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Christmas markets: an ancient tradition

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Christmas is fast approaching and with it also the traditional activities and events that accompany it. The most important and followed events that take place in the period before Christmas are the so-called Christmas Markets. Nowadays the Christmas markets have become a trend and take place in many European cities. These are street markets associated with the celebration of Christmas. These markets usually take place during the four weeks of Advent, that is, the weeks preceding Christmas, but in some cases they are extended up to the day of the Epiphany.


Christmas markets are an ancient tradition. In fact, they were born in Germany in the fifteenth century, in particular the oldest evidence that has come down to us refers to a market that took place in the German city of Dresden. The German-speaking countries or those that have undergone a profound cultural influence or domination by Austria and Germany are those where the tradition of the markets is more rooted and more genuine. This explains why the tradition of the markets is deeply rooted in Alsace and Lorraine, in the Czech Republic, in Hungary, in Switzerland and in Trentino-Alto Adige.

In Germany even every city and every country has its own market. Here the tradition is deeply felt. In German, the Christmas market is called “Weihnachtsmarkt” or “Christkindlsmarkt”. These markets usually take place in the historical centers of the cities in the pedestrian areas or in the Municipality square or in the Cathedral square. In the markets, objects and ideas for gifts, Christmas decorations, Christmas trees are usually sold. In addition there are also Christmas food and drinks, as well as seasonal products from the outdoor stalls. The atmosphere is made even more festive with traditional songs and dances. Often there are specific activities and shows dedicated to children, also in every market also Santa Claus makes an appearance.


In Germany, the most beautiful markets are those of large cities such as Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, Nuremberg, Lübeck, Dresden and Berlin. But the small historic German towns sometimes organize really delicious markets, among the most beautiful and particular we can mention those of Freiburg im Breisgau and Bad Wipfen in Baden-Württemberg, while in Bavaria those of Nördlingen im Ries and Rothenburg ob der Tauber are very beautiful, two medieval towns that have remained intact.

Austria is another country where the tradition of the Christmas Markets is deeply rooted, the main cities have beautiful markets, among those to visit there are those of Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz, Graz and Vienna. Another region of Europe where the markets are an ancient tradition is Alsace in France. Here are the famous Christmas markets of Strasbourg and Colmar. Even in Italy there are Christmas markets. This tradition is deeply rooted in Trentino-Alto Adige. Here the most famous markets are those of Merano, Bolzano, Trento, Bressanone, Vipiteno and Brunico. But also cities like Florence, Rome and Milan have important and popular markets.

But in recent years the tradition of the Christmas Markets has spread in almost every European nation, they are found in Finland, Estonia, Romania, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Belgium, Sweden and in Denmark. If you want to have a clearer and more detailed picture I recommend a visit to the guide of the Christmas Markets.

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