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A Trip to the Christkindlmarkt

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The Lenape German Club has several wonderful field trips during the school year, but the most popular is definitely the day at the Center City Philadelphia Christkindlmarkt. The activities of the day began with a visit to the Comcast building to watch the laser light show, followed by a lot of window shopping throughout the market itself, and finally, lunch at Brauhaus Schmitz, which is a wonderful, traditional German restaurant.

The Comcast building was definitely a sight to behold: a tall skyscraper with an impressive lobby fit for a real show. After everyone had perused the snack shops on the lower floor, we stood facing the wall opposite the main doors, as it was lit up with hundreds, if not thousands, of LEDs that turned the wood into a giant screen. The show was great, beginning with a snow covered landscape where snowmen attempted to play start the band off with their own (bad) rendition of the theme, followed by a scene from the Nutcracker ballet, a simulation of sledding through snowy woods, dancers jiving to the music, and ending with a family in an old-timey city, bundled up against the cold and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the robot snowmen that would periodically rise from their hiding places to blow soap bubble “snow” all over the audience.

With the light show’s end, we all walked out of the building and made our way to the market itself. The village was set up so that each seller had their own little house/hut to show off their products. Some had all four walls up and only a window to talk to customers, while others had only three walls so that people could walk in and look around. At this point in the day, it was relatively early, so almost nobody had opened up shop yet and the few stores that were open sold things like gloves, scarves, and hats, but nothing truly special.

The main attraction at that point was a large tent that housed Käthe Wohlfahrt, a famous Christmas ornament company. It was there that I bought my mother her Christmas present.

The German students were split into two groups: upperclassmen and underclassmen, so that everyone would have enough time to look around the market and listen to the appointed tour guide as well. The upperclassmen were given the tour in German and the underclassmen in English. Our guide told us the tale of how the Christkind came to be, in addition to several other traditional stories about the German Christmas.

After most of our extremities had frozen off and we had finished our shopping, we high-tailed it back to the bus to get some lunch. Since there were around forty students and two teacher chaperones, we couldn’t exactly all order our own meal, so we dined buffet style. Our selection was small; consisting of German wurst (sausage), spätzle (a form of soft noodle), chicken schnitzel, and potato salad, but it was all delicious nonetheless.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was what made it so enjoyable, and I definitely recommend a visit if you happen to be in Center City Philly. Once our bellies were full, we sang a few typical German Christmas carols, and a few English carols translated into German, before finally heading home.

This was the first time I had gone on the trip to Christkindlmarkt, and I am beyond glad that I did before graduating. I don’t think it would be possible to recreate such an experience with any other group, be it family or friends.

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