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Christmas story


JULIET AVERAY visits Munich's Market of the Christ Child


Munich's Christkindlmarkt or Market of the Christ Child is sheer magic. At the end of November, small wooden booths seem to pop up overnight in the Marienplatz and beyond, their roofs covered in snowy fir branches which glitter in the moonlight. Then an almost medieval atmosphere takes hold -- enticing smells of mulled wine, crisp sausages, beeswax candles, and spicy fruit bread compete with the enticements of the many stalls selling tinsel and glass baubles, decorated gingerbread, and Christmas toys from the Ore Mountains region of Germany, as well as the special booths offering Bavaria's famous crib figures of carved wood or plaster, and the myriad small accessories which are added year by year to the family nativity scene.

Walking home from the market one night, I heard music coming from somewhere near the great baroque Theatiner Church. Curious, I turned into an arcaded courtyard just off the street, and stood spellbound as the only audience of four brass players all dressed in the sturdy Alpine jackets, knee breeches and feathered hats typical of the Bavarian countryside; whether they were playing Schütz or Scheidt, I have no idea, but the particular happiness associated with those few minutes never leaves me -- an utterly entrancing memory of solemn and stately music being played to a vast, starry sky and one solitary earthling.

No herald angels could have proclaimed the mysterious wonder of Christmas better.

Copyright © 24 December 2001 Juliet Averay, Vancouver, Canada





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