Advent Calendar 2021 – Dec 7 – The Christmas Market

When did Christmas Markets become a thing? To my great delight, it seems that every town and city around me with a thriving hub of artisans, food producers, and hand made goods is opening up the public square to offer local populations a gratifying outdoor shopping experience this winter.

The pandemic has made us more conscious of our shopping choices, and infused us with a desire to “do good”. These values have generated greater appeal for shopping locally, and seeking out organic and ethically sourced products. Also, people seek to be more outdoors, and shopping is not just about the errand but about the experience, to be shared with friends and with family.

Shopping locally is the trendy new way to create a one-of-a-kind neighborhood. It contributes to building relationships within the community and helping support the local economy, all while building a more vibrant and unified society.

Its not just a local trend. Christmas Markets have been happening around the world for years, however their popularity is growing in many countries and has the retail industry and academics studying the trend to understand how it is impacting our society. 

 “What makes the markets so important isn’t just buying an ornament. It’s this whole experience of sound, smell, visuals, but also the physicality of people around you.” 

– Dirk Spennemann, associate professor in cultural heritage management at Australia’s Charles Sturt University

Origins of the Christmas Market

Christmas markets originated in Germany, dating as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries and even earlier versions have been documented in Medieval Times. By the 1980s and 1990s, Germany’s Christmas markets had become so beloved that they became a cultural export. Cities in countries around the world—including Britain, the US, Japan,  and India began to host their own German-style Christmas markets, complete with bratwurst, glühwein, and twinkling lights. 

Back then, people lived in scattered communities within walking distance of a church that held markets for all religious feast days. The winter market was typically the biggest, with local artisans selling pottery, meat, baked goods, and maybe some sweets, if the sugar wasn’t too expensive.

In Germany and elsewhere in Europe,  Christmas markets transform every holiday season into winter wonderlands. Wooden huts adorned with twinkling lights and boughs of holly line the streets, and vendors sell hand-carved ornaments and Nativity scene figurines, alongside piping hot mugs of glühwein (mulled wine), as Christmas carols fill the air. 

The Christmas market in Dresden—called the Striezelmarkt—is often considered one of the first holiday markets in Germany. It first opened for one day on Christmas Eve in 1434. It now attracts more than 2.5 million visitors each year.

I have counted at least 20 communities around me holding a Christmas Market this year, as part of the winter celebration line-up. I am thrilled for local vendors to have an opportunity to bring their craft to us, and grateful for local governments and community organisations to have recognized the benefits of bringing Christmas Markets to a population hungry to get outdoors, and experience a new cultural heritage while giving a boost to the local economy. I hope you get to experience one where you live.

Published by Sylvie Rancourt

I am an intuitive and experienced leader and come naturally to coaching. I have spent the last 20 years helping individuals get unstuck, to achieve their goals and objectives. I enjoy interacting with new people and helping them to disengage from the minutiae of situations to see the bigger picture. These conversations inevitably lead to inspiration and it is quite a feeling to finally know what you want to achieve and see the path to get you there. Many individuals I have helped just needed a plan to stop wasting their energies and have more focus, while others needed a bit more time and we customized sessions suited to their needs. In all cases, we achieved positive change in either their professional or personal lives.

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