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Christkindlmarket is a Holiday Tradition

With Three Locations Across Chicagoland, Visiting an Authentic German Holiday Market is Perfect for Families.

Article by Michael Beightol

Photography by Provided by Christkindlmarket

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Now in its 27th season, Christkindlmarket Chicago is the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe, offering a special shopping experience, family-friendly events and intercultural activities.

Originally established in downtown Chicago, the popularity of the market has prompted expansion to two other locations: Gallagher Way outside of Wrigley Field at Clark and Addison, and the banks of the Fox River in Aurora (360 N. Broadway). While different in scale – Daley Plaza is vast and crowded with holiday revelers – each offers a unique family-friendly experience.

All three markets kick off on November 17. Daley Plaza and Aurora wrap up on December 24. The Wrigleyville market has an extended run until December 31.

The Christkindlmarkets in the Chicago area unite cherished German and European traditions with international flair and local charm. The markets here take their inspiration from the 16th century in Nuremberg, Germany, one of the first outdoor markets of its kind. All three local venues are known for their vendors’ high-quality gifts, food and drink, holiday cheer, and for being an ideal place for families to make endearing memories.

In 1995 the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACC Midwest) wanted a new way to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. The leaders of the chamber initiated a partnership with city officials in Nuremberg. In 1996 a few companies from Germany, along with others based locally, launched the first Christkindlmarket at Pioneer Court in Chicago. A hit was born, so for the second year then Mayor Richard M. Daley proposed moving the holiday market to the more spacious Daley Plaza. It has been a staple event on the plaza ever since.

With success comes growth, first at Wrigley Field and now in downtown Aurora. Expect crowds on the weekend, so a weekday visit, especially in the morning or late afternoon, provides a more leisurely experience and easier browsing for the perfect holiday gift at the gingerbread-like vendor stalls.

Food is a big part of the experience. From giant pretzels to bratwurst and potato pancakes, and imported chocolates and tasty raclette (melted cheese served on a baguette).

Why “Christkindlmarket?”  The Christkind is a creature from folklore dating back to the 1500s. She’s (take note Santa) a fairy-like being dressed in gold and white with a crown upon her golden locks. Since then, and still today, she is the bearer of gifts to most children in German-speaking countries. Traditionally, gifts are exchanged on December 24th and delivered by the Christkind, who leaves them under a Christmas tree and disappears before children can see her.

An enduring feature of the Christkindlmarket Chicago are the ceramic mugs filled with glühwein, a warmly spiced red wine. Each year a new mug is commissioned, and long-time visitors happily collect the mugs for their own holiday gatherings.

Find hours of operation and learn more about Christkindlmarket Chicago by visiting Christkindlmarket.com. Each of the Christkindl Markets are free to enter. Again this year the Chicago Cubs will host "Winterland at Gallagher Way" which includes the ice skating rink and a host of activities and rides inside Wrigley Field. Tickets are needed to get inside the ballpark (GallagherWay.com).

Happy Holidays and Prost!

The Christkinda creature from folklore dating back to the 1500s, is a fairy-like being dressed in gold and white with a crown upon her golden locks. Five hundred years ago at parades during the holiday season one "grand angel" guided the way. Since then, and still today, she is the bearer of gifts to most children in German-speaking countries, leaving presents under a tree and disappearing without so much as a glimpse by anyone.

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