Today I go all sentimental on you:I’ll introduce you to the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt which have visited as a child.
My grandmother had a cousin and good friend living in Nuremberg so we went there quite often but I was especially excited at Christmastime because even in the 70’s the Christkindlesmarkt was an experience. We lived about 2 hours away to the south-east from Nuremberg so it wasn’t that bad a drive.
The Christkindlesmarkt is the most famous of the German Christmas Markets and was mentioned since the 16reds. Even though the origins are not clear historians assume it developed from the weekly food markets and has only stopped between 1939 and 1948 and we all know why that was.
Yes, Nuremberg has its dark history but it has done a lot to work through its Nazi past and learn from it. Since the end of the war, the city worked hard to keep itself international and develop good relationships with its neighbours and countries from all over the world.
One sign of that is a part of the Christkindlesmarkt called “Market of the Sister Cities”. There are stalls that sell products from Nuremberg’s twin cities and I was astonished to see how many it has.
For me as a child, the “Christkind” and the “Kindermarkt” was the most important bit. The “Christkind” is a German character at Christmastime which is Christ as a child but in Nuremberg, it is enacted by girls. There is a competition of girls between 16 and 19 every two years and it is a great honour to be chosen as the Christkind. But it’s also quite a task.
Every Friday the Christkind has to speak the prologue standing on the balcony of the church. The prologue is a speech to welcome visitors to the market and was introduced by Friedrich Broeger at the first post-war Christkindlmarkt in 1948. It has been re-written several times since but reminds us of how we are still children inside and how giving not only to our own but the poor all over the world is an important part of Christ’s message.
I actually got tears in my eyes when I read the translation as I darkly remember standing in the middle of the square looking up at the Christkindl. The whole square was pretty dark but the girl on the balcony shone like an angel as all lights were on her. It was just such a solemn but amazing atmosphere. I believe it would be as exciting for children and adults today.
The Christlkindlesmarkt is actually more three markets. There is the main market where you can purchase mainly German products, the Market of the Sister Cities and the Children’s market where you can find stalls which are heated and where your children can do many activities like baking cookies or create Christmas decorations. These activities are for free but you have to pay for the merry-go-rounds.
The main attractions product-wise on the Christkindlesmarkt are the “Gluehwein”, Nuremberg sausages, “Lebkuchen” and “Zwedgenmaennle”. “Gluehwein” of course is mulled wine and you better go easy on it. It is a pretty strong brew. Nuremberg sausages are small but delicious sausages which are sold in a bun in threes. All good things come in threes as they say and I can assure you it is true even though I am not eating them anymore ;-). “Lebkuchen” is gingerbread and comes in all forms and sizes. I loved the huge gingerbread hearts you can buy there and hang around your neck. “Zwedgenmaennle” on the other hand are little figures made out of dried plums, nuts and raisins and look just too cute. We had one at home too but it is long gone since.
If you can spare a weekend at Christmastime or even a few days within the week then go and visit the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt. It certainly is an experience of a lifetime.
But make sure you book hotels, flights and train tickets well in advance as it is very popular and pretty expensive if you do it short term.
Video credit Don Scott via YouTube