Christmas Market
Overview
 
A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market
Street market
A street market is an outdoor market such as traditionally held in a market square or in a market town, and often held only on particular days of the week...

 associated with the celebration of Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 during the four weeks of Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

. These markets originated in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

 and Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 but are now being held in many other countries.
The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 in the German speaking part of Europe.
Encyclopedia
A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market
Street market
A street market is an outdoor market such as traditionally held in a market square or in a market town, and often held only on particular days of the week...

 associated with the celebration of Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 during the four weeks of Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

. These markets originated in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

 and Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 but are now being held in many other countries.

History

The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 in the German speaking part of Europe. The Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 Christmas market, first held in 1434, is one of the oldest Christmas markets. It attracts between 1.5 and 2 million visitors a year and has over 250 stalls. The Bautzen
Bautzen
Bautzen is a hill-top town in eastern Saxony, Germany, and administrative centre of the eponymous district. It is located on the Spree River. As of 2008, its population is 41,161...

 Christmas market was even older, first being mentioned in records in 1384. The Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 "December market" was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294.

In many towns in Germany and Austria, Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

 is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas market or "Weihnachtsmarkt". In southern Germany and Austria it is sometimes called a "Christkind(e)l(s)markt" (German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, literally meaning "Christ child market"). Generally held in the town square and adjacent pedestrian zones, the market sells food, drink, and seasonal items from open-air stalls, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. On opening nights (and in some towns more often) onlookers welcome the "Christkind
Christkind
Das Christkind is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in regions of Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, parts of Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana...

", or boy Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, acted out by a local child.

Attractions and stalls

Popular attractions at the market include the Nativity Scene
Nativity scene
A nativity scene, manger scene, krippe, crèche, or crib, is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke...

 (a crèche or crib), Zwetschgamännla (figures made of decorated dried plums), Nussknacker (carved Nutcracker
Nutcracker
A nutcracker is a mechanical device for cracking nuts. Usually they work on the principle of moments as described in Archimedes' analysis of the lever...

s), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, somewhat resembling gingerbread.Lebkuchen were invented by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century. Lebkuchen bakers were recorded as early as 1296 in Ulm, and 1395 in Nürnberg...

and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread
Gingerbread
Gingerbread is a term used to describe a variety of sweet food products, which can range from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. What they have in common are the predominant flavors of ginger and a tendency to use honey or molasses rather than just sugar...

), Christstollen (Stollen
Stollen
A Stollen is a loaf-shaped cake containing dried fruit, and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season, when called...

), a sort of egg bread with candied fruit, Bratwurst
Bratwurst
A bratwurst is a sausage usually composed of veal, pork or beef. The plural in German is Bratwürste....

, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market: Glühwein, hot mulled wine
Mulled wine
Mulled wine, variations of which are popular in Europe, is wine, usually red, combined with spices and typically served warm. It is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas and Halloween.-Glühwein:...

 (with or without a shot of brandy
Brandy
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink...

), or Eierpunsch
Eierpunsch
Eierpunsch is the German name given to a warm, sweetened alcoholic, egg-based drink similar to eggnog . It is commonly a winter drink and can be found served in the popular Christmas markets of Germany and Austria. Eierpunsch is made with egg yolks, sugar, white wine and vanilla...

(an egg-based warm alcoholic drink). Both help stave off the cold winter air which sometimes dips below freezing. Many other handmade items, toys, books, Christmas tree
Christmas tree
The Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen coniferous tree, real or artificial, and a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. The tradition of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas started in Livonia and Germany in the 16th century...

 decorations and ornaments (and in recent years less useful gadgets) can be found at a Christkindlmarkt.

Markets around the world

Famous Christmas markets are held in the cities of Dortmund
Dortmund
Dortmund is a city in Germany. It is located in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Ruhr area. Its population of 585,045 makes it the 7th largest city in Germany and the 34th largest in the European Union....

, Erfurt
Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

, Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 and Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

 making them popular tourist attractions. The Nuremberg and Dresden markets draw about two million people each year; the Stuttgart market attracts more than three million visitors and the Dortmund market can claim one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany, with over 300 stalls packed around a gigantic Christmas tree creation that stands 45 metres tall.

Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, in Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, has been holding a Christmas market, "Christkindelsmärik
Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg
Christkindelsmärik is a Christmas market held annually in Strasbourg, France, near Strasbourg Cathedral.- History :Strasbourg has been holding Christkindelsmärik around its cathedral since 1570....

," around its cathedral since 1570, when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

.

Christmas markets are traditional in Alsace and most of the towns have their local Christmas market.

In 1982 Lincoln
Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Lincoln is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England.The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln has a population of 85,595; the 2001 census gave the entire area of Lincoln a population of 120,779....

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 established an annual Christmas market in early December, and this remains the most extensive such market by area in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, with a claimed total of over 300 stalls attracting more than 100,000 visitors over its four days. Large Christmas markets are also held in England in Leeds
Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

 and Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, with visiting traders from Frankfurt. The Birmingham Christmas Market was the largest in the UK in 2009 attracting over 2.8 million visitors over four weeks. Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, and Nottingham
Nottingham
Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...

 also hold similar markets; with Manchester having around 200 stalls in 2007, attracting nearly 1.2 million visitors over five weeks. The Birmingham Market in 2011 became the largest ever Christmas Market to be held outside of Germany, stretching one kilometre through the city centre.

German immigrants also brought the Christmas market celebrations to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Since 2007, a traditional Christmas market is held for the first time in Sibiu
Sibiu
Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, Romania with a population of 154,548. Located some 282 km north-west of Bucharest, the city straddles the Cibin River, a tributary of the river Olt...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. The first of its kind in Romania, it is inspired by Viennese Christmas markets. It was held in the "Lesser Square" (Piața Mică) had 38 small stalls, a small stage and an area dedicated to children, having several mechanical attractions installed there. The 2008 edition was held in the "Grand Square" and had the same number of stalls, but a bigger stage was installed, where Christmas carols concerts were held. A new attraction was an ice skating rink. The third edition, in 2009, was also held in the Grand Square of the town Sibiu
Sibiu
Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, Romania with a population of 154,548. Located some 282 km north-west of Bucharest, the city straddles the Cibin River, a tributary of the river Olt...

, has over 70 stalls where merchants from all over Romania sell their goods. A stage, an ice skating rink and an area dedicated to mechanical installations for children are installed.

See also


Further reading


External links

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