Every Christmas millions of people travel to cities across Germany to experience the magic of the German Christmas markets. For generations, craftsmen have gathered during the month of December to sell their wares to a city’s people. Each city has its own market with a unique character born of the days when only local tradesmen were permitted to attend. In the shadow of the city’s iconic cathedral, the Cologne Christmas market’s vendors lay out their wares in booths and tents packed onto the cobblestones of the old town square. Booths selling hand-made Christmas toys and ornaments nestle in next to food sellers grilling bratwurst and sweets stalls laden down with baskets of foil-wrapped treats sparkling and glittering in the lamplight. The smells of fresh-baked gingerbread and Glühwein—mulled wine, traditional Christmas market fare—fill the chilly air between the stalls. The centerpiece of the market, a giant Christmas tree—the largest in the Rhineland—towers over all but the cathedral spire, twinkling in the night.