Christmas Markets

It’s time again for the Weihnachtsmärkte. Stuttgart’s Christmas Market runs from 29 November to 23 December. Uwe and I always go to drink a glühwein with friends. You should, too!

The Christmas Market began as a short winter market. [1] Europe has held seasonal markets for centuries. Vienna, Austria’s Dezembermarkt dates all the way back to 1294/1296. But a Weihnachtsmarkt is special, and signals the beginning of the Advent season leading up to Christmas. This tradition is found in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Alsace region of France. [2]

The Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt

Medieval guilds tightly controlled who could produce or sell wares, so each city market was unique and had a distinct, regional flavor. This remains true today. At a German Christmas Market, you’ll find these items for sale at open-air booths:

  • Tin, blown glass, wooden, and straw ornaments
  • Round wooden presses or molds for cookies known as Springele
  • Nutcrackers
  • Gebrannte Mandeln (candied toasted almonds)
  • Magenbrot and Lebkuchen gingerbread (Lebkuchen is often sold in beautiful and reusable decorative tins)
  • Eierpunsch (eggnog)
  • Candles

  • Clothes, including hand knit hats and gloves and scarves
  • Hot sausages and
  • Glühwein: a magical drink of mulled wine served from huge brass vats, with a shot of liquor added if you want to get extra-warm [2]

Our city of Stuttgart’s Weihnachtsmarkt is famous for its decorated booth roofs.

The market attracts more than 3,000,000 visitors each year! Tour busses pull up and unload shoppers from all over Europe. The Weihnachtsmarkt takes over several piazzas downtown; the 3x weekly Wochenmarkt for fresh produce and flowers moves to the Königstraße, the main pedestrian street.

A huge carousal, lit up and spinning
This larger-than-life nutcracker eats a constantly revolving nut

I try to go a couple times each year. I head for the weekly market for fruits and vegetables and then meet a friend for a Bratwurst and a Glühwein. Or I arrange to meet Uwe after work.

We wend our way through rows of booths, enjoying hearing so many different languages along with the local Schwäbisch dialect.

Stuttgart’s Christmas Market

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2017. Last photo courtesy of Wikipedia; all other photos © Jadi Campbell 2017. [1] Also called Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlesmarkt, or Christkindlmarket. [2] The tradition has since spread to Romania, England, and other countries. [3] Nothing is worse than a glass of hot Glühwein if the weather refuses to get properly cold. It’s just, wrong, on too many levels….[4]

NOTES on NOTES: [4] ….and nothing is better than a starry winter night, a hot mug of Glühwein, snow gently falling as you stand with your sweetie, the sounds of talk and laughter of other Weihnachtsmarkt visitors all around you as carolers sing in the courtyard of the 16th century castle across the plaza. Prosit, und Fröhe Weihnachten!

Go to my earlier post A Guy Goes to a Christmas Market to read an excerpt set in the Stuttart Weihnachtsmarkt. Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.



13 thoughts on “Christmas Markets”

  1. It’s so interesting to read this. And the medieval roots that you tell us about makes it all the more interesting. Last week we happened to come across a Swedish version of the small-town Christmas market. A pity I didn’t bring my camera, so the pictures aren’t that flashing but still, it was a very surprising thing to see. Christmas markets are nothing uncommon in Sweden, and as we arrived after dark (i.e., after 4 p.m.), the market itself was all but finishing. But in its place the Christmas parade was getting started. The place was Brålanda, a rural village north of Gothenburg with 1500 inhabitants.The Brålanda Christmas parade, as we learned later, has been in the Guinness book of records for having the world’s greatest number of Santas in the parade. It took over an hour for all the carriages and wagons to pass by. If you want to have a look:

  2. Visiting this market looks like great fun! It’s interesting that each one can sell only certain items. I’d head right for those baskets and of course the gluhwein! The rooftop decorations are wonderful too, and what a carousel!

    1. Regional specialties get emphasized – I think the guild rules have relaxed a little over the centuries 🙂 By the way – different areas are known for their particular kind of Glühwein, too!

  3. Here in the US we have a Christkindlmart locally. It’s always fun and full of surprises. Yes, it’s best in very light snow. Proper weather helps to get the Christmas spirit.

  4. Reading your story and viewing all the wondrous photos is quite a treat for me, and a wonderful insight into the festivities that are happening in Europe at this time of year.

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