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Weihnachtsmarkt: Christmas market during the Advent

Weihnachtsmarkt is a very famous Christmas market which is set up during the four weeks of Advent as part of the Christmas celebrations. These markets are known to have originated from the countries like Austria, Germany, Eastern French regions of Lorraine etc. It is seen that the history of the Christmas markets go back to the middle ages to the German-speaking parts of Europe and also to the many parts of the Holy Roman Empire including some regions of eastern France and Switzerland.

In several towns of Germany and also Austria the Advent is usually filled with grand openings of the bright Christmas markets or Weihnachtsmarkt. These are usually held in the town square and even on the adjacent pedestrian zones. These markets sell drink, food, and even the seasonal items from the open-air stall which are accompanied by traditional singing along with some dancing. On the opening nights, the onlookers are seen as welcoming the Christ King which is usually acted out by a local child. This is especially seen in the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg.

Attractions and stalls

There are various popular attractions found in the market, and some of them are the Nativity Scene, which is often a crèche or a crib. The Zwetschgenmännle, which is usually figures made up of decorated dried plums, the Nussknacker, they are carved Nutcrackers, also the GebrannteMandeln a candied or toasted almonds, even the traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot. They are both forms of soft gingerbread, Bratwurst. Also for many of the visitors, it is one of the highlights of the market. The Glühwein, which is a hot mulled wine which is served with or without a shot of brandy, or Eierpunsch, this is an egg-based warm alcoholic drink. They all help you stay off the winter cold which mostly dips below freezing point. Various other local specialties include the Christstollen, which is a type of egg bread with candied fruit in Saxony, and the hot Apfelwein and FrankfurterBethmännchen in Hesse. Apart from all this, you will find many homemade items like handmade toys, books, ornaments, Christmas tree decorations in the market.

As Germany is very well known for the different Christmas markets held, they are now located throughout Austria and also Germany. These stunning open-air markets consist of gorgeous lightings and little huts decorated selling homemade crafts figurines along with carved toys. They are made of shaved and polished wood, picture windows, also dainty ornaments like the snitz and even Moravian stars with some tiny figurines. Also, songs can be heard coming from music boxes and cuckoo clocks. These items are imported directly from Germany to the Christmas markets held in the United States.

There is an interesting history related to the development of these festive markets which are set up. Initially in Germany, the winter holiday was called the Saint Nicholas’ feast day on the 6th of December. This was the time when friends and family used to gather and give presents to kids on the behalf of this saint. After the rise of Marti n Luther and also the Reformation when Germany had become a part of the theProtestant nation, this Saint Nicholas’ feast diminished in its festivities. It became difficult for the Protestants to eliminate the much-awaited festive day simply. Mainly because the days were cold and dreary and also the people needed some good activity that would brighten the winter months. As a solution to this, the Protestants replaced what they thought as a Catholic holiday, i.e., the Saint Nicholas’ feast day with the celebrations on a new day which is on December 25th for the birth of Baby Jesus.

Also instead of Saint Nick gifting the children with beautiful gifts, a new legend came up wherein the Christ Child would be giving gifts to everyone on the Christmas Eve. There are also rumors that he would come with the gifts riding on a mule by traveling through closed doors. Even today we do remember Saint Nicholas as “Father Christmas” or even Santa Claus, the impersonations of him could be found in shopping malls around the globe. You will find Santa figurines in the Christmas markets of Germany.

There is a period of Advent before the actual Christmas Day celebrations which is an anticipation of the arrival of the Christ. Now this period is identified as the four Sundays before Christmas. Initially, it used to last for six weeks which began in the last week of November. The Protestants acknowledged this Catholic tradition during their era. They recognized the full length of the advent part in the form of Christmas markets and shopping centers the way it is done around the world by extending the shopping season of the holidays starting from the last week in the November to the Christmas Eve.

It is during this time that the farmers, artisans, and tradesmen would meet around the churches. These gatherings gradually became open-air markets. Also, one of the first documented open markets was held in 1310 on 25th December in Munich, Germany. The original celebrations consisted of gatherings around the church area along with songs, small gifts and also food. These slowly became hit with the local people. Also, people started coming and setting up shops in the streets around the area of the church where they could sell homemade crafts. These crafts were usually timeless and could be found in the markets even today. Some of the items include cuckoo clocks, shaved wood along with the tree ornaments, nutcrackers. Even favorite food items like the grilled Bratwurst, baked apples, warm spiced wine and gingerbread cookies could be bought.

Nuremberg was one of the earliest cities to give a name to this celebration and called it the “Christkindlsmarkt.” Just like the center of the German pyramids, the Christ Child was also the center of all these festivities. Christkindlsmarkt is a word used typically in German, which when translated means “Christ child market.” Even today, markets in Stuttgart, Munich, Dresden, Salzburg, etc. all begin with a welcome of the Christkindl. It consists of a local youth being dressed as an angel along with choirs singing beautiful Christmas carols.

Usually, a typical Christmas market is situated alongside the streets and also features large decorated trees which are provided by the city also the nativity scenes. These markets are mostly visited during the evening hours when the twinkle lights can be appreciated easily. Apart from all this, these Christmas markets are very well known and appreciated for the excellent quality of craftsmanship which is found and displayed in the form of popular German nutcrackers, shaved wooden tree ornaments, cuckoo clocks, German smokers who characterize the occupations of all kinds, and angelic figurines. The best part is, these crafts all vary from the mass produced wares that are found in the American stores and remind us of a less complicated and slower era.