Top 15 Facts about German Christmas Markets

  1. Berlin has over 70 Christmas markets every year (2020 not counted due to lockdown) which are known as weihnachtsmarkt (white night market)!
  2. Special food and drink such as bratwurst, (sausage), maroni (hot chestnuts) and flammkuchen (flatbread with a variety of toppings but often includes chives) are often sold at Germany Christmas Markets, but it differs from city to city. In Frankfurt, many people drink Apfelwein (hot mulled cider) as it is more of a delicacy there but in Berlin, Glühwein is more popular (hot mulled wine).
  3. The tradition of Christmas markets in Germany began as it was an opportunity for people to stock up on supplies for winter and to bring some cheer to the dark months of November and December, however they evolved to become a place to buy gifts as well.
  4. Gingerbread (lebkuchen) hearts are given to lovers with a long ribbon around – often messages of love or your lover’s name is iced on and the ribbon allows the gingerbread to be worn as a necklace to be easily eaten as you walk around.
  5. The markets aren’t just for food, there are often places to buy handmade Christmas presents such as wooden toys, scarves, jewellery, lanterns and Christmas decorations.
  6. Dresden has Germany’s oldest Christmas market, known as Streizelmarkt has been going since 1434 and is named after hefestreizel which is now more commonly known as stollen cake.
  7. The stalls are often housed in little wooden huts. They help protect the products from the elements and also give the markets a little village feel. Many other markets around the world replicate this, especially in the UK!
  8. Ulm in Germany is famous for its real-life nativity, with real animals including a donkey and some sheep and lambs in a pen with a manger. This Christmas market is held in front of Ulm Münster, the church with the tallest spire in the world at 161m (528ft) tall!
  9. The markets also offer entertainment in the form of brass bands, carol singers and sometimes also plays being performed, with ice skating sometimes available too and fairground rides!
  10. The markets are often held in historical squares. One of my favourite German Christmas markets in Berlin called the weihnachtsmarkt takes place for over a month at Gendarmenmarkt, debatably Berlin’s most beautiful square. The square is overlooked by the giant identical French (Französischer Dom) and German churches (Deutscher Dom) at opposite ends and the Berlin Concert Hall (Konzerthaus) in between. This market is very recognisable as made up of white tents with yellow light up stars on top instead of the traditional wooden huts.
  11. Different cities incorporate different traditions into their markets, for example in Nuremburg every other year a young woman is selected to be the Christ child (Christkind) and dressed as an angel, opens the festive season.
  12. Cologne has one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany with 150 stalls and over 100 events every year and is unique as it offers many stalls to free for charity, being the only market to do so. Normally stallholders have to pay a lot of money for a spot for their stall.
  13. Prune people (zwetschgenmann) are small Christmas dolls made of dried prunes and walnuts that can be found in some Christmas markets. They are given as gifts as they’re said to bring good luck and the tradition dates back to the 17th century.
  14. Oberammergau, a town in the Bavarian Alps also has a unique tradition. Every year there is a nativity trail in the town made up of 25 nativity scenes, with everything in the scenes being carved by local woodcarvers!
  15. Christmas trees also were invented in Germany! The first one was erected in Weimar in 1851 on the market square and the tradition has kept going ever since with the largest recorded at a Christmas market in Berlin at 20m tall!

Merry Christmas, Much Love.



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