“Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago….Christkindlmarket Chicago is no longer just a German tradition, it has become a Chicago institution.” – source
Last week, I finally made it over to Daley Plaza on my lunchbreak to see what all the Christkindlmarket hype was about. For a rainy day with a 60 minute restraint, I was not disappointed. In fact, I was more angry at myself that I had taken this long to finally visit I mean, I’ve lived in Chicago all my life and for the past two years I’ve worked right across the street!
Laziness and procrastination aside, I enjoyed my time at Christkindlmarket so much that I’m going to share my 5 favorite things about the experience, and of course, encourage you to visit if you’re ever in the area during the holidays!
1 – FOOD
Hello, my name is Lauren and I’m a fat ass. I love food, especially international dishes. There were so many vendors, so many options, so many smells that my head was spinning. Polish pancakes, French crepes, Swedish cheese, German curry, Austrian chocolates…and that’s just a tiny fraction of what was available that day. I hate making decisions. Why can’t I eat it all?! Well, I certainly tried, but my friend and I settled on making a main course out of a classic brätwurst and delicious döner kebab.
2 – GOODS
Christkindlmarket is a Christmas market (cognate or nah) where dozens of vendors sell gifts and trinkets for the upcoming holidays. The items were just as diverse as the foods, and I was thoroughly impressed by the beauty of it all. Just about everything was handcrafted, including the ornaments, wooden statues, cuckoo clocks, beer steins and glasses, nativity pieces, toys, sleds, clothing, bath products…you name it! It was surely a sight to see, and if my family wasn’t equal to the population of a small village I could have done all of my Christmas shopping in that one visit!
3 – DRINKS
Yes, there was German hot chocolate, pure Nepali tea, and Apfelstrudel apple cider, but I was most enamored by the Glühwein – a warm spiced wine. Yes, despite my youthful appearance and the frequency of which I’m asked what high school I’m currently attending, I’m fully legal – have been for quite some time. Though I don’t think there are any real losses for trying, it’d be a real shame if you visited Christkindlmarket and didn’t get the some of it. We went into the Lufthansa Festival Tent for ours, but there are more tents/vendors that offer it. To make it even more appealing, the drink comes in an adorable keepsake boot mug!
4 – NATIVITY SET
I really appreciate diverse nativity scenes. As a black woman, I rarely see my identification depicted. In fact, I just read in the news about how a few Australians are calling it provocative and offensive that a woman placed a brown baby Jesus in her office nativity scene. Ahhhh imagine the horror! Anywho. I won’t get much more into this topic, because that’s another post within itself, but I will say that this scene was aesthetically and politically pleasing for me.
5 – THE CHRISTKIND
A few days after my trip (when the Christmas madness subsided) I googled the history of Germany’s Christkindlesmarkt, and found out who the woman with the big crown was and why she was walking around taking so many pictures. The Christkind – German for “Christ-child” – is an Earthly angel that brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve. Originated by Martin Luther some time in the 16th-17th century, dozens of European countries adopted this belief, and today role of the Christkind is a huge part of Christkindlesmarkt and it’s many renditions across the globe.