When the clock strikes 17:30, the city plunges into darkness. Not a single sound breaks the silence, not a single heart remains indifferent. It’s the time of magic, holidays, gingerbread, mulled wine and Christmas. It’s the time when one of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany opens, and it is special for a few reasons.
History and traditions
Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt has an about 400-year-old tradition and is one of the oldest markets in Germany. Since 1948 each year it is opened with a prologue recited by a „Christkind“ (the English version of the prologue can be found here: http://www.christkindlesmarkt.de/en/christkind/the-festive-opening-ceremony-and-prologue-1.2373140). The Christkind tradition goes back to the times of Martin Luther who wanted to separate from the Catholic church and decided to present children with gifts on Christmas Eve. The presents were believed to be brought by „Holy Christ“, which eventually turned into a Christkind character. So each year, before the first Advent, a beautiful golden angel goes up the stairs to the observation point of the Frauenkirche at the Marktplatz and greets all the citizens with the beginning of the festive Christmas time.
Who is this Christkind?
It is an ordinary girl from Nuremberg at the age of 16-19 years and not shorter than 160 cm. She is selected by a special jury and citizens every two years and becomes a special ambassador of Christmas 🙂 This means that she travels to other cities (and countries), visits kindergartens and hospitals, and, of course, spends time at the Christmas market. For the years 2015 and 2016 this mission has been granted to Barbara Otto and you can meet her every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. at the Christkindlesmarkt.
So it’s just the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt?
No, Nuremberg invites you to visit at least three Christmas markets at a time (situated near one another) and „travel“ to at least 18 other countries (and even to my home-country – Ukraine :)). Alongside with the main Christmas market, you can find the International Sister Cities Market (Markt der Partnerstädte) and the Children’s Christmas market (Kinderweihnacht).
This year at the International market you can see such countries as the USA, the UK, Turkey, Cuba, Italy, Spain, China and many more. What is fantastic about it is that, on the one hand, you can talk to people from all over the world, buy a souvenir from another country or try local traditional cuisine. On the other hand, if you are an international yourself, you can visit your home-country there!
The Children’s market is simply a delight for your eyes, stomach and children. Each house is decorated according to a special theme (mostly fairy-tales). A two-tiered carousel, a mini Ferris wheel and a steam railway readily greet every child (I wish I was a child). You can also participate in a number of workshops like Christmas baking, candle making or handicrafts – so it’s a real sweet heaven in the middle of the city.
Peculiarities or Why Nuremberg?
- Mulled wine or Glühwein. This tradition is wide spread all over the Germany, but each city adds a bit of its own flavor to this drink. Moreover, you can meet here families that have been producing wine for generations! The prices vary from 2 euros (in the cafes nearby the main square) to 3.50 euros (at the market). Also don’t forget to visit The Largest Punch Bowl in the World / Feuerzangenbowle (a rum-soaked sugar cone is set on fire and drips intomulled wine, which creates the special flavor of the punch)
- Gingerbread cookies or Nürnberger Lebkuchen. The first recordings of Lebkuchen in Nuremberg can be traced back to 1395, and these sweets still remain most famous trademark of the city. And not without a reason! These cookies go with all kinds of ingredients and fillings (nuts, candies fruits, spices) and sometimes with cute inscriptions on the top.
Grilled sausages or „Drei im Weggla“. These are my personal favorites because they are nourishing, tasty and have a reasonable price 🙂 Moreover, they also belong to the regional specialties and are delivered by the local traders.
- And many other tiny things like hand-made decorations for a Christmas tree (mainly from wood), cute Nutcrackers of all sizes, Zwetschgenmännle (prune men) made of nuts and dried prunes, Christmas music, thousands of voices and the smell of sweets in the air.
So don’t miss the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt that waits for you each day from 10:00 a.m. till 9:00 p.m. up to the day before Christmas Eve. An interactive map of the market can be found here: http://www.christkindlesmarkt.de/en/christmas-market/catalogue-of-market-stalls.