The holidays always tend to remind me of the Christmas seasons that I spent in Europe. I have never been as “in the spirit of Christmas” as I was when I was living in France, especially during my year in Metz, which is very close to the German border. There was a certain ambiance in the air amongst the tastes, scents, sounds and sights that is particular and special to European cultures. One of my favorite activities was strolling through the Christmas markets and soaking in the spirit of the smiling people, listening to the traditional Christmas music, browsing through the hand-made crafts and of course tasting some delicious hot mulled wine.
Of course, one of my favorite aspects of Christmas in Europe is the beautiful music that goes hand in hand with the season. As I was lucky enough to have a musically inclined German grandmother (Oma), I was introduced to traditional German Christmas carols at a young age. She taught me the original versions of classic songs such as “Silent Night” and “Oh, Christmas Tree” and presented traditional ones to me such as “Still, Still, Still” and “Alle Jahre Wieder.” I still remember being at my grandparents’ house amongst all of their German Christmas decorations, singing along with her and unknowingly memorizing the lyrics to the German songs. Later on as an adult, I remember being at the Christmas market in Freiburg, Germany when suddenly I heard a choir singing in the square. As I approached the square, I couldn’t help but start to sing along and smile because I knew the lyrics, thanks to the sing-alongs at my Oma’s house many years before.
A great way to experience the magic of Christmas in Europe is through holiday performance tours! What an amazing time of year to be in Europe and to share Christmas music with the local people. You could spend the day roaming around a Christmas market, then give a performance at a nearby church decorated for the holidays in the evening, and finish off the evening with a delicious meal served in a local restaurant. Overseas travel is a fantastic way to experience the customs of a world-wide holiday in the setting of a different culture.
Photo courtesy of www.europeword.com