History of the Nüremberg Christkindlesmarkt
Dating back to the mid-16th century, with the first documentation of the event taking place in 1628, the Nüremberg Christkindlesmarkt (meaning “Christ Child’s Market”) took place in the Main Market Square of the city and consisted of up to 140 craftsmen selling their goods and wares in stalls. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Market had lost some of its popularity and began to move to different venues throughout the city until its revitalization in the 1930s, where the pre-Christmas event moved back to its original location in the Main Market Square and became once again a romanticized occurrence.
The Market ceased to exist during the years of World War II but re-established itself in 1948 with a new opening ceremony. Ever since that time, the Market opens annually on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday. As the clock strikes 5:30 PM, trumpets blow, Christmas songs are sung, and as the holiday lights are turned on, the Nüremberg Christmas Angel adorned in her white and gold dress, long blond curls and golden crown, stands on the gallery and recites the famous opening prologue to this most cherished event:
You men- and womenfolk who once were children, too,
Your little ones who just begin the journey of your lives
Each of you who rests today, and who will work again tomorrow:
All listen, hear what Christ child has to say!
In every year, four weeks before the time
When Christmas trees we decorate, and everyone awaits the feast,
Here on this square, just as of yore, this market does appear
Which up and down the country they call Christmas Mart.
This little town is built from wood and canvas
Its splendour’s short, will soon be gone,
But yet it is eternal. My market is forever young,
As long as Nüremberg does exist, as long as you remember it.
For young and old the sight of this Old Town of Nüremberg
Has many faces and their number can’t be counted.
Look at this square. Today in its surroundings
High buildings rise, and factories of modern times,
And many suburbs grow, yet it remains forever,
Ye men- and womenfolk: the Nüremberg of its people.
The last month of the year has come and thus the day
When wishes are fulfilled and present given
The market’s lights shine brightly
With baubles, glitter, and with Christmas promise.
But don’t forget, ye men and womenfolk one thing:
Those who have ev’rything don’t need your presents.
It’s children of this world and poorer folk
Who’ll tell you what it means to give a present.
Ye men- and womenfolk who once were children, too
Be child again today and do rejoice
When Christ child now invites you all to see this market.
Whoever comes to visit shall be welcome.
For 27 consecutive days, 200 stall holders present their traditional wares: Nüremberg spicy gingerbread, fruit loaves, bakery goods and sweets, Christmas tree angels, cribs, ornaments, candles, toys, arts and crafts, and souvenirs along with a wide variety of refreshments. This most festive of events ends on Christmas Eve Day at which time more than two million visitors from around the world have made their way to Nüremberg to sample this centuries-old event.