In the larger cities the markets last the entire Advent period, drawing visitors from all over the continent, and are a highlight of the season. Located in the center of the cities, they boast hundreds of booths selling all sorts of seasonal articles, gifts and food. Weekday and weekend trips are organized to the biggest ones from all over Europe. You can spend hours if not days wandering up and down the crowded aisles and still not see everything. Zurich is no different, with the market located within the confines of the world-renowned Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Seeing the Swarovski Christmas tree – a 15 meter high tree completely adorned with the acclaimed companies’ crystal figures - is worth the trip alone. But regardless of which market you visit, they all have their own special styles and traditions, depending on the region and national culture.
For those living outside of the city, the small town markets are beloved in their respective areas, being as much a social as a commercial event.
In most small towns the market takes place on only one day. Children can make their own candles while the adults wander through the different stands, or have coffee and cake while meeting their friends. The local clubs all have booths where they sell hand-made crafts and wares, like Advent’s wreathes, table decorations and small treats like waffles, bratwurst and tea. You can also get home-made goods such as bread, cheese, dried meats and cookies. The youth organizations spend weeks before making the candles, glassware, wreaths and other small trinkets which they sell to raise a bit of money. A glass of gluhwein (hot red wine with cinnamon, orange, honey and sugar) is always available, and is particularly appreciated when it is cold out. Many of the people taking part in the market are not there to make money - they are just out to meet the townsfolk and support their town culture simply by participating.
It is really not possible to explain the togetherness and joy felt when participating in the annual Advent market - so our advice to you is to experience it for yourself. The next time you are in Switzerland in December, find out when the nearby towns and cities are holding their markets, and spend your day wandering through one and talking to the stand owners. It will be a memorable trip.
All of us at PDF Tools wish you, your friends, families and loved ones a wonderful festive season and prosperity in 2011.
Your pdf-tools.com team