In America, we have holidays and we have drinking holidays. In Germany, because they’ve a more lenient attitude towards libations, there’s no distinction between the two. Putting the word “drinking” in front of “holiday” is superfluous; it’s understood that alcohol will be involved. New Year’s Eve and Oktoberfest, of course, are boozy affairs but the good people of Deutschland don’t stop there, there’s nary a German celebration devoid of good drink—including Christmas.
The German preference for a wet Christmas began in the 14th Century with the Christkindl (“Christ child”) markets. The traditional markets began utilitarian enough as a simple means of procuring food and seasonal essentials such as blankets, fire wood, and anything else needed to endure the winter. It was all business, no fun.
To get into the festive spirit, the markets were jazzed-up a bit. People started selling Christmas ornaments, hand-made toys, and other items that, while not vital for survival, made for a merrier atmosphere. Carolers were introduced to help spread holiday cheer. Musicians and dancers became prominent features. Specialty food vendors popped up selling Rostbratwuerste (charcoal-grilled sausages), Lebkuchen (gingerbread biscuits), Brataepfel (baked apples), Gebrannte Mandeln (roasted almonds), Maronen (roasted chestnuts), Marzipanbrot (Marzipan shaped like a loaf of bread), and Stollen (Christmas bread with dried fruits, nuts, spices, and sugar icing). True to the German form, it didn’t take long before alcohol was involved. Most notably Gluehwein: mulled red wine heated and spiced with any number of ingredients like cinnamon, anise, clove, et al.
Thanks to the German American Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Chapter (GACC-CO)—the same organization behind Morrison’s Biergarten Festival—the essence of Christkindl can be experienced in the heart of Denver at the 14th Annual Denver Christkindl Market hosted in Skyline Park at the corner of Arapahoe St. and 16th Street Mall. If you’ve never been, it promises to be the most authentic German Christmas celebration this side of The Rhineland. Visit the market for its impressive line-up of entertainers, its food vendors offering a veritable feast of traditional fare, its crafters selling unique Euro-centric gifts, and, obviously, its adult beverages.
In addition to Gluehwein, Paulaner HP USA will also be serving their Hefeweizen, Pilsner, Märzen, and Hacker-Pschorr Dunkel in the Holiday Tent. A few steins of good German beer will do much to fortify guests against the chill of a Colorado winter but please, for your own safety, reserve the imbibing for after the skating rink. And don’t drink too much and make an ass of yourself, either; Heilige Nikolaus is watching you.
Drop by the Denver Christkindl Market from November 21st to December 23rd.
Sunday through Thursday: 11am – 7pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am – 9pm
*Closes at 4pm on Thanksgiving*