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On a Trail of Joy

Dec/20/2021 / by RASHMI GOPAL RAO

Christmas is like candy; it slowly melts in your mouth sweetening every taste bud, making you wish it could last forever ~
by Richelle E. Goodrich

Often dubbed as the most wonderful time of the year, December is a time to welcome the good tidings, good cheer, warmth and, of course, the festival of Christmas. A time to shop, decorate the tree, relax and bond with family and friends, Christmas is all about happiness, gifting and enjoying the essence of the holiday season. Synonymous with plum cake, gingerbread cookies, mulled wine, parties and presents, Christmas is also intrinsically associated with Christmas markets.

Origins in the Late Middle Ages

Christmas markets also known as Christkindlmark (translating into Christ Child Market) have been a tradition believed to have originated in Germany. December markets have been mentioned as early as the 13th century, but Dresden’s Striezelmarkt, which was held way back in 1434, may have been the first true Christmas market. Conventionally held in the town square, the markets have traditionally housed open-air stalls offering seasonal produce including wine, plums, bread and cake. With song, dance, decorations and a nativity scene, Christmas markets have always been symbols of celebration, tradition and holidays. 

Here is a look at some famous Christmas markets across the globe:

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

Held in the famous amusement park in the city that dates back to 1843, Christmas in Tivoli Gardens is quite like none other. With a distinct Nordic vibe, the Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens is replete with twinkling lights, wooden houses decorated with pine branches and scores of Christmas trees covered with lights and baubles. Replete with a Santa Claus, his reindeer and the quintessential Santa grotto, the market has about 60 stalls retailing snacks, sweets, cakes and the like. Visitors can also shop for knitted products, leather goods and craft items. Do not forget to sample the typically Danish snack Æbleskiver while here.

Dates: November 19 , 2021 – January 2, 2022.

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany

Berlin is home to close to 70 Christmas markets and hence the Christmas market capital of the country. Gendarmenmarkt is located at one of the most beautiful city squares and is known for its handcrafted goods, food and decor. From local delicacies to carousels to fire-eaters and choirs, this is a market that allows one to soak the festival vibes. Visitors can shop for some indigenous souvenirs from the many craftsmen like wood carvers, belt makers and stone masons who set up their stalls there.

Dates: November 22, 2021 – December 31, 2021

Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria

While Vienna is home to a number of Christmas markets, the one in front of the Rathausplatz or the city hall is the most famous. With close to 150 stalls, the Viennese Dream Christmas Market is all about sparkle, glitter and a host of activities for the old and the young. From decorated trees to an old fashioned merry go round to a trail of nativity scenes, the Viennese Dream Christmas market, is a truly joyful experience. There are a host of activities for children like the carousel, Ferris wheel as well as chocolate and cookie making. One can shop for handicrafts, Christmas decorations as well as confectionery, too. 

Dates: November 12, 2021 – December 26, 2021

Brussels Christmas Market, Belgium

Held near the Grand Place vicinity and the city center, the Christmas markets in Brussels is one of the most popular in Europe. Replete with a grand ice rink for skating, a large Christmas tree and a sound and light show, the market has more than 200 chalets. Apart from decorations and souvenirs, you can treat yourself to chocolatey waffles, and seasonal specialties like rich beef stew.

Dates: 26 November, 2021 – 2 January, 2022

Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland: one of the most beautiful markets of Switzerland, Basel is home to three main markets. Located close to each other, the biggest is on Barfüsserplatz in the old town while another is situated next to the cathedral on Münsterplatz. There is a small market on the banks of the Rhine on Claraplatz. With over 150 chalets and several hundred thousand visitors, the festive vibe is magical thanks to the beautiful light displays, Christmas decorations, stalls and food trucks. One can shop for native trinkets as well as souvenirs including candles, silk scarves, wooden houses as savor indigenous specialties like raclette and fondue-filled baguettes.  

Dates: November 25, 2021 to December 23, 2021

Eiffel Christmas Market, Paris

While the city of lights has numerous Christmas markets, this one set on the Champ-de-Mars and visible from the Trocadero esplanade is a favorite given its desirable location. With Swiss-style wooden chalets and the aroma of freshly baked gingerbread, this is indeed an attraction not to be missed. Apart from a date with Santa and numerous activities for kids and adults, one can shop for antiques, paintings, nativity toys and leather goods from the stalls. Do not forget to sip on some mulled wine while you munch on roasted chestnuts in the biting cold.

Dates:  December 1, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Covent Garden Christmas Village, London

One of the most Instagrammable markets in London, the Covent Garden Christmas market serves up a magic quite like none other. Glittering lights, Santa’s sleigh, hot chocolate, warm churros, the atmosphere cannot get warmer and cozy! This year the village will be decked up as a snowy traditional village featuring eight bauble themed igloos. With gourmet food on offer and plenty of entertainment, this market is one that is not to be missed. 

Dates: November 15, 2021 – January 9, 2022

Union Square Holiday Market, New York

There is something intrinsically special about Christmas in the Big Apple. The vibrant city is home to several Christmas markets and the one in Union square is famous for more reasons than one. With over 100 stalls in the form of red and white striped booths, the ambience is funky, quirky and totally carefree. While the music is enthralling, the decorations are endearing and visitors here can shop for a wide range of knickknacks including artifacts, Tibetan crafts, bags, accessories etc. Recharge yourself with hot chocolate, hot apple cider or artisanal coffee while you soak in the festive vibes.Dates: November 18, 2021 – December 24, 2022


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