The Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas Market, is an outdoor event that happens in various places all over Germany. Here in Cologne we have about four or five different markets throughout the city. They are made up of little houses that sit next to each other containing different vendors of food and crafts, and the whole place is decorated with lights. There is music, lots of happy people, and of course Glühwein.
Glühwein, or in english "glowing wine", is a sweet red dessert wine served hot. Often times it is cooked with fruits such as oranges, and other spices to give it a very unique flavor. Two euros at the Weihnachtsmarkt will buy you a steaming cup of fresh Glühwein served in a special mug. Every market in the city has a different mug that is in general very fancy, and if you are a visitor, like me, it also makes a great souvenir. Every time that you order a "glowing wine" you pay for the drink and you pay extra for the cup. After you have finished, you return the cup to get your money back for it. In German they call this the "pfand", and this is the same rule that applies in biergartens, and also from bottled drinks from the grocery store. When you return the bottle, glass, or mug, your pfand is then returned to you.
The Weihnachtsmarkt is a great place to go in the evening just with friends or co-workers. It gets dark at about 4:30pm here, so it is still a nice atmosphere in the early evening. I am glad that there is something more to experience even in my last couple of weeks before I return home.