My first winter holiday in Germany could not have been complete without a Christmas Market visit. We bundled up and made our way to downtown Frankfurt. The first stop was warming ourselves up with some warm alcoholic beverages.
Bethmännchen cookies are a Christmas tradition that originated in Frankfurt. The Bethmann family had a Parisian pastry chef, who was their live in cook. Dating back to 1838, the chef created a marzipan cookie with four almond halves on each side to represent the family's four sons and named the cookie Bethmännchen (Little Bethmann's). Sadly, a few years later one of the sons died and since then the cookies have been made with three almonds.
Ive seen the German Lebkuchenherzen or ginger bread hearts with funny sayings on them that hang from ribbons at other fairs and markets. They remind me of large versions of the Valentines day Sweethearts candies with sayings on them, that don't particularly taste good but are fun to read, give or receive. Except the white ones, I make an exception for them, I actually like them.
Glühwein was probably my favorite. It reminded me of warm sangria. Also known as mulled wine that can be made with red or white (I prefer red) and various spices added. Most commonly cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel and star anise heated and then sweetened. Served in a warm mug like this hit the spot on a cold winter's night.
This concept still makes me so happy and I hope to see more if it all around the world. When going to a bar, festival, or market like this you usually get a nice cup sometimes made of plastic but usually made of glass. You pay a deposit for it and when you return it with the token you get the deposit back. I feel like the drinking experience is better than sipping from a plastic cup and there is nothing to litter or waste and everyone brings their cups back with the incentive of getting their money back. It seems like a win win for everyone.
It was my first time seeing Zwetschgenmännchen, or prune men or prune people, around since 1790. Known to be good luck around the holidays. Usually a six inch figurine, handcrafted individual people made from dried plums, raisins, peanut hands and painted walnut heads. They represent various professions from cooks, to chimney sweeps, gardeners and grandmothers.
All images shot on a Canon 5D Mark III and a 50mm Canon lens. I picked this lens for the christmas market, because it has a low f-stop of 1.4. This means it lets in a lot of light, perfect for shooting at night. As a side effect it creates a shallow depth of field. It means the are in focus is narrow and can be tricky to get right, but it also beautifully blurs the background and brings out the lights. Since I did not bring a flash I tried to get my subjects to step into light sources when they were available.
Happy Holidays <3