"Christmas markets have been part of this festive time for centuries in Germany. They were usually held in front of churches and were looked at as part of a church visit.It was an opportunity for farmers to come to town, do some shopping and at the same time, offer their wares."
The reformation of the church in the 16th century brought changes to the Christmas markets.Nikolaus was replaced by the Christkindl (Christchild) as the gift giver and the Nikolaus markets became Christkindl markets.
Our city has hosted a Christkindl Market at the city hall for the past ten years. It begins each year with a candlelight procession through the streets, with Mary, Joseph, a couple of donkeys and the Christkindl, or Christchild. A living nativity is set up outdoors for the duration of the market. It was bitterly cold this year, and perhaps this was the first time Mary and Joseph drank coffee from styrofoam cups.There is carol singing outdoors during the opening ceremony, and many vendors set up to sell their wares during the next four days. We love going to this traditional European market, especially to try the delicious foods that are offered. Being outdoors in the cold does stimulate the appetite. You can choose from hot chocolate, hot goulash soup, potato pancakes, smoked fish, and of course an assortment of European baked goods such as stollen, tortes, and nut tarts. There is a skating rink where you can work off the food you ate or work up an appetite for more. Indoors you find a large selection of crafts, from candles and soap, to jewellery, carved nativities, advent trees, hand made toys, nutcrackers, and embroidered tableware. This colourful musician was there, with a stuffed monkey, playing his accordian and singing traditional songs of the season. Throughout the day and evening, various singers, choirs, and dancers perform in the rotunda of the city hall. There is no admission charge, so we go down a couple of times on the weekend just to watch the crowds, and soak up the festive atmosphere and try another delicious treat.