Christmas markets – 600 years old, but more popular than ever before

German Christmas markets are regarded as something very special. In the shadow of illuminated half-timbered houses, historic buildings or even castles, under festively decorated Christmas trees, man seems to banish all discord and deviancy from his chest.

Christmas is the feast of peace, who would want to think of something evil? One discovers with a cup of mulled wine in one hand, and a spicy piece of gingerbread in the other, rather similarities, than dividing arguments. Between colorful kiosks loaded with cookies, nuts, Christmas fruit bread, printen-pastry and all sorts of shiny Christmas decorations, listening to the Christmas carols, becomes an irresistible savory moment for body and soul.

Its 600-year-old tradition has been preserved to this day, and it is spreading more and more throughout the world. Christmas markets have long since become export hits. In New York, Philadelphia or Chicago, Americans want to have their Christmas market. The same applies to Central and South America, where Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, and Lima, for example, have their own Christmas markets. They also exist in Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Hong Kong or Shanghai. The image of the Christmas market is international – and yet sales stalls, wreaths of lights and mulled wine have remained typically German.

It is hardly surprising that the German Christmas markets attract masses of tourists year after year towards the last stretch of December. In Nuremberg, in Dresden, but also in Salzburg, Austria or Vienna, even in Strasbourg or Colmar, the French Alsace, the number of Asians and Americans, not to mention Italians, Englishmen, Irish or Spaniards, seems to increase all the time. And these are perhaps only the best-known markets because there are more than four hundred Christmas markets in the German-speaking world.

Most of the guests stock up with typical souvenirs before returning to their homes. Maybe some original Nuremberg gingerbread or Christmas fruit bread from Dresden. And those who like it more durable can pack the famous smoking men and nutcrackers from the Ore mountains into their suitcases. They sure take the memory along with themselves, that a journey to the German Christmas markets is one of the most beautiful trips there is.