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Munich Christmas market | © Gellinger / Pixabay
Munich Christmas market | © Gellinger / Pixabay
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The Best Authentic Souvenirs to Buy From Germany's Christmas Markets

Picture of Evelyn Smallwood
Updated: 3 November 2017
A 45-minute Instagram slideshow aside, one of the best ways share a bit of warmth and twinkle of an evening spent at a German Christmas market with your friends and family back home is to bring back some souvenirs. Here’s our list of what to look for.

Anything wooden

The far east Erzebirge region of Germany, tucked next to the Czech border, has been making wooden Christmas decorations for centuries. When the Iron Curtain came down, these workshops came back on the scene and are now the source of nearly all the quality wooden Christmas things. Handmade quality pieces take a lot of time to create, so they cost a lot – no, more than that. It’s up to you to determine if the ‘Made in Germany’ stamp is worth the premium.

Christmas Pyramid at Konstanz Christmas Market | © LenDog64 / Flickr
Christmas Pyramid at Konstanz Christmas Market | © LenDog64 / Flickr

Nativity figurines

Buy the entire nativity scene, the basic crib-crêche-nativity trio or augment the one at home with some hand-carved camels, donkeys or sheep.

Nativity scene figurines | Gellinger / Pixabay
Nativity scene figurines | Gellinger / Pixabay

Rauchmannherstellung (Incense smoking man)

These ‘German smokers’ are a Christmas staple round these parts and make a fantastic, unique addition to the regular holiday decorations put up back home.

Wiehnachtspyramide (Christmas pyramids)

Christmas pyramids are a nice, serene antidote to robot Santas bleating out ‘Jingle Bells’ every time someone walks past. The heat from the candles makes the propeller spin, so no batteries are required.

Tree ornaments

What would a Christmas market be without a myriad of Christmas tree ornaments. Most wooden ones are laser cut from thin plywood rather than hand carved, so they’re affordable enough to stock up on, and some glass ornaments are even mouth-blown. Germans still put real candles on their trees, so all the accoutrements for doing so at home can be found at the markets as well.

Baubles at Nuremberg Christmas Market | © charley1965 / Flickr
Baubles at Nuremberg Christmas Market | © charley1965 / Flickr

Gluhwein mugs

What better than an authentic homemade mug to enjoy a classic, warming gluhwein (mulled wine) in?

Glühwein mugs at Leipzig Christmas Market | © Adelina Horn / Flickr
Glühwein mugs at Leipzig Christmas Market | © Adelina Horn / Flickr

Paper stars

Anyone walking around residential neighbourhoods between Advent and Epiphany will see these staple Christmas stars shining through most front windows. Just be sure to tell the vendor if you want the light as well as the star and they are usually not included.

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Christmas Stars at German Christmas Market | © Dieter_G / Pixabay

Nutcrackers

There are easier ways to relieve a nut of its case, but few have inspired entire ballets or, indeed, an entire holiday aesthetic. Markets will typically have a large variety of nutcrackers, but note that handmade ones are expensive and are usually used more as a holiday statues than appliances.

Nutcrackers | Hermann / Pixabay
Nutcrackers | Hermann / Pixabay

What not to buy: lebkuchen cookies

Just don’t get these gingerbread cookies. They may look delicious but taste like cardboard. Alternatively, lebkuchen make for good decoration as they last a long time and can withstand a fair share of abuse in a suitcase.

St Nicholas <em>Lebkuchen</em> at a German Christmas market | © Silar / Wikimedia Commons
St Nicholas Lebkuchen at a German Christmas market | © Silar/WikiCommons