Nuremberg Christmas Market (Christkindlesmarkt) is one of the most famous in the world. Every year thousands of visitors throng its crowded streets, craning over each other to get a glimpse of the Christkind, admiring the Christmas decorations, shopping for presents, quaffing mulled wine and enjoying this festive atmosphere.
Nuremberg Christmas Market – Chriskindlesmarkt
Christkindlesmarkt could be translated word for word as “Christ Child Market”. The Nuremberg Christkind or Christ Child, a young woman dressed in white and gold, with curly blond hair, a tall golden crown and angel-wing-like long golden sleeves, is an important part of the market. Initially impersonated by an actress, since 1969 the Christkind has been elected every second year among local girls between 16 and 19 years of age. A large number of competitors enter via the Internet, finally a jury chooses the next Christkind out of several finalists who have to be at least 1,60m tall and free from giddiness as the Christkind has to make her speech from the church balcony, secured with a rope, possibly in inclement winter weather.’ Wikipedia
Earlier this year I was invited to attend the Germany Travel Mart in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bavaria, along with a number of other journalists and bloggers from around the world. Not only did we have a chance to explore this historic city, but Germany Travel arranged for us to get a flavour of the Christmas Market; in the atrium of the magnificent Town Hall they recreated a ‘mini-me’ version with many of the original stalls. It was magical.
The first thing we did was get some mulled wine, warming, spicy and we got to keep the mug too. I was particularly intrigued by the lady making Christkinds and angels out of stiffened, coloured card. She explained that the tradition of the Christkind, or Christchild, is found throughout Europe, dating back hundreds of years. Seen as the gift-giver in many Protestant and Catholic countries, the Christkind has also been associated with Saint Nicholas, delivering his presents to children at this festive season.
We watched the Schmidt bakers making Lebkuchen, the traditional soft gingerbread that is eaten at Christmas, and now available all year round. The Nuremberg type of “Lebkuchen” is also known as “Elisenlebkuchen” and must contain no less than 25 percent nuts and less than 10 percent wheat flour. The finest artisian lebkuchen bakeries in Nuremberg boast close to 40% nut content. [Wikipedia] On other stalls were bigger, iced hearts, made from a harder type of Lebkuchen, which last longer. I bought a couple to hang on our Christmas Tree, carefully wrapped to survive the flight. (They did!)
In one corner of the square a brightly-lit carousel twirled round. Perched very elegantly on a white horse, clearly enjoying herself, was The Christkind. She smiled happily to us, whilst behind her giggled two angels, all of them thoroughly obviously very happy to have the opportunity to be seen at this time of year. Needless to say, Christmas is their busiest time but during the year, the Christkind visits schools, hospitals etc around the city.
I love the wooden decorations you find at German Christmas Markets. They’re usually intricately made, with exquisite details, ranging from tiny stars to complete Nativity Scenes. Another specialty is the walnut carvings, featuring minute figures and scenes within the shell of the nut. One of the stalls had beautifully painted ceramic buildings, many of them well-known in Nuremberg. Needless to say, the home of the city’s most famous artist, Albrecht Durer House was on display.
The smell of grilled meat hovered over the market stalls and I was drawn to the stand selling the renowned Nürnberger bratwurst . What these little sausages lack in size, they more than make up for in taste. Weighing no more than 25 grams and to be no longer than 9cm, they are made from the best quality minced pork (NOT sausage meat) and spiced up with pepper, marjoram and mace. A trio were popped into a crusty bun and I wandered off to savour a tasty end my brief visit to Nuremberg Christmas Market.
Quirky Travel Fact: when not in use, the market stalls are stored at the Nazi Party Rally Ground on the outskirts of the city. During my trip I did the Video Tour of this infamous site, which gives an invaluable historical insight to this traumatic period of Nuremberg’s past. Watch out for my Top Tips for visiting Nuremberg in a future article.
.Many thanks to Germany Travel for inviting me. I travelled to Germany with Lufthansa and stayed at the Nuremberg Holiday Inn Express. For more information about Nuremberg Christmas Market and Germany, visit Germany.travel.