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It is said that the origins of Munich’s Christkindlmarkt date back to as far as the fourteenth century when so-called Nicholas markets were held in the town. However, it was not until 1642 that the first one was officially recorded in the annals of the city – the Nikolaidult, a yuletide fair located near the “Schöner Turm” tower in the Kaufingerstraße. The actual event was probably much older – reaching back to as early as the second half of the sixteenth century.
Since 1972 the Christkindlmarkt has been held at Marienplatz – in the very heart of the city. In the course of the past 200 years the range of goods at the Christmas market have remained basically the same: sweetmeats such as Lebkuchen and Zwetschgenmanderl, and wood-carven figures from Oberammergau, South Tyrol and the Erzgebirge mountains of Eastern Germany. Plus, of course, all the other wares that form an integral part of Advent and yuletide and are on offer at the 100+ market stalls at Marienplatz. In recent years there has been a revival of the quaint paper pictures of former times, thus adding an air of nostalgia to the old world charm of the Christmas market.
Of particular interest is that area of the market known as the Kripperlmarkt (meaning literally the “market of the holy manger”) which is situated at the Rindermarkt just a few yards from the Marienplatz. It features displays of handicraft figures portraying scenes from the Nativity.
One of the great pleasures of a visit to the Christkindlmarkt is the opportunity to enjoy its particular culinary delights. There’s mulled wine and mead to give visitors that inner glow as well as freshly roasted almonds and chestnuts to keep body and soul together. Other traditional features of the Christkindlmarkt include tempting grilled sausages and Advent sweetmeats such as spicy “Pfeffernüsse” biscuits and “Magenbrot” cake.
This year, as every year, the people of Munich will come together at Marienplatz at 5 p.m. on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday to celebrate the opening of the Christkindlmarkt by the mayor. It is then that the 2,500 lights are officially turned on to present the almost 30 metre tall Christmas tree in all its shining glory.
Every day, around 5:30 p.m., there are live recitals from the town hall balcony by soloists, choirs and music groups to spread the festive spirit to the crowds.
The Christkindlmarkt is open from 26th November till 24th December. For more information: www.christkindlmarkt-muenchen.de