Although I did not spend Christmas in Vienna this visit, I did get to participate in one Christmas tradition - Christkindlmarkt - the Christmas Market.
In December, there are Christmas Markets all over Vienna - a tradition that goes back to the early 17th century. It's a outdoor market with lots of booths selling all manner of things: roasted chestnuts, wursts (sausages), gingerbread, pastries galore, candies, toys of all sorts, and other gift items. There is also entertainment, craft and other activities for kids, ponies to ride, christmas decorations.
Viennese visit these markets all during December, trying to visit them all. We went one evening, and it was jammed with people. The whole family comes - and they come in the evenings. We saw the "Christmas angel" who was accompanied by musicians and dancing throughout the crowd. Children loved her - I think she brings toys to Austrian children during the Christmas season. Not to be confused with ChristKindl, who is similar to Santa Claus and comes on Christmas Eve. There were also horses that look like our Clydesdales, full of bells, dancing through the crowds and amazingly not crushing any children. Maple made a candle at a crafts booth and was quite proud of herself. It was a wonderful, festive experience - and to think these people do it every night for a month! Sure beats going to the mall or WalMart.
Every market has hot alcoholic drinks of two varieties - spiced punch and mulled wine. You will hardly ever see a paper cup in Vienna. When you buy a drink at a market, it comes in a commemorative ceramic cup, included in the price. If you bring it back, they refund your deposit. The Christmas drinks are legendary - and most necessary. All this activity takes place outside - and it is VERY cold! This little Natchez girl was freezing her buns off - in spite of all manner of cold weather gear. But when I was drinking that punch, it warmed me all over - and it was delicious - full of spices and flavoring with berries at the bottom. YUM! Unfortunately, I could only drink one - because they are very powerful. The Viennese stay out there for hours, so I figure they must be able to hold their liquor a lot better than I can.
Here we are - Halane, Maple, and I - all bundled up, strolling down the street. Scott took the picture and is pushing Adele's stroller, where she can be zipped into fur.