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Munich

The Munich Chriskindlmarkt 2011 will operate between 25 November and 24 December 2011

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10 a.m. – 8.30 p.m.
Sun 10 a.m. – 7.30 p.m.
Dec 24th 9 a.m. – 2.00 p.m.

Official Website:  www.christkindlmarkt-muenchen.de

 

When darkness falls and the snow on the roofs of the market stalls begins to sparkle in a glowing sea of fairy lights, it is then that the atmosphere of the Munich Christkindlmarkt in the central square of Marienplatz is at its most enchanting. Year after year, visitors from far and wide mingle with the Munich locals in the city’s “best parlour” to join in the festive spirit and yuletide traditions celebrated at this charming Christmas market.

History of the Munich Christkindlmarkt

Munich Christmas Market - Marienplatz

Photo credit to Fritz Witzig, supplied by Munich Tourist Office

It is said that the origins of Munich’s Christkindlmarkt date back to as far as the fourteenth century when so-called Nicholas markets were held in the town. However, it was not until 1642 that the first one was officially recorded in the annals of the city – the Nikolaidult, a yuletide fair located near the „Schöner Turm“ tower in the Kaufingerstraße. The actual event was probably much older – reaching back to as early as the second half of the sixteenth century. Unlike the other fairs and markets held in Munich, the Nikolaidult – which took place on 5th and 6th December – allowed only local Munich traders to take part.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Nikolaidult moved to the square now known as the Promenadeplatz. According to the chronicles of Michael Schattenhofer, the Nicholas market of 1805 traded in „goods and wares from Oberammergau, Lebkuchen gingerbread from Nuremberg, cotton clothing for children, nativity figurines and chimney sweep figures shaped from prunes and almonds („Zwetschgenmanderl“), and little paper pictures of St. Nicholas, nuns and hermits“. This market, which then moved
on to Max-Joseph-Platz, is regarded as the forerunner of today’s Christkindlmarkt.

“Now we find the age-old market celebrating Saint Nicholas is a thing of the past. It has been replaced by the Christmas market familiar to the Protestant faith … and has moved on to the squares at Residenzplatz or MaxJoseph-Platz”, wrote Lorenz Westenrieder in his diary on 6th December 1806. Under the influence of the Enlightenments and the growing significance of the Protestant religion in the early nineteenth century Munich found itself undergoing the same changes that other regions and towns such as Nuremburg and Strasbourg had experienced as long ago as the sixteenth century – the move away from the figure of Saint Nicholas as the bringer of gifts in favour of the Christ Child (Christkind). As a consequence, the yuletidemarket became associated with the Christkind or Christmas festivities and no longer with Saint Nicholas. In the course of its history after 1806, Munich’s Christkindlmarkt – as the Christmas market is affectionately known – was held at a number of differentplaces throughout the town as follows:

1806 On the fairground of the square known today as Maximilianplatz.
1886-1938 In and around the Sendlinger Tor area and stretching into the Sonnenstraße.
1938 Because of traffic and building requirements it was moved to the Blumenstraße where once the corn market had stood.
1939 It was situated at the square Mariahilfplatz in the Au district of the town.
1940 It transferred to the site of the former synagogue (demolished in 1938) in the Maxburgstraße
After 1945 The market found a new home near the high-rise bunker in the Blumenstraße.
Ever since 1972 The Christkindlmarkt has been held at Marienplatz – in the very heart of the city.

Munich Christmas Market Stall

Photo Courtesy of Foto B, supplied by Munich Tourist Office

In the course of the past two hundred years the range of goods at the Christmas market have remained basically the sameas they have always been. Sweetmeats such as Lebkuchen and Zwetschgenmanderl, and wood-carven figures from Oberammergau, South Tyrol and the Erzgebirge mountains of Eastern Germany. Plus, of course, all the other wares that form an integral part of Advent and yuletide and are on offer at the more than a hundred market stalls at Marienplatz. In recent years there has been a revival of the quaint paper pictures of former times, thus adding an air of nostalgia to the old worlde charm of the Christmas market.

The Manger Market located in Neuhauser Straße

Of particular interest is that area of the market known as the Kripperlmarkt (meaning literally the “market of the holy manger”) which is situated in Neuhauser Straße just a few yards from the Marienplatz. It features displays of handicraft figures portraying scenes from the Nativity. This Kripperlmarkt is thought to be one of the largest of its kind in Germany and boasts a longstanding tradition. Enjoying a separate identity within the Christmas market, it has always been very popular with visitors. In the mid-nineteenth century the Kripperlmarkt divided off from the rest of the yuletide market and had its own opening times starting on the first Sunday in Advent, trading right through Christmas and going on till Epiphany. It was not till after the Second World War that the Christkindlmarkt and Kripperlmarkt joined forces again.

Food and Entertainment Delights

One of the great pleasures of a visit to the Christkindlmarkt is the opportunity to enjoy its particular culinary delights. There’s mulled wine and mead to give visitors that inner glow as well as freshly roasted almonds and chestnuts to keep body and soul together. Other traditional features of the Christkindlmarkt include tempting grilled sausages and Advent sweetmeats such as spicy “Pfeffernüsse” biscuits and “Magenbrot” cake.

This year, as every year, the people of Munich will come together at Marienplatz at 5 p.m. on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday to celebrate the opening of the Christkindlmarkt by the mayor. It is then that the 2,500 lights are officially turned on to present the almost 30 metre tall Christmas tree in all its shining glory. Tradition has it that each year a different town donates the tree to the city of Munich. In 1830 Therese von Saxon-Hildburghausen, wife of the Bavarian King Ludwig I., introduced a decorated Christmas tree to the Munich Residenz palace for the very first time. Heading the programme of festive music which accompanies the opening ceremony of the market is the popular German Christmas carol “O du fröhliche….”. Then, every day, around 5.30 p.m., there are live recitals from the town hall balcony by soloists, choirs and music groups to spread the festive spirit to the crowds.

Sternenplatzl at Rindermarkt

A homey atmosphere lingers amidst the booths with their display of traditional arts and crafts, Bavarian specialties, nostalgic toys and home-made delicacies, incense, Feuerzangenbowle and fried sausages. Come and relive your childhood memories here.

The “Krampus Run”

The 500-year old tradition of the “Krampus Run” dates back to the Christian mythological character of Bishop Saint Nicholas and his companion, “Krampus”. The members of “Sparifankerl Pass”, Munich’s first “Krampus group”, dress up in archaic costumes, take a thrilling run across the Christmas Market and show up in the most unlikely places. Sun, Dec. 11, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm & Sun, Dec. 18, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm (see www.sparifankerl-pass.de).

Munich Christmas Market Tours

Official Munich tour guides provide cultural and historical facts as well as culinary information during their tours “about Kletzbrot and Fatschnkindl” and the tasting tour “Baked Apple, Fatschnkindl and Stories”.

Tours can be booked for groups only at the Tourist Office:

gf.tam@muenchen.de, facsimile + 49 (0) 89 233-30 337
Information: Phone + 49 (0) 89 233-30 234 or -30 204

Services for visitors

There’s a handicrafts programme called “Himmelswerkstatt” (“Heavenly Workshop”) for children. Other features include a “Christkindl” post office with a special stamp, a “Christkindl tram” and bus delivering Christmas parcels.

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