4: German Christmas Markets - Christmas Shopping in Germany
is nothing so awe-inspiring in the pre-Christmas time as visiting
Christmas market. Every
its own little "Christkindlmarkt", which is a market-fest,
where people gather to enjoy the Christmas time. These Christmas
markets offer baked goods, sweets and toys and feature local
and regional specialties. Larger cities like Frankfurt or
Nuremberg have large Christmas markets, and attract many tourists,
both local and foreign. They open before the first Sunday
of Advent, around the time of Thanksgiving in the U.S., and
usually continue until December 24th at 12 noon. Nuremberg's
Christkindlesmarkt (Christ Child Market) is the most famous
and one of the oldest. The first official record of this pre-Christmas
market dates to 1628. A list of notices for stallholders from
1737 shows that nearly all of Nuremberg's craftsmen were represented.
Back then 140 persons were given the right to sell their wares.
In 1998 there were 190 stalls with 200 stallholders.
streets leading to the Christmas market are attractively decorated
with white poles bearing Christmas symbols, garlands of fir
and pretty lights. At the center of the market there is a
crib, its wooden figures telling the Christmas story. Every
visitor to the Christkindlesmarkt pauses to have a look at
it. The market stalls are decorated with branches of fir and
lit by lanterns. Most sell Christmas decorations, gold-foil
angels, little prune figures made of dried fruit and crepe
paper - the famous "Zwetschgenmaennle", spicy Lebkuchen
cakes and toys. The opening of the market is a very popular
festivity. At dusk the Nuremberg "Christkind",
who is newly elected every two years, recites a prologue from
the balcony above the entrance to the Frauenkirche, accompagnied
by festive music. Children sing carols in front of the church.
Little booths are lined up, and sell everything from hand-made
ornaments to musical clocks - playing slow, sad-sounding Christmas
tunes. The crisp wintry air is filled with the aroma of Stollen
(baked fruit bread), Bratwurst, roasted almonds, and
a spicy cookie. Another favorite is Gluehwein,
a red wine, which is heated up over fire and served in steaming
can pay to keep the Gluehwein mug, and thus save the memory
of the Christkindlesmarkt - German Christmas market.