Beginning in late November, many British cities open up a large area of the city centres and turn them into welcoming Christmas marketplaces. You can now find Christmas markets around the country in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Lincoln, further north and across the southern counties of Britain.
However, Christmas markets don’t have their roots in this country, the tradition of the Christmas market can be traced back to Germany and German speaking areas in Austria, South Tyrol and Alsace. Currently, it’s possible to visit Christian countries all around the world during December and be able to wander around a Christmas market with the smell of wine wafting through the aisles of the stalls.
In history, the Dresden market in Germany is thought to be the oldest one recorded, beginning in 1434. The markets were held during Advent to welcome the arrival of Jesus and it was traditional for a local boy to play the role of Jesus. This gave rise the to the alternative name of Christ Kindle, or ‘Christ child’ market.
Food and wines were the original products being sold on the market stalls in Germany. Traditional preserved fruits, stolen cake, gingerbreads and bratwurst were all the celebratory foods eaten during the holy season. Hot mulled wine or Gluwein was sold, together with a hot egg-based alcoholic drink called Eierpunsch.
In modern times the food and wine is still as popular as ever, but most markets now cater for people looking for Christmas presents, so toys, Christmas decorations and other craft stalls are very popular. The hot red wine drunk by the glass can also be bought for visitors to give a bottle of red wine as a gift for family or friends.
In the UK, Lincoln was the first city to begin holding a regular event and the atmosphere of this ancient city, with its historic castle at the top of the hill and market stalls set around both the top of the city and hot mulled wine stalls and mince pies along the steep lanes running up the market still give it a very cosy and Christmassy feel.
The tradition has obviously been transferred across the Atlantic to the States with its array of different nationalities. Food and drink still are high on the popular items at all the markets around the country, especially in Chicago where the market attracts over 300,000 visitors.
The east coast of the States is where most of the markets are held, but Texas and Wisconsin also hold their own markets where authentic American produced wines can be savoured and a glass of Merlot or Rose Grenache adds a real American twist to an ancient European tradition. Willamette Valley tours