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A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany and Austria but are now being held in many other countries.

History

The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. The Dresden 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 sixty stalls.[1] The Bautzen Christmas market was even older, first being mentioned in records in 1384.[2] The Vienna "December market" was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294.

In many towns in Germany and Austria, Advent 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, 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, or boy Jesus, acted out by a local child.

Attractions and stalls

Popular attractions at the market include the Nativity Scene (a crèche or crib), Zwetschgamännla (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), Christstollen (Stollen), a sort of egg bread with candied fruit, 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. Many other handmade items, toys, books, Christmas tree 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 Erfurt, Nuremberg, Dresden, Stuttgart and Augsburg making them popular tourist attractions.[3][4] The Nuremberg and Dresden markets draw about two million people each year; the Stuttgart market attracts more than three million visitors.

Strasbourg, France has been holding a Christmas market, "Christkindelsmärik," around its cathedral since 1570, when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire.[5]

Christmas markets are traditional in Alsace (an area of France with a heavy German influence) and most of the towns have their local Christmas market.

In 1982 Lincoln, England established an annual Christmas market in early December, and this remains 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. Large Christmas markets are also held in England in Leeds and Birmingham, with visiting traders from Frankfurt.[6] Glasgow, Manchester,[7] and Nottingham also hold similar markets; with Manchester having around 200 stalls in 2007, attracting nearly 1.2 million visitors over five weeks.

German immigrants also brought the Christmas market celebrations to the United States.[8][9][10][11][12]

Since 2007, a traditional Christmas market is held for the first time in Sibiu, Romania. 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, 2009, is also held in the Grand Square of the town Sibiu, has over seventy 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.[13]

See also

References

Further reading

Notes

  1. 573 Striezelmarkt in Dresden Schiller, M. (2007) Retrieved 8 July 2007
  2. Bautzen Christmas Market
  3. Christmas City Nuremberg Stadt Nürnberg, retrieved 8 July 2007
  4. Stuttgart Christmas Market Stuttgart Marketing, retrieved 8 July 2007
  5. Noël à Strasbourg Retrieved 8 July 2007
  6. Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham Birmingham City Council, 9 October 2007, retrieved 1 December 2007
  7. Manchester City Council - report on specialist markets 2008 Manchester City Council, 5 February 2008, retrieved 3 December 2009
  8. CHRISTKINDLMARKT BETHLEHEM ArtsQuest (2006), retrieved 8 July 2007
  9. . Christkindlmarket Chicago German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, 17 November 2006, retrieved 8 July 2007
  10. Denver Christkindl Market German American Chamber of Commerce Colorado Chapter. (2006), retrieved 8 July 2007
  11. Mifflinburg Christkindl Market
  12. Christkindlmarkt 2007 German-American Society of Tulsa, 1 May 2007, retrieved 8 July 2007
  13. Târgul de Crăciun din Sibiu

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