November 14, 2012

The sweetest German tradition: the Advent Calendar and more

One of the things I enjoy most in Germany prior Christmas is the tradition of the Christmas/Advent Calendars. 

Although you may think that this is something just for kids, it is not. Most of my friends receive one of these Calendars every year from their girlfriends/husbands/etc. And if you check in the stores: many of the available options are also targeting adults with a sweet tooth.

In 2012 the Advent time runs from Sunday 2nd to Sunday 23rd December. However the commercial (sweet) versions of the Advent Calendar begin on December 1st until December 24th December.

These sweet Calendars, in case you have never seen one: are rectangular chocolate boxes that do not open but instead have 24 small windows that break/open and are filled with hidden sweets or chocolates. 

They also sell sets of 24 small cute cloth bags each one representing a day that you can fill with whatever you want: small gifts, notes/photos, messages, chocolates, etc. 

You can find a wide range of these calendars almost everywhere in Munich with prices that rank from 4€ to over 30€ (for the most exclusive ones). The Kaufhof and Karlstadt are the usual places to go but there are also sold in beauty and drugstores like Müller (in the toy section) and in small candy shops spread across the city. 

The manufacturers are getting smarter every year and want to reach other consumer segments beyond the children and therefore there are even Advent Calendars filled with beauty products or football merchandising.

But the sweet treats at Christmas do not end with the Advent Calendar: 
  • The “Baumkuchen” which I understand are very popular in Japan they also have a space in the Munich grocery shelves; 
  • The “Lebkuchen” which is the German Christmas cake par excellence;
  • The “Spekulatis” biscuits are originally from Belgium/Holland (I first enjoyed one “Speculoos” during my time living in Antwerp) but you can find them everywhere here in Munich;
  • And at the many street stalls (or at the Christmas markets) they sell roasted chestnuts/ almonds, other caramel coated nuts; fruit pieces dipped in hot chocolate; etc.

The Christmas markets will open in less than two weeks here in Munich (they are already setting them up) so if you happen to be in the city then and you want to know where to go, check the official site of Munich for a list of all of them with descriptions of their history and offer. 

Do you know any other traditional sweet treats from Munich/Bayern?