Once the market is closed, it's time for the church experiences. We had the choice of a handful of impressively majestic Medieval churches, but chose one of the most ancient for this evening. Winter services in Europe usually means wearing every stitch of clothing you came with since even the lucky ones with the heated seats will find it woefully inadequate warmth for the 2 hours among the anciently frigid stones that make up these Gothic buildings. The service was only an hour long but the good seats all started going about an hour before, so this evening, those arriving 10 minutes prior either stood or came equipped with their own deck chairs.
The service itself involved a lot of singing of a lot of songs I'd never heard before, even with my relatively extensive carol repertoire. Accompanied by an appropriately massive organ and a passel of trumpets playing in some hidden clerestory level, the experience was fittingly awesome for an evening such as this. As with last year though, my most favorite part was as everyone streamed out the great entrance doors to the joyously chaotic tune of church bells throughout the city ringing through the cobbled streets. Families in all directions were hugging and kissing and handshaking and throwing Christmas greetings to each other as they dispersed through the streets, wet with a sheen of fog, off to dinner and cozy evenings by candlelit trees.