German Christmas markets are very popular. Almost every town or city has one. One of the best known worldwide is the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt.
This is what “Welcome to Germany” says about it:
Attracting two million visitors annually, Nuremberg Christmas market or Christkindlesmarkt is likely the most well-known outside of Germany. Its prominence lies in its traditional role as a marketplace for handcrafted wooden figurines and decorations. Early historical evidence of the market dates back to 1628.
By tradition, a teenage girl dressed as the Christmas Angel opens the Nuremberg market.(© dpa – Bildfunk)It is also known for the tradition of the Christkind or Christmas Angel, a girl dressed as an angel who opens the market on the Friday before the first advent Sunday by reciting a solemn prologue. The Christmas Angel is played by teenage girl from Nuremberg who is chosen to serve for a term of two years. In addition to appearances at the market the Christmas Angel also visits nursing homes, hospitals, kindergartens and other charitable institutions to bring Christmas cheer.
The city of Chicago has modeled its Christmas market on the Nuremberg market since 1996. The Chicago market is opened every year by the previous year’s Christmas Angel from Nuremberg.
Two weeks ago was the big opening and I went there for the first time ever, even though I have been living here for many years. Let me tell you, I know now how sardines must feel in their tin. The marketplace was so crowded you couldn’t get across. Before and during the ceremony all lights were out, so it was rather dark, only the church balcony was lighted. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the balcony because of all the stall roofs, so we could only hear what was being said. After the Christmas Angel had finished her prologue all stalls turned their lights on and we all felt blinded for a few seconds.
Afterwards we went to the children’s Christmas market which is on an adjacent square. It is smaller with a few old fashioned carousels and various booths where kids can get involved in various activities, like baking cookies or dipping candles. Then there is also the market of Nuremberg’s sister cities which is my favourite. It is small and next to the main market square. It is rather cosy, but not as crowded as the main market. You can buy food specialties, traditional clothes and (Christmas) goodies from all over the world as Nuremberg has quite a few sister cities from Venice to Atlanta, from San Carlos to Shenzen.
Has your town a Christmas market? What is it like?
Images from flickr users jwpriebe, Rai Manaf and Eva Sanagustin.