Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas in Vienna

The Viennese take Christmas very seriously.  I don't think "Happy Holidays" is part of their seasonal parlance -- "Frohe Weihnachten!" (Merry Christmas!) is the norm. Christmas Markets seem to be everywhere -- the one at the Rathaus being the largest and most touristy among them -- with all manner of souvenirs, artisanal products, food and drink being sold at each.  Glühwein (a warm red wine infused with spices and schnapps) and various flavors of punsch (Orange, Raspberry, Berry, Bailey's, Coconut Rum, Apple, etc.) are de rigueur -- a trip to a Christmas Market without having a mug (or two) seems, well, just wrong. 

Merry Christmas!  (Now please buy an ornament imported from...China.  The other, smaller, Christmas Markets feature products created by local artisans.)

View from across the street.
Viennese Christmas Market located at the Rathaus.  I'd heard that it cost several thousand euro for someone to set up shop at this Christmas Market, thus the mass-produced, non-local items being sold.
Hurry!  The Gluhvein stand is about to close!
 The Christmas spirit isn't limited to the Christmas Markets.  Downtown Vienna steps it up, too. 
 
A Christmas Tree in front of St. Stephensdom (St. Stephens Cathedral).

Christmas lights strung across a street.
Stare long enough and they become hypnotic...
Vienna is a wonderful city day in and day out, but when the Christmas season arrives, it's a...Christmas Miracle!