Germany is very well known for its influence on Christmas traditions. A lot of them over spilled into other countries, which is surprising when you think about how late in history did the country unify. One of the most famous marks of the season is the Christmas Market. So what are traditions of said Markets in Germany?
- Christmas Markets: kinda old
Before there were Christmas Markets, there we winter markets. Running for a couple of days, these allowed the city folk to stock up on goods for the worst months of winter. The earliest known occurrence of winter market was Vienna (Austria) was the “December Market” in 1298.
However, craftsmen and other tradesmen quickly noticed that it’s a good occasion to relieve townsfolk of their money, and started joining the markets. Probably the first true Christmas Market was the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, which dates back to 1434.
- The Christmas purchasing craze is just as old
So you have your food producers as well as goods manufacturers hanging out in one place, selling goods. They were so large that in 1737, every craftsman in Nuremberg attended the year’s Christmas Market. That’s 140 sellers in the middle of 18th century.
At the same time, the complaints about the commercialization of Christmas is similarly as old. A Nuremberg priest in 1616 complained that nobody attended Mass on Christmas Eve because everyone was out shopping. They didn’t have Starbucks back then, so War on Christmas is probably a much newer phenomenon.
- It’s all about the local flavor
Christmas Markets were very much closed to well produced in other towns and regions – nobody wants competition! That’s why you could pick up very different things depending on where you went for your Christmas shopping.
Today, the markets are a lot more open. Some traditions unify them, like the presence of gluhwein (perfect for warming up, even in the face of climate change) and cookies. However, each of them is unique in some way. Nuremberg has its traditional gingerbread goods, while Berlin hosts a bunch of scattered smaller markets as the city used to more akin to a combination of a bunch of smaller towns.
- Prepare for Christmas Early
Everyone has heard about Christmas season starting earlier and earlier in the stores. What can you do, capitalism demands your money. However, Christmas Markets only go on for about a month and start out in the middle of November (usually – Germany is big and every place has different traditions).
So if you want some real handcrafted and/or decorations – crackers, wooden figurines, straw stars, smokers (wooden sculptures that “smoke” incense), cookie tins, glass balls, toys, and tin tree ornaments, etc. – then there’s no better place to visit than a Christmas Market.
With Christmas Market being a month long event, you are can hardly miss them due to a single flight disturbance. However, a flight delay, cancellation or overbooking can still throw a wrench into your plans. So why not claim flight compensation via Skycop? You stand to gain up to €600 in compensation, and that’s a lot of money that can be spent on magnificent gingerbread cookies!