A Christmas Tradition Born in Germany in the Middle Ages Continues

Now Celebrated Internationally, the Christkindlmarkt Has a Vibrant Presence in America

In Milwaukee – the Most German of U.S. Cities – a Willwork Global Event Services Client Plays a Central Role in the Holding of the Christkindlmarkt

(Header image: Christkindlmarket Chicago in 2014; image credit: True Shot Studios.)

On October 17, Willwork Global Event Services published in this space a post about the history of harvest and agricultural fairs and festivals. 

Please click here to be taken to the post.  

Included in the post was a discussion of Oktoberfest, an annual autumn event celebrated around the world that has its origins in Munich, Germany in the early 1800s.

In that we are in the holiday season, we felt it appropriate to feature here another annual event that started in Germany and which grew to take place internationally.

We are talking about the Christkindlmarkt– a Christmas market that is a type of street festival held during the season of Advent, the approximately four-week period in the Christian calendar that leads up to Christmas. 

Christkindlmarkt is German for “Christ child market” – yet the term Christkindlmarkt, as it relates to the event, has become more widely accepted as referring to and meaning the Christmas spirit. 

Christkindlmarkts are also known as German Christmas markets, German holiday markets, and Christmas markets. 

Christmas markets have open-air stalls where vendors sell food, drink, arts, and crafts. There is music and plays and other theater.  Large displays and exhibits adorn the landscape of the markets.

A genuine Chriskindlmarkt will retain and celebrate German heritage.

There will be a nativity scene, zwetschgenmännle (decorative figures made out of dried plums, and nussknackers (ornate carved nutcrackers).   

Available will be German foods like bratwurst, goulash, and the hot mulled wine glühwein; beer; gebrannte mandolin (roasted candied almonds); the gingerbreads lebkuchen and magenbrot, and stollen, a soft bread into which fruit is woven; potato pancakes; and lentil soup.

German music will be heard throughout the market.

A true German Christmas market will feature the arrival of the Christkind, the golden-haired spritely child angel that is the traditional Christmas giver in Germany and other countries in Europe, and also in parts of Brazil, in Hispanic America, and the Acadiana section of Louisiana.

Benigna Munsi, dressed as the Christkind,, standing on the balcony of of the Church of Our Lady in Nuremberg, opens the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt (image credit: Matthias Schrader / AP)

The Striezelmarkt, in Dresden, is the oldest Christmas market, having first opened in 1434, and has been held for 585 consecutive years. 

Even during World War II, a year did not go by without a Striezelmarkt, as Dresden would not sustain any major Allied attack until the aerial bombings of February 13-15, 1945.

Today, the Striezelmarkt draws 2 million visitors.

Prior to Christmas markets, there were December markets held across the Holy Roman Empire, the earliest record of which is in Vienna in 1298.

For sure, the locus of Christmas market culture and activity remains in Germany.  

Consider that in Berlin alone there are 70 Christmas markets.  

Probably the most visited Christmas market on earth is the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, which every year draws about 4 million attendees.  In second place for annual attendees, with 3.5 million, is the Dortmund Christmas Market

Christmas markets in Stuttgart and Frankfurt have annual attendances in the neighborhood of 3 million.  Two million visit the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt.

Please click here to be transported to a story “Germany’s Best Christmas Markets in 2019,” written by Meeroona, and published at Travel Away, the digital travel publication she co-founded, managed, and to which she regularly contributes.

Christkindlmarkts in the United States

Yes, the Christkindlmarkt – the German Christmas market, German holiday market, the Christmas market – is an international phenomenon.

Some of the best Christkindlmarkts anywhere on the planet are in the U.S. of A.  

One of these Christkindlmarkts that Willwork just has to point to is the Christkindlmarket Milwaukee, an authentic German Christmas market held in the most German of American cities.

We are compelled to highlight this market because it takes place along the plaza of Fiserv Forum, the sports, entertainment, and conventions venue to which Willwork client Fiserv – a worldwide leader in financial services technology – holds naming rights. 

Christkindlmarket (the spelling is Anglicized) Milwaukee launched last year, and last year also took place on the Fiserv Forum plaza.   

Christkindlmarkt Milwaukee – which runs this year from November 15 through December 25 – is one of three Christkindlmarkts organized and run annually by German American Events, LLC, a subsidiary of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc. (GACC Midwest).

Extending beyond the U.S. Midwest, the United States is an area strong and well populated with German lineage. 

Christkindlmarket Chicago – held every year since 1996 – is the first German holiday market that GACC Midwest established.  It is also the largest and best attended in the U.S.  

Located at Daley Plaza – the dates of the event this year November 15 through December 24 – Christkindlmarket Chicago brings in more than 1 million visitors, and hosts a vast and varied roster of vendors and events.

In 2017, GACC started its second Christkindlmarkt, also in Chicago, in the neighborhood of Wrigleyville, along Gallagher Way.

Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville has been a major success.  Dates for its 2019 run are November 22 through December 31.

America is a home to many wonderful and well-planned, well-orchestrated, inspiring, and fun Christkindlmarkts.

To learn about some of these Christkindlmarkts, we recommend clicking here to be taken to a story, “23 Best German Markets Across the U.S.,” written by Courtney Campbell, and published in October in the online entertainment and news outlet Wide Open Country.

You still have time to take in a Christkindlmarkt.

Willwork Global Event Services wishes all Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

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