What is it about Christmas markets that makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside? Is it the smell of homemade cookies and other traditional Christmas pastries? Is it the decorations and the music? We’re not sure, but what we are sure of is this: Whatever it is, we love it. We love seeing different booths huddled together, managed by locals selling baskets filled with home-grown produce, crafts, toys, books and so much more depending on local traditions. That festive feeling combined with the coming together of a community is nothing short of lovely.
So we decided to dig deeper into Christmas markets and rather than list the best of the lot from around the world, which you can easily find while searching the Internet, we decided to introduce a twist on our overview of these markets. And it will go like this:
But first, a little history on Christmas markets because…why not?
Apparently, the first Christmas market dates back to the late thirteenth century in Vienna and legend has it that the Emperor allowed shopkeepers to come together and host a market for a couple of days so that the locals could stock up on supplies to help them through the harsh winter months. This market was known as Dezembermarkt (December Market). These December or winter markets came to be known as Christmas markets about a century later in Germany, where also the tradition of gift-giving became more commonplace. These markets flourished first in Munich, then in Bautzen and finally in Frankfurt. But more on Germany later…
The Biggest Market
This is by no means a scientific research and some may qualify other markets as the biggest. But for the sake of the Christmas spirit, we will not squabble here and we’ll simply say, “one of the biggest markets”.
In light of the above, the award for (one of) the biggest Christmas markets in the world goes to…The Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz.
Seems impressive, no?
The Country with the Most Christmas Markets
All research seems to point towards Germany. And before we go through these markets, let’s just say that Germany is renowned for its Christmas traditions and for having some of the oldest and (yes) best Christmas markets in the world. And the Germans take these markets very seriously and simply turn them into winter wonderlands by delivering some Yuletide magic.
Our research shows that there are over 100 Christmas markets in Germany and we are fairly sure each one brings something interesting to the table. The most referenced of these are listed here below, covering many areas across the country. So, let’s take you through the mother lode of Germany’s Christmas markets:
One of the oldest markets in the world. ‘Nuff said.
Feast your eyes on the world’s biggest nutcracker & the largest Christmas pyramid in Germany.
The historic distillery district simply makes a perfect backdrop for a Christmas village, with its 19th century houses lined on cobbled streets. Enjoy the locals’ take on gifts, food and crafts while enjoying carolers and other performers. End your day sipping on mulled wine while enjoying the view of a 55-foot illuminated silver fir tree.