A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, Christkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now being held in many other countries. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that includes many eastern regions of France. The Christmas markets of Bautzen were first held in 1384.Dresden's Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434. Frankfurt was first mentioned in 1393, Munich in 1310 and Augsburg in 1498. In Austria, Vienna's "December market" can be considered a forerunner of Christmas markets and dates back to 1298.
In many towns in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas market or "Weihnachtsmarkt". In southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria, it is called a "Christkind(e)l(s)(i)markt" (German language, literally meaning "Christ child market"). Traditionally held in the town square, the market has food, drink and seasonal items from open-air stalls accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. On opening night at the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, and in some other towns, onlookers welcome the "Christkind" (originally boy Jesus, but often depicted as an angel-like girl), acted out by a local child.
Popular attractions at the markets include the Nativity Scene (a crèche or crib), Zwetschgenmännle (figures made of decorated dried plums), Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), Bratwurst, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market: Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg-based warm alcoholic drink). Both help stave off the cold winter air which sometimes dips below freezing. More regional food specialties include Christstollen (Stollen), a sort of bread with candied fruit in Saxony, and hot Apfelwein and Frankfurter Bethmännchen in Hesse.
Famous Christmas markets are held in the cities of Augsburg, Dresden, Erfurt, Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Stuttgart, making them popular tourist attractions during Christmas holiday season. The Nuremberg and Dresden markets draw about two million people each year; the Stuttgart and Frankfurt markets attract more than three million visitors. The two most visited Christmas markets in Germany are to be found in Dortmund with more than three and a half million visitors of 300 stalls around a gigantic Christmas tree creation that stands 45 metres tall, and in Cologne with 4 million people. Additionally, Berlin claims over 70 markets, which open in late November and close just after Christmas.
Christmas markets are traditional in Alsace and most of the towns have their local Christmas market.Strasbourg, in Alsace, France, has been holding a Christmas market, "Christkindelsmärik," around its cathedral since 1570, when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation.
In 1982 Lincoln, England established an annual Christmas market in early December, and this remains one of the most extensive such market by area in the United Kingdom, with a claimed total of over 300 stalls attracting more than 100,000 visitors over its four days. Starting in 1997 Frankfurt Christmas Markets were established with support from Frankfurt in the British Cities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester. Other large Christmas markets have been held in England in Bath (since 2000) or Liverpool (since 2006). The Christmas markets are such a success that they are becoming a major pull factor to increase trade and visitor numbers to towns and cities. Manchester's Christmas Markets have been particularly successful with 300 stalls over 8 city locations with each location being themed to create a different atmosphere such as French, World and German, with European themed stalls on the Albert Square, Manchester proving to be the most popular.
A special christmas market you can find in the Netherlands in the city of Valkenburg. About 100.000 visitors each year are going underground to see this market which is located in a grotto
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Christmas market in Jena
In Colmar, 2010
Christmas market in Erfurt
Christmas market in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg
Christkindlimärt in Rapperswil, Switzerland
Sternschnuppenmarkt in Wiesbaden, Germany
The Sibiu Christmas Market in Sibiu, Romania
Nikolausdorf- Christmas Market at Rudolfplatz, Cologne, Germany
The Christmas Market in Zagreb, Croatia
Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin
Fields Shopping Center Christmas event 2016 by Dewsevents Fields, Denmark