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Christmas Markets

Submitted by on November 30, 2014 – 9:34 amNo Comment

czech-rep_prague_christmas“Christkindl Markt” is German for “Christ Child Market” — hence the term describing the popular open-air markets that spring up this month in countries with Christian-majority populations.

Featuring seasonal goodies (including gingerbread and hot, spiced wine), the outdoor kiosks generally set up in town squares specialize in everything Christmasy, from festive ornaments to handmade gifts.

The first were in Germany (Dresden claims the first in 1484), and that country probably claims the most, at least 70. These days there are holiday markets throughout Europe and North America.

Here are some to sample this holiday season:

The largest Christmas market in Dresden, Germany, is the Striezelmarkt. Through December 24, 2014, you’ll find the “world’s tallest” nutcracker, the “world’s tallest Christmas pyramid along with thousands of twinkling lights. Foodie specialties here are Stollen (The iconic Dresden cake flavored with dried fruit and marzipan and covered with powdered sugar) and Pflaumentoffel, the figure of chimneysweep crafted from dried prunes.

Another German market with medieval roots is the one in Nuremberg. Its stalls are strictly policed to be sure that nothing modern or machine-made is sold. Foodies relish the Nuremberg “plum people” (small figures made from prunes), spicy gingerbread, sweets and Nuremberg sausages. it’s open through December 24, 2014.

Cologne, Germany, has several Christmas markets, but the most famous is held in the public spaces around the cathedral (which contains relics of the Three Magi). The must-taste at the Am Dom’ Market, open through December 23, 2014, is Glühwein (mulled wine).

Stuttgart, Germany is said to host one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe. Open through December 23, 2014, the main market at the Old Palace is open through December 23, 2014. Nearby are two more must-see markets: Ludwigsburg to the north and Esslingen to the southeast.

Prague, Czech Republic, has many Christmas markets, most open through New Year’s Day: Old Town and Havel Square in Old Town, Wenceslas Square and Republic Square, Peace Square and the Holešovice Exhibition Grounds. In addition to the shops selling candles, decorations and candy you’ll find choral presentations and other cultural programs.

Punch, mulled wine and other hot drinks can be found at most Christmas markets, but they’re the centerpiece of the one in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Head to “punch town” on the Upper Square for wine and punch with various spices, sweet and bitter, improved with rum, cherry brandy or orange — through December 23, 2014.

In Brno, Czech Republic, look for a Christmas village with market stalls in Freedom Square, through December 29, 2014. There’s also a giant Christmas tree and a carved nativity scene made by Ji?í Halouzek.

Vienna, Austria, has a Christmas market in front of the Schönbrunn Palace. Vendors from Austria and neighboring countries offer traditional handicrafts, Christmas decorations, gifts, food and drinks through December 26, 2014.

The medieval square in front of the Golden Roof in Innsbruck, Austria, is transformed into a traditional Christmas Market, where you can shop and sample Tirolean fare through January 6, 2015.

Christkindlmarket Chicago, inaugurated in 1996, takes place right downtown on Daley Plaza, the Loop, Chicago, Illinois, through December 24, 2014. Foodies should not miss the stollen at the Dinkel’s Bakery kiosk.

A Christkindl Market is set for noon to 5 p.m. December 7, 2014, in the Janesville Senior Center, 69 South Water Street, Janesville, Wisconsin. Foodies can find baked goods, cheese, honey and pickled veggies among the offerings.

A Texas-style German Christmas market is held December 12 and 13, 2014, in Old Town Tomball (near the Historical Train Depot Plaza, 201 South Elm, Tomball, Texas).

(Photo courtesy of Czech Tourism)

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