But fear not! After centuries (give or take) of Christmas market practice, those clever Germans devised a way to keep you hydrated without turning your stomach into a giant beersicle.
Glühwein literarally translates to "glowing wine," and the reality definitely lives up to the name.This ingenious beverage is a staple for the holiday season. And the concept is wonderfully simple. It is a wine (traditionally red, but I have seen a white variation here and there) with different spices added (I could look them up, but that would ruin the magic that gives Glühwein its incomparable taste) and served warm. It is basically impossible to go to Christmas market without enjoying a mug of Glühwein. Especially if you're me.
Speaking of the mugs. Each Christmas market makes their own unique mug and they are totally free for the taking, if you so please.
Of course, by free, I mean you have to pay a deposit when you buy your drink if you don't return your mug, you don't get your deposit back. Some people might point out that you could just buy a clean mug for the regular deposit (usually about 2.50€), but I prefer to keep the mugs I've enjoyed a drink from. It's a bit of a rite of passage for me. And as a person who doesn't often buy souvenirs, I'm all about the Glühwein mugs. I have one from every Christmas market I've ever visited from my past 2 Christmases in Europe and this year's collection is coming along quite nicely as well.
Glühwein is definitely one of my favorite parts of the Christmas markets. Even if it's snowing and below freezing and all you want to do is stay inside in the warmth, the promise of enjoying a Glühwein at the Christmas market is all the motivation I need to head out on a cold December night!