It looks like Berlin loves Christmas, or “Weihnacht” auf Deutsch. When my parents visited in mid-November, we kept running into the Christmas set-up of markets and trees and décor. Suddenly sturdy wooden huts popped up all over the city. Where do they keep these veritable cities of Christmas for 10 1/2 months each year? Perhaps the North Pole. By the time the Kass cousins arrived on Thanksgiving (which the Germans don’t have so they don’t know when to start decorating), the season was in full swing. So my parents and the cousins saw Christmas Berlin, in which the emphasis clearly falls on the holiday, not the city.
Did you want to see the Brandenburg Gate? No, surely you wanted to see the Christmas tree at the Gate:
Checkpoint Charlie sounds interesting? Well, here is the view of Checkpoint Charlie these days.
Would you like to enjoy the calm beauty of the Gendarmenmarkt, featuring architecture by Karl Schinkel? Actually, surely you would rather see it like this:
The Memory Church is a famous landmark and a serious war protest memorial. But it looks so much better bedecked in its Weihnachtsmarkt, don’t you think?
Even random streets are lined with these Christmas huts, which usually cause all kinds of pedestrian jams for those of us trying not to shop but rather to get to German class.
I understand that these markets are a beloved tradition for many Berliners. Shoppers jam their narrow aisles browsing the handicrafts, munching on pretzels, drinking the Glühwein (mulled wine). However, there are plenty of lovely, generic spots in Berlin where this “sprucing” up wouldn’t interfere so much with the history and architecture. And, as an American, this overwhelming public embrace of Christmas violates my delicate multicultural sensibilities. Berlin maybe would benefit from importing a little bit of the War Against Christmas.