Vienna Christmas Market at Rathausplatz
Christmas has always held a special place in my heart. While the reason has changed over the years, my fondness hasn’t. Growing up in California, my traditions were driving around looking at all the houses decorated with lights and decking out my tree in ornaments with my family. More often than not, you could find me dressed in just a shirt. I loved every minute of that, but the magic wore off past childhood.
Across the pond in Europe, things are much different. Chestnuts roasting over an open fire are actually a thing and not simply a lyric. Eggnog is replaced by mulled wine. Most important to me, Christmas markets can be found all over the place. In large cities, you might need two or more hands to count all the different markets. Vienna has an astonishing 13! Typically located in front of a historic church, these markets have all the most important things you might want to look for. Food, drinks, pastries, ornaments, and more are all unique to the city or region’s specialties. The sights, smells, and overall atmosphere brings me back to the magical feeling the holiday evoked as a child.
I've been lucky enough to experience a number of different markets in my two Christmases spent in Europe. Super religious Sevilla had a ridiculous amount of small figurines for your nativity scene. Budapest's freshly baked chimney cakes are as good as they are Instagram ready. I'll let you look up Barcelona's Caga Tió and figure that out for yourself. Come to Austria and you may find something that can only be matched by nearby Germany.
The ornaments I found at the market on Rathausplatz in Vienna were varied and plentiful. Elephants, polar bears, cupcakes, cars, a wide variety of Santas, and more, these handmade decorations had no limits. No matter your interest, there's surely something that will catch your eye. I must’ve perused each small ornament stall for at least 15 minutes as my eye bounced off one ornament to the next. In the end, I selected one that was unquestionably handmade: a shark.