The celebration of Christmas traditions, both centuries-old and new, is underway in St. Paul's historic Lowertown. 

The annual European Christmas Market, known for its intricately-decorated booths and European treasures, is now open to shoppers on the East Plaza at the Union Depot. 

Market-goers can escape the dark, Minnesota night and retreat to a colorful, cozy market, which celebrates the Christmas traditions rooted in Germany, Austria and other European countries. 

The markets historically run during Advent. 

"It is during that time that rustic timber booths draped with fragrant evergreen boughs line the town squares and it is here that vendors and artists sell items such as toys, blown-glass ornaments, cones of warm sugared almonds and steaming mugs of Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) to holiday shoppers, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing," the market's website reads. 

The market is full of handcrafted gifts, such as wreaths and jewelry, and goods imported from the Nordic region of Europe. 

The market is outdoors, but visitors can warm up to the smell of holiday spices and the taste of hot chocolate, while stocking up on chocolates, specialty cheese and other treats for home. 

Booths of wooden toys, pottery and handmade winter accessories are a few items you'll find at this year's market. 

Families can also try their hand at making ice lanterns and other festive arts and crafts. 

"European Christmas Market provides a cultural event to the heart of the city that will entertain the whole family and familiarize them with 500-year-old world traditions and culture," according to Explore Minnesota, the state's travel website. "The event creates an ambiance and celebration — to bring light to the dark of winter and add to the good will of the Christmas spirit."

Christine Schuster is a reporter for the Savage Pacer.


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