The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt | Photo by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

Although the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt 2021 cannot take place, due to new Covid regulations issued by the Free State of Bavaria, and many Christmas markets throughout the World must be cancelled. Instead let’s remember the good times we can recall, let our imagination take us on a trip during this Advent Season.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in your faith, so that in the power of the Holy Spirit you may be rich in hope.”

– Romans 15:13.

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt | Photo: Florian Trykowski

One of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany is in the square in front of the Frauenkirche, in Nuremberg which is dressed up for Christmas every year during the Advent period. Although, the Nuremberg Christmas fair is not the oldest German Weihnachtmarkt, it the most famous one today due to its unique and intimate atmosphere. The first written record of the Nuremberg Christmas Market dates back to 1628, so it is certainly even older than that. The gifts and souvenirs sold at the stalls are made by local and regional craftsmen, and the 180 stalls in the main square are all made of local spruce, 30 of which have survived from 1890. In addition to the beautiful scenery, the tempting scent of gingerbread, steaming mulled wine and bratwurst wafts throughout the square. 

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt | Photo: PxHere

The origin of Christmas Markets

Christmas markets, known as Christkindmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt, first appeared in the German-speaking world in the late Middle Ages, but have since spread in several countries. The first Christmas market was held in Frankfurt am Main in 1393. The next one mentioned in records was in Dresden in 1434. A gingerbread fair is mentioned in the minutes of the Augsburg Town Hall in 1498. As early as 1600, candy was sold in Vienna at a pre-Christmas stall fair. The first written record of the Nuremberg Christmas Market dates back to 1628, and there is also a 19 cm long wooden box referring to it, decorated with flowers, with the following text written on it:


The earliest Christmas fair in Munich was held in 1642, thus, the first modern fairs began in the 17th century, which only slightly differed from those of today.

Specialities of the Nuremberg Fair

Built in the historic surroundings of Nuremberg, the real hits of the fair are Christkind, Bratwurst and Lebkuchen, which are well worth a closer look. Like at other Advent markets, the aroma of mulled wine, cinnamon-roasted apples, roasted almonds and chestnuts and Bratwurst wafts through the area. One of Nuremberg’s specialities, however, is the finger-thick, long sausages grilled on charcoal beech. Its history dates back 700 years, and there are several legends circulating about it. According to one such legend, the sausages were this size so that innkeepers could sell them through the keyhole after closing hours. But the reality is much simpler than that. In the 16th century, with the rising cost of ingredients, this was the only way for butchers to maintain quality without price increase. The bratwurst of Nuremberg was first mentioned in written records in 1313, when a law stipulated that ‘only the best quality meat may be used by butchers to make sausages’.

One of Germany’s best-known and largest Christmas Markets has been opening its doors on the Friday before the first weekend of Advent every year for almost 400 years. The fair is not limited to the area of Hauptmarkt; there are a lot of Christmas stalls in the surrounding streets as well, although the square with its over 150 stalls is undoubtedly the most impressive scene of it. The main square is home to stalls selling only German products, while the market area next to it also offers the goods of foreign sellers, where you can choose from a selection of gifts from all over the world. Finally, there is the kids’ Christmas Fair welcoming the little ones with a carousel (with reindeer and Santa Claus), a mini-Ferris wheel and a light rail. At the craft stalls, children can try their hands at making sweets or candles as well as at glass-blowing and other interesting crafts, but there is also a children’s post office and a playhouse.

In addition to the gastronomic delights, there is a wide variety on offer. Besides Christmas decorations and nativity scenes, you can also find a lot of beautiful quality handicrafts. The Nuremberg Zwetschgenmännla is undoubtedly a striking and interesting creation. The dolls, made from dried fruit (mainly plums) drawn on wire and dressed up, but you can also buy figurines of different professions or complete life pictures. Of course, the famous Nuremberg gingerbreads is not to be missed either. Gingerbread was also invented here by the Franks in the 13th century. At that time, they did not make the decorated version that you can buy nowadays, but the cake itself was simple and it was sold in richly decorated tin boxes. The best ones at the market are said to be available at the Lebkuchen-Schmidt stall or in the central shop at 6 Plobenhof.

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt | Photo: Uwe Niklas

Opening ceremony of the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt | Photo: Berlind Bernemann

Christkind Teresa Windschall
Photo: Press and Information Office of the City of Nuremberg

Christkind is the symbol of the market

The Nuremberg Christmas Market is also the home of the Nuremberg Christkind. Every year, the Nuremberg Advent Fair is opened by the Christkind from the balcony of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). This custom is originated with the Lutherans, because until the 15th century, Santa gave the children a gift on December 6, but when Luther reformed the church, he decided, to replace the Catholic saint with the Christkind, who would bring the gifts on Christmas Day. A young girl with blonde curly hair, dressed in gold from head to toe has been opening and promoting the Nuremberg Christmas Market every year since 1969. Christkind, re-elected by a strict jury every 2 years, is a kids’ favourite as she brings them Christmas presents. No wonder every little girl in Nuremberg dreams of becoming a Christkind one day, who with her crown and long white dress, looks more like an angel than the child Jesus. This honourable title is a great privilege for its bearer, but it is also great responsibility. The 16–19-year-old girl collects votes in her school and among her peers and is then selected by a professional jury of city representatives and PR professionals. Then her training for the role begins. The life of Christkind is not easy, of course; besides opening of the Christmas market, she has to accept plenty of invitations and give TV and radio interviews during the Advent period. Christkind does not go to school during this time, and in addition to her regular presence at the fair, she does charity work, and visits several places, such as the children’s hospital. Local children tell her their wishes, which she keeps in a large book with a golden cover until December 24. The chosen Christkind is at the fair throughout Advent: talking to the people, reading stories to the children, and giving sweets to them.

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The heritage of Nuremberg

For centuries, Nuremberg was an independent city, accountable only to the emperor. Initially the Count of the Castle was the head of day-to-day affairs, and then he resigned his title and delegated his authority to the City Council. Nuremberg, whose wealth was ensured by its craft and commercial location, was a popular city among several German-Roman emperors.

It began to decline after the Thirty Years’ War, even though it hosted the Peace Banket in 1649. A century and a half later, the city was on the verge of economic and political collapse and was invaded by Napoleon and handed it over to the Kingdom of Bavaria. Nuremberg and Munich have been eternal rivals ever since, and it is a great misfortune for the people of Nuremberg that even though they are Franks, they were forced to become part of Bavaria. Today, Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria – after Munich, of course.

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt | Photo: Steffen Oliver Riese

“We have long hoped and thoroughly and carefully planned so we could host our Christkindlesmarkt in 2021. But the state-wide regulations are clear. That means our traditional market cannot take place for the second year in a row” – said Lord Mayor Marcus König.

Because the Christkindlesmarkt was cancelled, the opening of the market with the world-famous prologue from the new Nuremberg Christkind Teresa Windschall will also not take place.
The prologue was scheduled to be performed without an audience but be broadcast on television and livestreamed on the internet. There will, however, be a digital Advent Calendar with 24 videos of the Christkind. Teresa Windschall will also be available to the public twice a week in a telephone session.

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