READ TIME 2 MIN – It’s 21 weeks till Christkindlmarket opens for its 25th Anniversary celebration! What can you expect from the Christkindlmarket 2021? Simply, everything you have always loved about the markets and MORE (ha ha, you can’t expect us to give away all the secrets yet!) One thing you can always count on is the return of your favorite vendors. From the coolest gifts to the most delicious bites, we’ve got what you love, and we know that it is truly the vendors that make the market Chicago’s favorite holiday spot. Over the years the market has grown and changed – but the feel and experience have remained the same. That is due to our unwavering dedication to keep the traditional feel and cultural heritage of the market alive, while also seeking out diversity and inclusion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our vendors. Like many of the traditional European Christmas markets, our Christkindlmarket features vendors from all over the world. Yes, a great number of them come from Germany; however, we also have vendors from India, Ireland, Canada, Nepal, Peru, the US, and many other locations. These vendors enrich the spirit, culture, and feel of the market with all their specialty items that cannot be found anywhere else. Let’s first take a look at a few of the unique food items you can find at the Christkindlmarket!
Picture this: You are strolling through the market on a crisp winter evening, a slight wind blows and brings with it a sweet sugary smell that makes your tummy rumble and your mouth water. It’s the smell of roasted nuts, of course! A standard snack at any open-air market, and possibly the most quintessential holiday treat. Though the origin of roasting nuts is not truly known, some of the earliest records of this delicious snack are from early German “Weihnachtsmaerkte,” where they would roast up sugary coated almonds called “Gebrannte Mandeln.” Today (well, not TODAY, but in 20 weeks from today!) you can find over 30 different types of roasted nuts at the Christkindlmarket Chicago. Their sweetness has been filling the air and bellies of our visitors since the very beginning of the market in 1996.
Not that the roasted nuts are the only mouthwatering scent wafting through the markets. Visitors have enjoyed the finest in German food for 25 years, including Bratwurst, potato pancakes, goulash soup, stollen, strudel and pretzels. As we strove to offer more flavors and experiences at the market over the years, we also came to include some modern-day fan favorites such as Chiya Chai’s savory Himalayan dishes (their Masala or Ginger Cardamom Chai & Masala Chicken Pie are out of this world) and EVERYONE’s favorite Raclette Sandwiches from our vendor Baked Cheese Haus. Fun Fact: Raclette is actually a Swiss dish, popular in France and Italy, that is often served in Germany as a New Year’s Eve tradition, and ours is made to perfection here in the US! Talk about an international dish! Another notable addition to the market is the DönerMen’s Döner Kebab (similar to a Greek Gyro). The Döner sandwiches are among the most common street foods served in Germany but they aren’t in fact German at all! Döner is a Turkish dish that has been engrained into German cuisine because of the large prevalence of Turks living in Germany (Turks actually make up the largest ethnic group of non-German origin in Germany). We are certainly glad it did – because it is outstanding! At the market, you can get these yummy titbits with the traditional Döner meat, Chicken or vegan sausage, and you can get it in sandwich form or as a salad… or just do what we like to do and try all the Doener variations!
Food is not the only thing on the menu at the Christkindlmarket. Guests can always feast their eyes on some truly extraordinary crafts, art, ornaments, and gifts. Did you know that glass bauble ornaments originated in Germany? Our market features not one, not two but three vendors from Lauscha, Germany, selling these delicately handmade beauties. Another classic German holiday tradition is the German Pyramid, which can be found at several vendors around the market but most notably at the big walk-in Käthe Wohlfahrt shop. To Americans, the term “Pyramid” is a little misleading as the items more resemble a windmill with a carousel of figures and scenes all spinning by the heat of the candles as it raises through the windmill blades. These handmade wooden pieces acted as a centerpiece of the holiday celebration before Christmas trees were a thing and are part of the popular holiday décor to this day. Looking towards the rest of the world, guests to the market have loved keeping warm with the handmade sweaters, scarves and hats from vendors like Irish Sisters (Ireland) and Winterborn Alpaca (Ecuador & Peru), decorating their homes with prized gifts from vendors like Resham’s (India), Art Business Center (Eastern Europe) and Bethlehem Nativity.
There are so many people, stories, and cultures that are part of the Christkindlmarket family. Though we have always – and will always – be guided by our passion to share our German traditions in planning the market (the Christkindlmarkets after all did originate in Germany), we are proud to feature diverse vendors and add traditions and tastes from all around the world. We can’t wait to share even more memory-making moments with you this year, and love to hear yours as well! Feel free to share them through our info account (with the subject “Christkindlmarket Memories”).
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