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This story was ready to hit the press on Christmas Eve but because of wifi issues onboard our river cruise, the photos could not be uploaded. 

It’s Christmas Eve in Passau, Germany. My mom and I are breaking tradition to enjoy a European holiday via a river cruise that stops everyday in charming towns along the Danube. This is a special time of year because the Christmas Markets, or Christkindlmarkt, light up and give warmth to the cold, bringing family and friends together to celebrate the season.

A spectacular backdrop for these festive markets.

A spectacular backdrop for these festive markets.

Huddled together sharing good food, good drink and good times.

Huddled together sharing good food, good drink and good times.

All you need to keep warm is a mug of Glühwein, a hot spiced red wine and brandy concoction with the optional spike of rum. Everything is really happy after just one of these!

All you need to keep warm is a mug of Glühwein, a hot spiced red wine and brandy concoction with the optional spike of rum. Everything is really happy after just one of these!

These stands dominate the markets. I loved their display of mugs.

These stands dominate the markets. I loved their display of mugs.

The Christmas markets date back to as early as 1294, the first markets taking place in Germany and Austria. The medieval markets provided the warmth of fires, supplies such as hats, gloves and coats, pots of hot soup and I’m sure plenty of warm drink. This was a gathering place for camaraderie and merriment.

Bratwurst is the king of Bavaria. Three skinny grilled sausages are served in a rye bread bun, slathered with local spicy mustard and a heaping of sauerkraut. It's delicious!

Bratwurst is the king of Bavaria. Three skinny grilled sausages are served in a rye bread bun, slathered with local spicy mustard and a heaping of sauerkraut. It’s delicious!

These two guys are serious about their brats!

These two guys are serious about their brats!

The grill Meister at work.

The grill Meister at work.

Nuremburg all dressed up for the holidays.

Nuremburg all dressed up for the holidays.

Nutcracker Suite.

Nutcracker Suite.

These traditional Bavarian figures made of walnuts and prunes date have their origins in the 17th century.

These traditional Bavarian figures made of walnuts and prunes have their origins in the 17th century.

The artisans that display their work here all unite to recreate the feel of the Middle Ages and what may have been the handcrafts of the time. Decorated stalls of handmade ornaments of straw and wood, beeswax candles, all forms of angels, toys, intricate wooden silhouettes, traditional cookies and strudel line the streets.

Star lights illuminate the night and bring color and art to life.

Star lights illuminate the night and bring color and art to life.

Gingerbread is an old recipe that originally was made with just flour, honey and spices. It has remained a favorite cookie, each baker presenting their own flair for design.

Gingerbread is an old recipe that originally was made with just flour, honey and spices. It has remained a favorite cookie, each baker presenting their own flair for design.

Her beauty caught my eye.

Her beauty caught my eye.

Warm, freshly roasted chestnuts are the perfect accompaniment to the drinks.

Warm, freshly roasted chestnuts are the perfect accompaniment to the hot drinks.

So many ornaments! These are artfully carved of wood and each is different from the next.

So many ornaments! These are artfully carved of wood and each is different from the next.

This is a Germknodel Kirsch. A large soft roll, stuffed with cherries and doused with hot vanilla cream.

This woman putting the finishing touches on a Germknodel Kirsch. A large soft roll, stuffed with cherries and doused with hot vanilla cream.

Decadence at its finest!

Decadence at its finest!

Another favorite, cherry and apple strudel.

Another favorite, cherry and apple strudel.

This gold angel is a symbol of the Nuremburg Christmas.

This gold angel is a symbol of the Nuremburg Christmas.

Loving the Gluhwein, again! An instant warm up!

Loving the Glühwein, again! An instant warm up!

DSCN5454Wishing you a Merry Christmas, filled with love and joy. Listen always to your heart and always believe!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Buon Natale!

Joyeux Noël!

Love,

Mary