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The east end of the Speyer cathedral, as seen from the garden behind the basilica. Officially known as the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Stephen, the cathedral in Speyer, Germany, is steeped in history, a massive block of rock that stands as a timeless piece of Romanesque architecture.
The east end of the Speyer cathedral, as seen from the garden behind the basilica. Officially known as the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Stephen, the cathedral in Speyer, Germany, is steeped in history, a massive block of rock that stands as a timeless piece of Romanesque architecture. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
The east end of the Speyer cathedral, as seen from the garden behind the basilica. Officially known as the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Stephen, the cathedral in Speyer, Germany, is steeped in history, a massive block of rock that stands as a timeless piece of Romanesque architecture.
The east end of the Speyer cathedral, as seen from the garden behind the basilica. Officially known as the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Stephen, the cathedral in Speyer, Germany, is steeped in history, a massive block of rock that stands as a timeless piece of Romanesque architecture. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Visitors to the Speyer cathedral  gather outside a nondescript entrance to the old basilica: an unmarked side door. Entrance to the cathedral is free.
Visitors to the Speyer cathedral gather outside a nondescript entrance to the old basilica: an unmarked side door. Entrance to the cathedral is free. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Many religious symbols can be found inside the cathedral in Speyer, Germany.
Many religious symbols can be found inside the cathedral in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Lighted candles lend a peaceful ambience to the cathedral in Speyer, Germany.
Lighted candles lend a peaceful ambience to the cathedral in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Paintings depicting scenes from the Bible are bathed in natural light inside the cathedral in Speyer, Germany.
Paintings depicting scenes from the Bible are bathed in natural light inside the cathedral in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Visitors look tiny inside the massive cathedral in Speyer, Germany. The massive rock basilica is the largest surviving Romanesque cathedral. Original construction finished in 1061, though much of the structure was destroyed and rebuilt over the years.
Visitors look tiny inside the massive cathedral in Speyer, Germany. The massive rock basilica is the largest surviving Romanesque cathedral. Original construction finished in 1061, though much of the structure was destroyed and rebuilt over the years. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A side door leads to a stone courtyard on the south side of the cathedral in Speyer, Germany.
A side door leads to a stone courtyard on the south side of the cathedral in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Colorful and decorative paper lanterns light up a stall at the Speyer Christmas Market in December 2013. The market typically opens in late November and is one of the handful in Germany to stay open for a few days after Christmas.
Colorful and decorative paper lanterns light up a stall at the Speyer Christmas Market in December 2013. The market typically opens in late November and is one of the handful in Germany to stay open for a few days after Christmas. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Women chat at the Speyer Christmas Market in December 2013, while one enjoys a warm waffle topped with whipped cream and fruit.
Women chat at the Speyer Christmas Market in December 2013, while one enjoys a warm waffle topped with whipped cream and fruit. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
An impressive toy train set, on display in December 2013 at the Speyer Christmas Market, stood outside a vintage toy shop in Speyer, Germany.
An impressive toy train set, on display in December 2013 at the Speyer Christmas Market, stood outside a vintage toy shop in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Men in yellow serve up red and white bratwurst at the Speyer Christmas Market in Speyer, Germany, in December 2013. Eating is a popular activity at the market, where vendors sell Palatinate delicacies such as potato soup and yeast dumplings.
Men in yellow serve up red and white bratwurst at the Speyer Christmas Market in Speyer, Germany, in December 2013. Eating is a popular activity at the market, where vendors sell Palatinate delicacies such as potato soup and yeast dumplings. ()
Santa Claus waves from a rooftop at the Speyer Christmas Market, in Speyer, Germany, in December 2013.
Santa Claus waves from a rooftop at the Speyer Christmas Market, in Speyer, Germany, in December 2013. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Visitors stroll along the cobblestone streets of Speyer during the city's annual Christmas market, in December 2013.
Visitors stroll along the cobblestone streets of Speyer during the city's annual Christmas market, in December 2013. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Hand-carved wooden Christmas ornaments hang from a stall in December 2013 at the annual Christmas market in Speyer, Germany.
Hand-carved wooden Christmas ornaments hang from a stall in December 2013 at the annual Christmas market in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A Christmas tree adorned with handmade decorations adds to the festive spirit of the Speyer Christmas Market in December 2013. Stalls are set up along the city's old section, between the Speyer Dom (cathedral) and the Old Mint building.
A Christmas tree adorned with handmade decorations adds to the festive spirit of the Speyer Christmas Market in December 2013. Stalls are set up along the city's old section, between the Speyer Dom (cathedral) and the Old Mint building. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Delicate wind chimes were among some of the exceptional items for sale in December 2013 at the annual Christmas market in Speyer, Germany.
Delicate wind chimes were among some of the exceptional items for sale in December 2013 at the annual Christmas market in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Candied, toasted almonds are a common treat at German Christmas markets; the Christmas market in Speyer, Germany, where these bundles of almond goodness were for sale in December 2013, is no exception.
Candied, toasted almonds are a common treat at German Christmas markets; the Christmas market in Speyer, Germany, where these bundles of almond goodness were for sale in December 2013, is no exception. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Wooden cats cock their heads from their perch inside a stall at the Speyer Christmas Market. The annual market in one of Germany's oldest cities is one of the few to remain open until early January.
Wooden cats cock their heads from their perch inside a stall at the Speyer Christmas Market. The annual market in one of Germany's oldest cities is one of the few to remain open until early January. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A long, skinny bratwurst is served in a roll during the annual Christmas market in Speyer, Germany, in December 2013.
A long, skinny bratwurst is served in a roll during the annual Christmas market in Speyer, Germany, in December 2013. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

My favorite thing about Speyer, Germany, at Christmastime happens after the Christmas goose is cooked.

The city is host to one of the few Christmas markets in Germany that doesn’t cart off its stalls, Christmas lights and tubs of mulled wine before Christmas Day.

After closing Dec. 25 and Dec. 26, the festivities return until Jan. 6 under the guise of the Speyer New Year’s Market. Different name, same merry scene.

Who cares if Christmas is over? I’ll gaze at that silly Santa Claus figure wearing shades while sitting on his rooftop sleigh for hours if it means one more chance to sip warm Glühwein and revel in the waning magic of Christmastime in Germany.

The market last year in early January was bustling at midday. A stroll down the charming center of the city, along Maximilianstrasse between the Speyer Dom and the Old Mint, made my stomach lurch with hunger pangs, given the olfactory assault from the usual suspects of grilled sausage, roasted almonds and freshly baked waffles.

Like every Christmas market in Germany, Glühwein stands were more common than hot dogs at an American baseball game. But the Speyer market also entices with some unique regional specialties, such as potato soup and yeast dumplings.

Though relatively small – by Nuremberg or Cologne standards at least – the market draws a nice variety of vendors. Among the items inside the booths were delicate wooden ornaments, glass figurine wind chimes, colorful paper lanterns, handcrafted tin cookie cutters, and exotic spices, such as saffron.

Weekends bring even more activities, with an arts-and-crafts market on the four weekends before Christmas, during Advent, at the courtyard of the old town hall. On Dec. 3 and 18, “The Old City Gate in Flames” takes place. The display of lights, music and fireworks illuminates one of Germany’s tallest town gates.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

Christmas & New Year's Markets in Speyer, GermanyLocation: The city of Speyer is located in the state of Rhineland-Pfalz.

Times: Through Jan. 6, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except on the following days: Dec. 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; closed Dec. 25 and 26; Dec. 31, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Jan. 1, 1-9 p.m.

Cost: Free admission.

Food: Bratwurst, Glühwein, waffles, crepes, roasted almonds, and regional specialties such as potato soup and yeast dumplings are all sold at the market.

Information: There is an English link at the city website: www.speyer.de. Look under “celebrating festivals.”

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