A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt (literally: Christ Child Market, but the term "Christkind" usually refers to an angel-like "spirit of Christmas" rather than literally the Christ Child), Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, Christkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now held in many other countries. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that includes many eastern regions of France.
Dresden's Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434 and is considered the first genuine Christmas market, as earlier markets were rather "December markets". Early mentions of these "December markets" can be found in Vienna (1298), Munich (1310), Bautzen (1384), and Frankfurt (1393).
In many towns in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas market or "Weihnachtsmarkt". In southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria, it is called a "Christkind(e)l(s)(i)markt" (German language, literally meaning "Christ child market"). Traditionally held in the town square, the market has food, drink and seasonal items from open-air stalls accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. On opening night at the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, and in some other towns, onlookers welcome the "Christkind" (originally boy Jesus, but often depicted as an angel-like girl), acted out by a local child.
Attractions and stalls
Popular attractions at the markets include the Nativity Scene (a crèche or crib), Zwetschgenmännle (figures made of decorated dried plums), Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), Bratwurst, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market: Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg-based warm alcoholic drink). Both help stave off the cold winter air which sometimes dips below freezing. More regional food specialties include Christstollen (Stollen), a sort of bread with candied fruit in Saxony, and hot Apfelwein and Frankfurter Bethmännchen in Hesse.
Major Christmas markets
Famous Christmas markets are held in the cities of Augsburg, Dresden, Erfurt, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, and Stuttgart, making them popular tourist attractions during Christmas holiday season. The Nuremberg and Dresden markets draw about two million people each year; the Stuttgart and Frankfurt markets attract more than three million visitors. The two most visited Christmas markets in Germany are to be found in Dortmund with more than three and a half million visitors of 300 stalls around a gigantic Christmas tree creation that stands 45 metres (148 ft) tall, and in Cologne with 4 million people. Additionally, Berlin claims over 70 markets, which open in late November and close just after Christmas.
Christmas markets are popular Christmas traditions in Austria, and are held in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Linz, and Graz. The first "December Market" was held in Vienna in 1298. Vienna currently holds 20 different Christmas markets around the city. Most Christmas markets open in late November and last through December, closing right after 25 December, with a few staying open for New Year’s. The largest Christmas market and one of the most well known is the Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz near the Rathaus, Vienna’s historic city hall. The market draws 3 million people each year and includes 150 unique stalls that offer traditional Austrian foods, Christmas decorations and ornaments, handicrafts, and drinks. The Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz also features an advent theme park called the Adventzauber with workshops and cultural performances that cater to families and young children. Visitors to the Vienna Christmas World can also ice skate on a 3,000-square-metre (32,000 sq ft) ice rink and through paths that run through the Rathausplatz Park. Other famous Christmas markets include the Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace, the Art Advent on Karlsplatz, the Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace, and the Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz. The Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace, “Kultur-und-Weichnactsmarkt,” takes place in front of the imperial palace. It features Austrian handicrafts and goods as well as a cultural program with activities and workshops. The Art Advent on Karlsplatz offers artisan goods, a children’s program, and a petting zoo. Popular food specialities include Kinderpunsch (a non-alcoholic punch), Glühwein, Baumstriezel (a Hungarian pastry coated in cinnamon and sugar), Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), Lángos (savory deep fried dough), Schaumkuss (chocolate covered marshmallows), Stollen (bread with candied fruit), Maroni (roasted chestnuts), Bratkartoffel (roasted potato wedges), Lebkuchen (Austrian gingerbread), and baked potatoes.
Christmas markets are traditional in Alsace and most of the towns have their local Christmas market. Strasbourg, in Alsace, France, has been holding a Christmas market, "Christkindelsmärik," around its cathedral since 1570, when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.
In 1982 Lincoln, England established an annual Christmas market in early December, and this remains one of the most extensive such market by area in the United Kingdom, with a claimed total of over 300 stalls attracting more than 100,000 visitors over its four days. Starting in 1997 Frankfurt Christmas Markets were established with support from Frankfurt in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, and Manchester. Other large Christmas markets have been held in England in Bath (since 2000) and Liverpool (since 2006). The Christmas markets are such a success that they are becoming a major pull factor to increase trade and visitor numbers to towns and cities. Birmingham's Christmas Market, primarily located on New Street between the Bullring shopping centre and the Council House, is the "largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK" as well as the "largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria". The market also offers live entertainment on the main stage. The market is held for approximately six weeks every year and usually closes around 23 December. Manchester's Christmas Markets have also been successful with 300 stalls over eight city locations with each location being themed to create a different atmosphere such as French, World, and German, with European themed stalls on the Albert Square, Manchester proving to be the most popular.
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Christmas market in Jena
Malmö Christmas market 2016 Dews events Malmö, Sweden
In Colmar, 2010
German Christmas market in Millennium Square, Leeds, UK
Christmas market in Erfurt
Christmas market in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg
Christkindlimärt in Rapperswil, Switzerland
2009 Julmarknad ("Christmas market") in Gamla stan, Stockholm
Sternschnuppenmarkt in Wiesbaden, Germany
The Sibiu Christmas Market in Sibiu, Romania
The Christmas Market in Zagreb, Croatia
Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin
The Christmas Market in Wrocław, Poland
Dews events Copenhagen the white Christmas in Nytorv, Denmark
Biggest Christmas tree of the world, Dortmund Christmas Market
Recurring Christmas Market at Waddesdon Manor, UK, every year.
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