I’m not sure how I missed the Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, PA but somehow I either never went or my memory is shot and I don’t remember. The how or why or if I forgot no longer matters though because this year, in biting cold 19 degree weather, I made it.
I usually see my family about twice a year and almost always one of those times is around Christmas. Every year for the last several years we’ve gone to Peddler’s Village to freeze to death while waiting in line to see the gingerbread houses while at the same time sipping on hot chocolate that is so hot it melts your taste buds off. Oh, and then there’s the Christmas lights. Not this year.
Before going to visit I asked my brother and sister-in-law if they wanted to go to Philly to the Christkindlmarkt in Center City. It’s supposed to be phenomenal and I’ve never been. Traveling with an 8 month old and a five year old to Philly is not exactly ideal. Completely understandable. My brother, thinking I was nuts I’m sure, mentioned the Christmas market in Bethlehem. Say what? What planet have I been living on all my life? I had no earthly idea that there was ever a Christmas market in Bethlehem.
It wasn’t surprising though. Many people from the Christmas City [Bethlehem] and the nearby area have German roots, so why wouldn’t they have a market? Oddly enough, the Bethlehem Christkindlmarkt was featured on Conde Nast Traveler as one of the Christmas Markets to visit only mere days after I discovered their existence.
Juston and I arrived midday on Friday and got to squeezing and giving sugars [kisses] to the littlest nephew Noah immediately, while his big bro was in school. We waited for the guys, both the short one, Connor (the other nephew) and the big one (my brother) to get home. Then we all packed in the car and went on our way.
Nineteen degrees is cold. As a Southern Yankee I was indisputably unprepared for just how cold it truly was that night. Cold or not, the Christkindlmarkt was cool!
As with the Christkindlmarkts in Europe, this one has food, drinks, and seasonal items with the traditional singing. Missing from this picture was the open-air stalls. I didn’t mind. While there were a few stalls outside, most stalls were in colossal tents at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks.
First up: food. Food is always the priority, am I right? I don’t know about y’all, but I love German food. Okay, I’ll admit that I love all food judging by the fact that the button on my jeans just ricocheted off my cubicle wall, but German food is so darn tasty! I actually ended up going for a Polish/German dinner consisting of pierogies sautéed in butter with onions and German potato salad. If you’ve ever eaten either, you’d understand why I had to get them! Don’t get me wrong, the South has fantastic food, but some things you can’t get down here or aren’t like home. And pierogies and German potato salad are on that list.
A group played music and sang carols under the twinkling stars in the tent while we ate. I savored every bite of my meal. The potato salad was warm and tangy. So delish. Plus, it had bacon in there and bacon makes everything great. The pierogies were potato and so tender, completely covered in butter and onions. Mmmmm, boy could I go for one now.
My nephew Connor, fascinated with all tools, was intent on watching the ice carver carve giant blocks of ice with his chainsaw. I could see the wheels turning in his head. Hopefully my brother has his chainsaw on lockdown ‘cause this kid has got some ideas!
The merchants selling their wares were festive and friendly. And, admittedly, they had some really beautiful things.
When we were getting ready to leave for the evening we took the family holiday photo (minus mama) and I snapped a few photos of the festive red and green Bethlehem Steel stacks. The old Bethlehem Steel plant is now a preserved “ten-acre campus dedicated to arts, culture, family events, community celebrations, education and fun. Once the home plant of Bethlehem Steel, the second largest steel manufacturer in the nation, the site has been reborn through music and art, offering more than 1,000 concerts and eight different festivals annually.”
Bellies full and fingers numb, we piled back in the car to go home. Honestly, it was good to finally thaw out!