9:19 p.m.: I remember a cauldron filled with molten beeswax, and my mother handing me a piece of string. I was seven or eight. It was Christmas, at a holiday market in Zurich. I dipped the string into the wax and pulled it out a few dozen times, and there was something amazing, even magical, about how the string turned into a candle, and about the smell of the wax, and the wintry crowds and the lights and the sounds. Today, 30-odd years later, the Mitteleuropa-style Christmas market is thriving, in Zurich, Prague, and Munich, in Frankfurt and Vienna—celebrations of the season and places where families can still make memories of their own.
Luke Barr is the former features director of Travel + Leisure.