As a child, Christmas always held a special place in my heart. I can clearly remember dressing up and going caroling with my friends or family members. In exchange, I would get oranges, traditional sweet bread, hot chocolate with cinnamon, or cake. We would always hang out together in a warm room, grateful for the perks of the season. Today, there is a way to enjoy Christmas traditions before the holidays are upon us. Inspired by the Vienna Christmas Market, different cities in Romania have their equivalent of pre-Christmas fun. I invite you to visit Romania’s most appreciated Christmas Markets, where you will find an early holiday spirit with a Romanian twist.
The tradition of Christmas Markets is relatively new to Romania. It all started in Sibiu, in 2007, as a cultural project of the Austrian Embassy. The embassy collaborated with the county and recreated Vienna’s well-known Christmas Market in Sibiu, right in central Romania. Today, Sibiu still is the top destination for those who wish to start Christmas early. The market contains a big Christmas tree, many twinkling lights, and a significant number of wood houses filled with international and Romanian delicacies. The children are in for a treat since there are a lot of Christmas themed workshops taking place here. This market in Sibiu usually opens in the middle of November and closes after the third of January.
The People’s House in Bucharest attracts crowds due to its size and the fact that it is the second-largest administrative building in the world. Located in Constitutiei Square, this construction is the lit-background of the square’s Christmas Market. The winter holiday enthusiasts swarm towards this colorful square from the end of November until after Christmas. The market usually opens around the time the winter decorations are first lit across the city each year, making its inauguration even more special. Visitors get to ride the market’s carousel or enjoy some ice-skating while here.
This market in Constitutiei Square is the perfect place to try Romanian food and take home some handmade traditional Romanian items. Visitors can try sweetbread, homemade jams, pies, and even eat mămăligă like Jonathan Harker from “Dracula.” Mămăligă works perfectly with sarmale, which is a go-to traditional Romanian lunch dish often chosen by foreigners who like to discover Romanian food.
What is also fascinating about the capital’s Christmas Market is the fact that the market’s stage is filled each evening with music artists who will warm you up with their tunes. Let us also not forget about the many vendors who sell delicious mulled wine, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg always present in the air.
Very close to Sibiu is the city of Braşov. My favorite Christmas Market takes place here, in the Council Square. You may be wondering what makes this specific market my favorite one. Well, let me tell you. To me, nothing beats having some mulled wine while staring at the snow-covered Black Church, Black and White Towers, and Tâmpa Peak. These all give Christmas a medieval feel, where the ambiance is almost magical. Walking in the city of Braşov is like taking a stroll in the midst of legends.
What also makes this Christmas Market special is the very tall Christmas tree, which is almost as tall as the Museum of History itself. This museum is the square’s focal point, being surrounded by the little houses of the market in wintertime. The talented artisans of Braşov fill these houses with handmade winter decorations, gingerbread, and authentic Romanian winter clothing. The prices are fair, and I can assure you that you’ll appreciate the artisans’ masterpieces for a long time to come. This Christmas Market is usually open from the first of December to the first of January.
For Romanians, winter celebrations are a way to better connect with the extended family, friends, and neighbors. It’s a time of giving back to the community and of spoiling our loved ones with Christmas cheer. If you choose to spend the winter holidays or the time before that in Romania, know that our most appreciated Christmas Markets will put excitement in your steps and Christmas cheer in your hearts.
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