One of the picture-postcard scenes of Vienna in the period leading up to Christmas is a group of friends standing round a table at an open market, each clutching a mug of steaming Weihnachtspunsch.
Quite what’s in the drink depends on who you talk to. There are numerous variations, but the two most common suggestions are a version of mulled wine (what the Germans would call Glühwein) and a combination of tea, spices, sugar and spirits (mainly rum and brandy).
The drink you get at the Christmas markets is piping hot and often very sweet. If you prefer to steer clear of alcohol, but still want the Weihnachtspunsch experience, it’s usually available in a non-alcoholic version (often called Kinderpunsch, literally Children’s Punch).
The price of a mug includes a deposit for the mug itself, which you get back when you return it. If you return it…the Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz, for example, brings out a unique mug design each year, which people often treat as a collectible and keep for themselves (which is quite OK – that’s why they charge the deposit).
(Photo credit: © julia_lazarova / Fotolia)