By: Katharina Massi
The Christmas markets are street markets associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. They originated in Germany in the late middle ages and spread to Austria and Switzerland. Today there are markets all over the world, in Croatia, Romania, Poland, Sweden, France and Britain. Every year all people come to the markets to celebrate advent. In Nuremberg and other cities, a “Christkind” (boy Jesus) which is acted out by a local child is welcomed by the people. The market is traditionally held in the town square. Nowadays, the markets are so big that they also spread into the neighboring streets. The first Christmas market or “weihnachtsmarkt” was held in Munich in 1310. In southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland, it is also called “Christkindlesmarkt” which translates to “Christ child market”.
The markets offer food and drinks from stalls with traditional singing and dancing. Some popular foods are candied toasted almonds, Lebkuchen, Bratwurst, Christstollen, and Glühwein. Lebkuchen is a soft version of gingerbread. Bratwurst, which is a fried sausage in a bread roll with dressing. Christstollen is a type of cake bread with candied fruits. One of the highlights of the market especially for visitors is the hot mulled wine called “Glühwein”.
Gingerbread hearts are also one of the best parts of Christmas markets. Gingerbread hearts are most commonly sold at the German Oktoberfest, but can also be found at Christmas markets. Like the name says it is a type of gingerbread cookie decorated with icing. Generally, they have a nice message written with icing and are worn around the people’s necks.
Besides the food and drinks, the Christmas markets have nativity scenes. Nowadays there are even open-air concerts where traditional Christmas songs are played. Furthermore, some stalls sell Christmas ornaments, clothing and dolls which are mostly handmade.