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.
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:
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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