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Different Christkindl Markets of Germany

During the cold, dark, and occasionally wet nights of winter, in Germany one event is sure to bring some warmth into your evening. Christkindlmarkt! Germany is known for its medieval towns and quaint charm. This charm is brought to life at the Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkts. These are gatherings of small brightly lit huts, which line the streets and overflow from the square in the center of the old portions of town. Although most Christkindl markets are open from the mid-morning or around noon, the fun really begins sometime around four o’clock in the afternoon. The sun is beginning to set, the temperatures are dipping below freezing (sometimes temperatures are even in the single digits), the lights are beginning to dazzle and the gluhwein is simmering. Gluhwein is a spiced and heated red wine – a necessity in this cold as sipping this hot drink helps warm the cold evening. This is a perfect time to meet with loved ones and acquaintances and walk through the stalls of the market. The fun continues until well unto the evening.

One of the things that makes the Christkindl markets so special is that they are rarely commercialized. Yes, there are tons of advertisements and the huts are obviously vying for the attentions of passersby to their wares, the goods however do not have the mass-marketed, mass-produced feel that you will find in many of the department store Christmas sales. Here at the Christkindlmarkt one is able to find unique hand-hewn wooden figurines, delicate pyramids depicting village scenes, sturdy nutcrackers for breaking even the hardest of shells, every imaginable smoker man and the incense to fill them. Originally, Christkindl markets were for people to purchase the supplies they need in order to bring the Christmas holiday alive to their families, cookie cutters, baking goods, little toys and tools. Today not much has changed. Only instead of purchasing the supplies to make gingerbread cookies, or lubkchen, now you can purchase the cookies fresh baked. Instead of purchasing tools with which to make your own nutcrackers or wood Christmas ornaments, you are able to purchase the finished product at these German markets.

Baker Confectioner German Incense Smoker

Evidence of the simplicity of the Christkindl-markets can be found in the similarities of the German Christmas markets (in that they all sell pyramids, nutcrackers, smokers, etc.) and in their differences; they all have an emphasis or specialty. Following is a list of several of the Christmas markets and their specialties:

  • The Weihnactsmartkt in Berlin touts a huge life size pyramid (instead of candles it uses electric lights), a place for carolers to address the crowds.
  • The Christmas market of Dachau, in Bavaria, is renowned for its super-sized Advent calendar – big enough that as the windows open carolers and children dressed as angels perform.
  • The Christkindl-market of Nürnberger is one of the largest and specializes in selling glass foil Christmas ornaments that are handmade and painted.
  • The Island of Frauenchiemsee is located in the lake of Chiemsee and is accessed by ferry. On this island stands the tall medieval castle built by King Ludwig. This is a smaller Christkindl celebration, however one of the coziest! Nutcrackers are a favorite here!
  • The city of Bamberg in addition to their Christkindlmarkt has a nativity crib and trail where figurines join people to demonstrate different scenes in the story of the Christ Child. Spring Child Music Box
  • In Muchen, the Weihnactsmarket or German Christmas Market features a large ice-skating rink circled by little huts offering warmed drinks and woodcrafts like music boxes, nutcrackers and smokers.
  • Dresden has a Streizelmarkt, named after the famous stolen or German Christmas fruitcake, features a large Christmas tree (over 20 feet tall) as well as numerous booths. Some of these sell nutcrackers in the image of kings, after King Augustus the Strong, a former ruler of this region.
  • If you are looking for convenience, the Bonn Christkindlmarkt is a place to visit. It is a large city and mixes the commercialism and ease of department stores and the coziness of huts with their market. A stage reenacts nativity and other holiday scenes.
  • Leipzig, Germany, is known for its Linden Trees and has life size figurines at their Weinachtsmarkt depicting the nativity. You can find shaved miniature Christmas Trees here.
  • The Christkindl-markt of Kohl featured a carousel for children and you can find Räuchermann, or little smoking men there. These wood figurines are carved so that scented incense escapes from the mouth or smoking pipe.

If you are unable to go to Germany and visit one of the Christkindl-markets for yourself consider importing a little bit of the German Christmas market to your home with a handcrafted candle pyramid, a kingly nutcracker or a German smoker, and imagine the frosty air and the cozy huts. We wish you were here!

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