Roman wine, all about the Pope and the German Christmas markets


It smells of almond biscuits, the fingers sticky of the hot mulled wine and the bag carries self-made candles for Grandma like every year. It is as important to the Christmas time as the Easter Bunny for the Easter holidays. Young and old meet here as well as families, colleagues, Christmas fanatics and people looking for some drinks.  It is the place where not only kid’s eyes shine. Also the grownups eyes get shiny after too many sips from the hot beverages. Of course we speak about the Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt in German.

But when did this tradition start? Why is every visitor drinking mulled wine? And is it all about contemplative Christmas joy or is there also some sexiness included? denkBar is looking for traces:

Striezel (Plaited bun) & the butter letter

dd-striezel1-1024x576In 1434 the first predecessor of today’s Christmas market was set up in Dresden. The Dukes of Saxony Friedrich II. and Sigismund declared that the Christmas roast could be sold on the day before Christmas Eve. Before the declaration, trading on that day was not allowed. In course of times, more and more merchants opened small stands to sell all kinds of products. Each Monday before Christmas Eve, bakers produced the Striezel, a plaited bun. It can be said that the Strizel is the predecessor of today’s Christmas stollen, a fruity cake made with butter, marzipan, raisins and sugar. The Striezel was also eponym for the Christmas market in Dresden: Striezelmarkt.

However, back in the 15th century, the Striezel was not very tasty. The use of butter and milk was not allowed by Church law and so it was mainly made out of flour, water and yeast. But it seemed like also the Electors of Saxony did not like the taste of the Striezel. As a result they asked the Pope to dismiss the ban of butter. And it really happened: in 1491, the Holy Father send the famous butter letter to the Electors and allowed the use of tasty ingredients like butter, marzipan, raisins and icing sugar.

Wine & panacea

„There’s room in even the smallest cabin” – or not. Anyone who wants to drink mulled wine on a Christmas market may be confronted with crowded spaces. Everyone wants to taste the sweet, fruity and hot mulled wine that smells of cinnamon and cloves. But what would the old Romans say if they knew that the common people is drinking the noble beverage?


2000 years ago the refined wine was only for the nobility as spices and honey for the mulled wine were expensive. Honey prolonged the shelf life and added the sweet taste. Moreover, mulled wine was perceived as a panacea for many diseases and was consumed cold. The essential oils of the spices strengthened the immune system and resulted in joy and happiness. Especially the last part of the description still holds true in today’s times after some cups of mulled wine. But be warned! Cheap mulled wine may result in a terrible headache and not in a strong immune system. This is why we created a denkBar mulled wine recipe for you at the end of the page.

A world of glitter & the Middle Ages

The Christmas market in Bremen is known beyond the city borders and is one of the most beautiful markets in the north of Germany. More than 170 stands on Bremen’s market square create Christmas feelings and a hole in the wallet. But seriously: who can resist the smell of roasted almonds, mulled wine, crullers and grilled sausages? Besides food and beverages glittering decoration products are top-sellers: colorful candles, handmade toys and shiny Christmas balls are sold to the visitors.


An interesting alternative to the market square offers the medieval Christmas market close the Weser River. Candles instead LED lights, gold dimes instead of Euro coins, bread out of the stone oven instead of a normal grill sausage – The medieval Christmas market creates an own world of pirates, knights, witches and merchants. It offers time to rest and to look at nearly forgotten crafts: a blacksmith who forms iron over hot charcoal or a glassblower who design Christmas balls in front of amazed visitors.

Saucy & pink

Snow at Christmas – The perfect combination. However, the North of Germany usually offers cold temperatures and rain. Thus, the city of Hamburg established a Christmas market where it gets hot.

Santa Pauli – Hamburg’s most sexy Christmas market in the middle of the amusement district of the city. Everything is a bit different here: sexy angles pole dance while bands play live music. Of course toys can be purchased here as well, but not the kind of toys you would give to your kids.

But also the South of Germany offers a kind of different Christmas market. The name of Munich’s pink Christmas market says it all: everything is pink! The pink alternative was established by city’s gay community and became a tourist attraction. Travesty actors perform in warm tents and special presents are offered at the market stands.

Magical tradition

The beautiful tradition of Christmas markets started with the butter letter and plaited buns. Nowadays the markets are to be found in the smallest city and in Germany’s neighboring countries. No matter which Christmas market you plan to visit, one thing is for sure: the real Christmas feelings are created in company. So take out your friends, family and colleagues and enjoy the magic of Christmas markets.


denkBar’s recipes


Our tips for a tasty mulled wine:

  1. An intense taste is developed over time. Prepare the mulled wine one day before consumption so that spices can unfold their flavor.
  2. Never boil the mulled wine – Only heat it up so it gets hot. Use the lid of the pan so that the alcohol stays in the wine.
  3. If you want to include hard liquor like rum, add it to the cup, not straight to the bowl. Otherwise it can get too strong.


denkBar’s classic – Red mulled wine:

  • 1x bottle of red wine (dry & fruity; e.g. Merlot, Chianti, Montepulciano)
  • Juice of 3-4 oranges
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 star anise (complete)
  • 6 cloves (complete)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Honey
  • Filter

Add the juice of the oranges and lemon to the red wine and heat it up, do not boil it. Open the vanilla bean and add the vanilla pulp along with the other spices to the mixture. Let it stay warm so that the full flavor can develop. Use a filter before consumption if you do not like the spices in your mulled wine.

denkBar’s freshness – White mulled wine

  • 1x bottle of white wine (e.g. Rivaner, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay)
  • Juice of 1-2 oranges
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 star anise (complete)
  • 3 cloves (complete)
  • Honey
  • Filter

Prepare the wine as described above.

denkBar’s light & fruity – Without alcohol

  • 1 liter of red grape juice
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 star anise (complete)
  • 3 cloves (complete)
  • Honey
  • Filter

Prepare the wine as described above.



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