‘Tis the season for many things — decorations, lights, music, holiday shopping (which means Christmas markets here in Vienna) and lots of festive foods and drinks.  Punsch is particularly popular here (we’re not entirely sure what it is, and it seems to vary by vendor, but it appears to be rum or vodka and a little bit of fruit juice, served warm), as well as hot chocolate, mulled wine, cookies and gingerbread.  Lots and lots of different kinds of gingerbread.

To me, gingerbread is something that makes little houses which are fun to decorate (theoretically — I haven’t actually done it in years) or a flavor that goes into a latte.  I did buy some mix last year and make a few gingerbread cake men (very yummy) but I honestly hadn’t given a lot of thought to gingerbread in my life.

In Vienna, gingerbread is a big deal.  There are entire shops at the Christmas markets devoted to nothing but different kinds of gingerbread — cakes, loaves, cookies.  At the Christmas market closest to our house, there are *3* gingerbread shops.  (Think about that for a minute:  3 shops that only sell gingerbread.  Seriously.)

A few weeks ago, Benjamin asked for a treat from one of the gingerbread shops when we were out.  He selected something from the case, took one bite, and decided he wasn’t interested.  I decided to try it.  What he had selected was gingerbread, topped with raspberry jam and coated in dark chocolate.  Yup.  It’s great.  I’ve been converted.  Now I love gingerbread.

Now, when we go to the markets, I often make a stop at a gingerbread shop.  This past weekend, at the Schonbrunn market, I had to elbow and push my way up through the crowd at the gingerbread shop to get up to the front to see what they had.  So, not only do they have dozens of new gingerbread markets around Vienna right now, but you have to shove your way up to the front of the line to get served.  They like their gingerbread here.  So do I.

I love Christmas in Vienna.

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