Nowadays, Christmas often revolves around our credit cards. We buy presents for our loved ones, food for the table, decorations for our houses and on the list goes. As modern as this all seems, the tradition of Christmas shopping dates back to the middle ages when Christmas Markets were held in Germany for people to stock up on goods for the winter months. If they had a little extra money, they would buy things like toys and chestnuts to give away on Christmas. The first Christmas market is said to date back to 13th century Vienna when Emperor Albrecht I allowed shopkeepers to hold a Dezembermarkt (December Market) so the shopkeepers could sell their wares and the townspeople could prepare for the coming months. Nowadays, Christmas markets are held all over the world. They’ve evolved since the first December Market, but they usually include some German traditions and food like schnitzel and gingerbread. Read on to learn about some of the famous Christmas markets from around the world!
Christkindelsmärik – Strasbourg France
One of the oldest Christmas markets that exists today is called Christkindelsmärik which dates back to 1570 in Strasbourg France. This market is considered to be the oldest and one of the biggest ongoing Christmas markets in all of Europe. Each year there’s over 300 stalls in 10 different locations that have all kinds of food, wine, handmade crafts and craftsmen who put on demonstrations for the public. With everything going on in this Christmas market, you can buy something for everyone on your list all while indulging in fancy French wine and cheese.
Winterfest – Hong Kong, China
If lights and displays are more up your alley, then Hong Kong’s Winterfest is the place to be. Here you can experience a blend of western and eastern Christmas traditions while being blown away by the incredible displays like the International Light Art Display which is a free event in the Central Harbour, and performances like the Nutcracker which is put on by The Hong Kong Ballet and accompanied by The Hong Kong Sinfonietta. The most impressive of all these shows is the New Year’s fireworks display that takes place over the Victoria Harbour.
Toronto Christmas market – Toronto, Canada
The Toronto Christmas Market is held on the cobblestoned streets of the historic distillery district in Toronto’s downtown. In this market you can enjoy all kinds of snacks (including poutine!) and performances or stroll down the alleys to take in the twinkling Christmas lights that line the buildings and countdown the days until Christmas. This market would not be complete without the 50-foot Christmas tree that stands at the center of the market and is decorated with more than 40,000 lights, 800 ornaments and 2km of ribbon.
Red Square Christmas Market – Moscow, Russia
This Russian Christmas market takes place In Moscow’s famous red square, surrounded by St. Basil’s Basilica and the Kremlin’s walls. While it may not be as big as others as it has only 20 stalls, the incredible surroundings and one of Moscow’s largest skating rink makes up for it. Many of the stalls sell traditional Russian dishes like pancakes with caviar and traditional handmade matryoshka dolls. Since Russians celebrate Orthodox Christmas, the market is open even longer than most so even the worst procrastinators can still get out and enjoy it!