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Southwestern Seasons Greetings

By Arizona Expert: Jojo, USA, December 2011

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Few people living outside of Arizona would put the Grand Canyon State on their list of places to visit when it comes to getting in the mood for the holidays.

Hollywood’s long tradition of Western movies created a cliche which seems to be omnipresent year round in the minds of most first-time visitors to this region: a mildly to wildly romantic scenery of giant cacti flickering in the scorching heat, barely casting shadows on scraggy skeletons of dormant pioneer plants, patiently waiting for a series of seasonal downpours rich enough to restart their cycles of life.  Not to forget about that half way buried cow skull peeking out of the bend of a dried out river bed, bearing witness to the reliable absence of regular precipitation…

But who would think about meadows covered in a thick blanket of white surrounded by massive trees, their branches and twigs holding up heavy heaps of diamond-like powder? Or mighty snow-capped mountains inviting to winter sports activities rivaling the kinds in California and Colorado in scenery, elevation, variety and rating? 

Indeed, we’ve got it all in our state when you are looking for that moon-boots-and-wool-hat holiday experience.  Considering the fact though that most people in the world spend Christmas without those reindeer sled accommodating natural features, there is no shame on the state’s desert dwellers in getting inventive, colorful and very traditional, as we will see, when putting an extra effort in lighting up the holiday season.

So why not go downtown in our capital on the first Saturday of December and kick it off with one of the oldest advent traditions in the world? A good hundred years before the “New World” was colonized, people in German-speaking countries and regions already gathered in the town squares to hold special Christmas markets selling seasonal crafts, local food and drinks.

On this very note the Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures hosts its 4TH ANNUAL CHRISTKINDLMARKT to bring “cherished German and European traditions to downtown Phoenix”.

Caroling, Christmas tunes, instrumentalists, poetry readings and a puppet show are only part of the entertainment awaiting you at this admission-free and family-friendly event. Get your stocking stuffers here and choose between a wide variety of traditional handicrafts, ornaments, soaps, jewelry, candles and toys. 

Even Santa Claus and Christkindl will have a special appearance (shhh, it is said to be around 3:30) filling children’s boots and shoes with gifts. Food-wise you will be spoiled with a seldom-seen selection of festive food and specialty beverages like Nuernberger bratwurst with sauerkraut, goulash soup, (real) German pretzel, ginger bread, apple strudel, roasted chestnuts, hot apple cider, mulled wine, laced hot cocoa and German “winter beer”.

This merry Christmas market for the whole family is held on Saturday, December 3rd 2011, from 10am to 8pm, at Heritage Square (7th St & Monroe). If you think this sounds like a joyful start into the holiday season please visit the Christkindlmarkt site to obtain further info on parking, public transportation as well as the complete entertainment schedule.

Photo courtesy of the Christkindlmarkt site.

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