Bautzen, Germany

The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. The Dresden Christmas market – first held in 1434 – is often (incorrectly) said to be the oldest Christmas market. It attracts between 1.5 and 2 million visitors a year and has over 60 stalls (booths). It is very unlikely that the Dresden market is really the oldest, as the city was a small town in 1434 and other cities earned market rights. One example is the Bautzen Christmas market, which was first mentioned in records in 1384. The Vienna “December market” was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294.

Vienna, Austria

In many towns in Germany and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas market or “Weihnachtsmarkt”. In southern Germany and Austria it is also sometimes called a “Christkind(e)l(s)markt” (Southern Germany, literally meaning “Christ child market”). Generally held on the town square and adjacent pedestrian zones, the market sells food and drink from open-air stalls with other seasonal items and traditional singing and dancing. On opening nights (and in some towns more often), onlookers welcome the “Christkind”, or boy Jesus, acted out by a local child.

Nürnberg, Germany
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