Virtual Advent Tour: A Bavarian Winter Wonderland

Munich Market © Tourismusamt München

Munich Market © Tourismusamt München

Taking part in the annual Virtual Advent tour is an absolute joy; it gives people around the world to share their Christmas experiences and traditions. When I last took part, I shared one of my greatest Christmas memories: watching the classic Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road movies. This year, I thought I’d take you to the Christmas heartland and the home of the Advent Calendar… Central Europe.

Christmas Market in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling 2013

Christmas Market in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling 2013

Central Europe – Germany in particular – is the home of Christmas. Most of our modern Christmas traditions were exported from the Germanic principalities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Christmas trees? Wreaths? Advent Calendars? Thank the Germans for those! So, of course, it would make sense for Germany to have the “purest” interpretations of our modern Christmas traditions.

In much of Central Europe, Christmas means Christmas markets, hot mulled wine, meeting friends out in the cold and kitsch-to-some-I-just-call-it-lovely decorations. Throughout my childhood, my mother did her very best to recreate this environment wherever we were in the world. Her family is from Bavaria and it is the definition of Christmas she (and I) grew up with. But as wonderful as at-home decorations can be, nothing beats the “real thing”. So this year, we went to Bavaria and Austria for the Christmas season.

Let me just say this: Munich is the very definition of Christmas. The city is covered in Christmas markets – dozens, literally – that are open every single day of the week, starting in late November and ending at the end of the year. Their Christmas markets date back to the fifteenth century and are as popular now as they were then. They are magical places: happy environments were you’ll find people of every generation. They are where you go with your friends, with your parents, with your children… These markets truly embody the Christmas spirit.

Wonderful Christmas Decorations in Salzburg.

Wonderful Christmas Decorations in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling

While I love Christmas all over the world, I really do think there is something special in the air in Bavaria. As Germanic Christmas traditions have been exported to the rest of the world, visiting the country this time of the year feels rather like stepping into the Christmasland! They capture the Christmas spirit in such a genuine way. It doesn’t feel commercialized or over the top… it’s just people celebrating the turn of the season with the people they love.

Christmas Tree in Marienplatz, Munich  © Dead Book Darling 2013

Christmas Tree in Marienplatz, Munich © Dead Book Darling 2013

I hope this post has introduced a few of you to the magic of Christmas Markets and of Bavarian Christmas. If you can’t jump on a plane, I’d recommend checking out the Virtual Christmas Market tour on the Bavarian tourism site. It’s quite a treat!

Virtual Advent Tour: It’s not Christmas without Bing!

Virtual Advent Tour 2011

Hi! Welcome to Dead Book Darling. I’m Kay, your ghost host for this stop of the Virtual Advent Tour of 2011. This is my first year participating in the tour and, after reading so many great posts by other bloggers, I was rather stumped as to what to post about. So, I thought I’d get back to the basics. Or rather, back to Bing.

You have heard of Bing Crosby even if you haven’t heard of him. He’s the crooner who sang the infamous tune “White Christmas” written by Irving Berlin. Bing’s version of the song is the best-selling single of all time. No matter the decade, people dust off the track for a timeless Christmas singalong.

And while Bing is pretty much a part of everyone’s Christmas tradition, he holds a special place in my mind whenever I think of the holidays. Not because of his roles in the Christmas films Holiday Inn and White Christmas; nor due to his wonderful rendition of the Hawaiian Christmas song “Mele Kalikimaka” (below).

You see, when I think Christmas, I think of the Road films.

The Road films, you ask? The Road films were a series of zany, off-ball comedy films that starred Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour. Despite being made over 50 years ago, they can still have you laughing in the aisles. The films often broke with tradition by having the actor’s address the audience directly – like Bob Hope’s line “[Crosby]’s gonna sing, folks. Now’s the time to go out and get the popcorn.” Heh! They are brilliant films if you haven’t seen any of them, I’d start with Road to Morocco.

Alas, these films have nothing really to do with Christmas. In fact, except for Road to Utopia, all the films are set in rather hot, tropical climates! But these films are attached to a rather special Christmas memory of mine. When I was about 12, my mother and I spent a Christmas together. Er, that sounds weird. What I mean is we spent a Christmas together without any other friends/family/annoying strangers! It was just us and the dogs. And that Christmas we sat down and watched the Road movies.

That was the first time I’d ever seen the films, and I loved every second of them. Moreover, I loved watching them with my mother, the dogs, and the Christmas tree as company. Even though it was a very simple Christmas, it was probably one of my favourites. And now, whenever I think “Happy Holidays” I also think about being off on the road to Morocco…

So, there you have it! For me, it isn’t Christmas without Bing or Bob. If you’re looking for a new movie for your Christmas line-up, try the Road films! Who knows, it might start a whole new tradition…

Happy Christmas everyone!