the fun at home with a simmering pot of your very own gluhwein.
1 bottle red wine
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 orange cut in half
2 cinnamon sticks
In a pot, combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and juice of orange. Push cloves into the skin of the orange and add to the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes until thick and syrupy. Add wine and heat through. Serve in mugs or boots!