Day 2: The History of the Christmas Market.

Come late November, something magical begins to happen all across the world but especially in Europe.

Quaint stalls pop up in bustling capitals, small cities, and charming little villages, all signaling the start of the festive season.

As night falls, these stalls come to life in the warm glow of holiday lights. Laughter fills the air as children scurry about chasing one another. Adults come together and reminisce on the year as they look forward to the next. Stall owners delight in sharing with you their traditional handicrafts while the sweet aroma of chestnuts and delicious bratwurst fills the air. Carols are sung on high offering a surreal feel as if you’ve stumbled upon a true winter wonderland.

And you might ask yourself what are these joyous places?!

Simply called a Christmas Market, they can easily be found from London to Tokyo, Vienna to Prague, Paris to Cologne, and everywhere in between!

A highlight on any educational trip during the holiday period, Christmas Markets offer students and their teachers a place to relax and experience a truly magical side to many of these wonderful cities.

Having first been recorded in the year 1638, “Christkindlesmarkte” or Christmas Markets, are said to have originated in the German city of Nuremberg. Throughout the years, these markets have stayed true to their origins as being a place for locals, neighbors, friends, and visitors alike to gather after dark. They were and still are a mixture of al fresco shopping alongside food stalls.

Though electricity has paved the way for these markets to really shine, the streets and stalls used to be candle-lit offering an air of romanticism. It was under the comforting flicker of candles that merry goers would admire the unique toys, handicrafts, ornaments, and other gifts. As shoppers mulled about the stalls, with no urge to hurry, the sweet angelic sounds of choirs filled the air with traditional Christmas carols.

It is said that the original Nuremberg market was opened by a “Christ-Child”- not Jesus but rather a beautiful little girl. To this day, the city appoints a young girl who wears golden wings and a crown to serve as an ambassador and usher in the holiday season and the opening of the Nuremberg Christmas Market. For centuries, weary villagers and townspeople have looked to Christmas Markets as a place of joy and light during the long winter nights. 

Today, Christmas Markets still serve up that old world charm, but have in time evolved to offer over the top rides and games alongside the shops and food vendors. Gluhwein, stollen, bratwurst, and so many other delicious goodies can be found at today’s markets. I encourage you to check back later on in our series, where I’ll go in depth about what kind specialty items are waiting to be tried on your next student tour.

So, remember in this off year when things are not like they usually are, that there’s always something beautiful to look to and may that be a Christmas market for your travel yearning soul. With the combination of old world charm and tradition, Christmas Markets are here to stay as there’s nothing quite like it. They are a treasured custom that’s timeless and will put anyone in a festive mood!

As this post comes to an end, take comfort in the words that the “Christ-Child” shares annually, “little town within the city, which of cloth and wood is made; fleeting in its brief splendor, but everlasting throughout the ages.”

Until tomorrow,