On November 25, 2009, Chicago will open it’s 14th annual Christkindlmarket, a month-long festival that celebrates a centuries-old German holiday tradition. What started in Chicago in 1996 as a simple 2-week event, has quickly turned into a 4-week extravaganza of lights, music, food, crafts, and other festive fun.
Chicago’s Christkindlemarket, held in Daley Plaza each year, is based on the spectacular German Christkindlesmarkts, which are believed to have originated in Nuremberg, Germany in the mid-16th Century. Christkindlesmarkt, comes from the mythical story of the Christkind, fairy-like being, dressed in a gold and white robe with a crown atop her golden hair. The Christkind, along with Santa Claus, is said to bring gifts to people around the world. Today, her likeness is the symbol for Chicago’s Christkindlmarket and many markets around the world.
Initially, the markets were created to allow German farmers to shop for and sell their goods all in one location. However, modern-day Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, as well as markets in Europe and in the US (including Chicago) have grown to incorporate lavish holiday displays, professional choirs, fantastic Bavarian food, and unique holiday gifts.
Although Nuremberg may be the birthplace of the Christkindlesmarkt, cities across Europe also participate in the tradition. Outside of Germany, Prague, Copenhagen, and even Lille, France, have some of the top Christmas markets on the continent.
In the United States, Chicago boasts that its Christkindlmarket is the largest and most renowned German winter holiday market. However, many other major US cities have quickly followed suit, including Denver and Philadelphia, hosting their version of this German holiday classic.
So, if you’re looking to get into the European holiday spirit, why not take a stroll through a Christkindlmarket! To find a Christkindlmarket or Christmas market near you, check out this list of Christmas markets around the world.