Tell most people here that you’ve been to Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, and one of the first things they will say is “Oh the Christmas Market is amazing there” – and by all accounts it is supposed to be one of the best… Undoubtedly the stalls are full of the usual bewitching and waist line expanding goods, but to be honest I think they could get away with exclusively selling fridge magnets and people would still rave about it with a back drop like that!
If you can’t make it here in December, fear not! Big fans of the season of joy and goodwill will be pleased to hear that the festivities are not just limited to late November and December in this part of the world – Rothenburg is one of the few places that likes to trick you into thinking it’s Christmas all year around.
Let me start with snowballs, or should that be schneeballen? Not of the ice and snow (and usually tiny pebble) variety in this instance, but of fried dough – and quite the speciality of the region they are too… They come in around 50,000 different flavours (slight exaggeration!)! From the original (my favourite!) dusted in sugar and cinnamon – to the cream filled/chocolate coated “high-end” version. We had walked past a few bakeries selling them, but finally relented to the pleas at this particular place…
When Small Girl was very small, she had a vast selection of imaginary friends (we’ve had quite a few guests of this kind – some of them more troublesome than others), and as time has gone past, she has often wistfully wondered what became of her once loyal friends (having since discounted their original disappearance theory!), and whilst sadly we are not sure what “Dollar” is up to nowadays, it pleased her greatly to see that Diller is very successful, and quite the baker he has turned out to be…
Snowballs consumed and Christmas mood slightly reawakened, what else was there to do but visit the nearby Museum of Christmas? Yes, this did feel more than odd in the middle of May, but it isn’t huge and is (I think) worth the visit if you are interested in the history of such things. And this places covers the history of Christmas from the earliest days to modern times.
It was here that we learned about the meanings of some of our fondest (and often strangest) Christmas traditions. Did you know for example that tinsel harks back to the 16th century and was once made out of real silver? Or that Christmas tree lights were around at the turn of last century and were invented by someone who worked for Thomas Edison? It’s all here! We marvelled at the oldest artificial trees (that must have been impressive once upon a time) and witnessed how the first baubles were made. The smaller members of our party thanked their lucky stars that Father Christmas is a lot less frugal nowadays, and constantly asked their mother awkward questions about why she was saying “awww” alot, and looking a little misty eyed (no doubt helped by the choir singing nostalgic Christmas Carols in the background – they always make me cry!). It was kind of hard to explain why, but I just found something very touching about the festive hopes and dreams of generations past.
And if you are still in a Christmassy mood after your visit, you can always go downstairs to the enormous shop and take your pick from the masses of decorations – the beautiful, the traditional, and then the not so!…
I spoke to an assistant (busy adjusting the giant tree in the middle of the shop) and asked her whether it actually really felt like Christmas when December finally came around… She assured me that it did, but you really would have to love it to work here wouldn’t you?
Dillers Schneeballen, Hofbronnengasse 16, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber (they have two more nearby!)
Deutches Weihnactsmuseum, Herngasse 1, 91541 Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber