Christmas is different in every culture around the world, and while many of America's Christmas traditions come from Germany and Austria, that doesn't mean it's the same thing.
For one, in Austria, it's the Christ Child himself who delivers the gifts to good little children, not some bearded, Nordic fat man in a red suit. And we were lucky – not only did the Christ Child bring a gift or two for us while we stayed in Innsbruck, but we got a chance to see the lighted procession on Christmas Eve.
We lined up down town along the parade route under thousands and thousands of hung lights, warming our hands around mugs of mulled wine and stamping our feet to avoid catching a chill. Austria is lovely in the summer, I'm told, but it seemed to me the winter is when Austria really struts its stuff, and the cheer and fellowship that surrounded the whole event of the Christ Child ("Krist Kind") coming down to greet everyone were lovely to experience.
As for me, the Krist Kind brought me a woolen hat – much appreciated by my chilly ears and head! Also appreciated were these pastries. Can't remember how they're called, but imagine a jelly doughnut with the jelly on the outside. Now imagine eating one outside, standing around heated drums in the cool night air. Delicious.
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