A wonderful (pre-Christmas) holiday tradition that typically takes place outdoors in the
frigid cold weather throughout Germany is the open-air Christmas Market known as Christkindlmarkt which actually
translates to Christ childs market.
Once known as a simple Winter Market that started back in Germany during the 14th century
with a few booths and stalls selling mostly regional foods of the season, these fairs started offering numerous
"other" Christmas time goodies like candies, pastries, religious items, toys and trinkets and eventually evolved
into a beloved pastime!
Today Christmas Markets, recognized by name as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlmart,
Christkindelmarkt, Christkindelsmarkt, Adventmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt are offered in several cities throughout
Germany and are also becoming quite popular in cities across the USA too!
The Christkindlmarkt of today is very inviting as vendors typically set-up shop outdoors
near a scenic backdrop of historical buildings in a town square (platz) within an impressive maze of small colorful
tents and/or make shift timber-lined shacks all festively decorated with Christmas lights and seasonal offerings.
It's at night fall that all these illuminated booths, walkways and streets come alive with throngs of visitors and
tourist all seemingly in a merryfest mood.
It actually turns out that visitors to a Christmas Market really are Merry because there's
no way for anyone to escape this excitement!
The Christmas spirit hits you hard going to a Christkindlmarkt as you stroll around booth to
booth listening to the sounds of Christmas music and Christmas caroling that seems to be everywhere!
The aroma in the air catches your attention too from warm drinks being offered like warm
spiced cider, hot chocolate, coffee and the visitor favorite, "Glühwein" or
"Glow Wine" is a red wine & spice(s) concoction also known as Glühmost or Punsch which is simply a mulled or spiced wine
served warm. Other beverages, such as Weihnachtsbier (Christmas Beer) is also a
Listen to the jingle bells as children can visit Santa Claus, St Nick or
Kris Kringle at his very own workshop haus if the elves permit it.
There are some Christmas Markets that showcase a small petting zoo with deer and ponies and
some Christkindlmarkt's even offer the old-fashioned carousel rides and game booths too!
Smell that? I'm not talking just that cotton candy smell but the toasted almonds and hey
wait a minute... are those really chestnuts roasting on an open fire? So that's where that lyric came
At a Christmas Market one can experience the funside essence of the Christmas season as it
turns out to be the most perfect place to hob-knob and shop for unique Christmas gifts or souvenirs around for all
things handmade like wooden toys, Bavarian wood carvings and a variety of specialized sculpted seasonal
You can shop for imported dolls, ornaments, pottery, crystal ware, custom seasonal wreaths,
candles and ornaments plus you can even pick out a Christmas tree! Of course there's an array of traditional
Christmas trinkets, knick-knacks, jewelry and imported collectibles not to mention the hundreds of nativity scenes,
steins, nutcrackers, German pyramids, advent calendars, gingerbread houses and cuckoo clocks ... but certainly the
masses come to Christkindlmarkt for the different variety of German food!
Some typical food favorites at Christkindlmarkt one can enjoy are:
Stollen – or Christstollen sometimes
referred to as fruitcake is a traditional German Christmas bread with dried fruits, nuts, spices,
and sugar icing. There are different varieties.
Aachener Printen – a delicate, but delicious
Christmas cookie with protected designation of origin from Aachen, Germany.
Nürnberger Rostbratwürste - small
"charcoal-grilled" sausages a favorite from Nürnberg,
Spekulatius - are spicy pastry dough cookies prepared
from mostly cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg although it exist in different forms too including almond, butter,
Lebkuchen - or Pfefferkuchen (pepper
cake) are gingerbread seasoned biscuits
Bratäpfel - baked spiced apples
Gebrannte Mandeln – roasted almonds
Maronen – roasted chestnuts (on an open
Marzipanbrot – is made from almonds, sugar and
rosewater that is iced or dipped in chocolate. It is typically shaped like a loaf of bread or the alternative
Marzipankartoffeln which has a spherical shape.
Plätzchen - variety of delicately prepared Christmas
Of course you will have several pastries, cakes, and bread options from which to choose from
but many people enjoy the experience in purchasing a taditional bratwurst, baked potatoe, fish or sausage on a
stick grilled on an open-pit Schwenker. Very cool!
The tradition of German Christmas Markets are alive and thriving these days worldwide! In
most locations they usually open in the last week of November and close down for the season right after Christmas
Eve on December 24th.
Keep checking for a Christkindlmarkt coming near you or if you know of a new one or one that
we missed posting... let us know on the form below and be certain to include any photos and videos too!
Weihnachten! ( Merry Christmas! )
Christkindlmarkt's USA - Travel
LISTINGS STATE BY STATE - all