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Things this week have been highlighted by the arrival of the Christmas Season!  I know many Americans begin celebrating right after Thanksgiving, if not sooner, but most Europeans wait until the first of December, when advent calendars begin, or the 6th of December, St. Nicholas’ Day.  I’ve been listening to Christmas music since Thanksgiving dinner ended, but I officially began the season on Saturday when my friend Kelsey (who is studying in Germany this semester) came to Luxembourg City for the grand tour, which included the Luxembourg Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), which had opened the day before.  We followed this up with a visit to Trier for the Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) there.  Luxembourg put forth a solid effort, but the market in Trier was even more fantastic.  If you’re not familiar with the Christmas Market, dozens (if not hundreds) of little wooden huts are erected around the main square of the town, and a wide variety of stores operate from inside of these huts for the duration of the season.  A good number sell food—potato pancackes, roasted almonds, wursts (sausages), various cakes and cookies—and drinks—Gluhwein, a warm wine, hot chocolate, etc.—but the rest of them sell actual items.  These items range from Christmas ornaments to fine woodwork to candles to little gadgets to small figurines.  Just looking around and taking in the atmosphere can be a lot of fun!

Kelsey and I also ventured outside of the Christmas Market, though, to explore the rest of Trier.  We visited two remnants of the time when Trier belonged to the Roman Empire—the ruins of the never-completed Roman Baths and what is left of the Roman Amphitheater.  We wandered around the Baths and underneath the Amphitheater thinking about how different things would have been then, and how awesome/strange it is that something you can see in Italy can be so incredibly similar to something in Trier.  Our Christmas-y weekend was topped off by a wonderful dusting of snow on Sunday!

The snow continued on Monday, making my trip to Vianden in the north of Luxembourg a little sloppy but a whole lot more beautiful.  I didn’t have any specific purpose there, I just wanted to walk around and explore the village—and I did!  I had already visited the castle there at the beginning of the semester with the MUDEC bus tour, but hadn’t had the chance to explore the actual town, so that’s what this return trip was for.  It was a successful trip, and I was able to see a town I had seen at the end of summer with a fresh coat of snow, which was pretty neat.

The rest of the week continued in a flurry of lessons, more snow, and the arrival of St. Nicholas’ Day.  Officially being celebrated at the LCD tomorrow with a celebration planned by the Premiere (the oldest) students, many primary school students did not have school today in light of the holiday.  Last night, Tina and I went with our host family to Jordy and Sophie’s school concert, where they sang a variety of songs having to do with St. Nick visiting their houses.  My favorite, I think was the “Weinachtsbackerei” song.  When we woke up today, we found that St. Nick had indeed visited, even leaving a bowl of candy for Tina, Megan, and I.