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Christmas balls. Author and copyright M. R.
Christmas balls. Author and copyright M. R.

Christmas markets

Christmas markets are a very old tradition that developed in central Europe several centuries ago, during the Middle Ages. Their origins are connected to German culture and traditions, in fact the first written documents attesting the existence of Christmas markets are documents concerning some German cities. The oldest document found so far which speaks of the ancestors of today’s Christmas markets dates back to the fifteenth century and refers to a Christmas market that took place in 1434 in the German city of Dresden.


Austria together with Germany is the country where the Christmas markets are more genuine, in fact the markets were born in the German-speaking culture of which Austria is a part. Many Austrian towns have their classic Christmas market and the Christmas decorations color every Austrian town and city with lights. The most beautiful Christmas markets in Austria take place in the main cities of the country such as Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Graz. But also small towns such as those of Sankt Veit an der Glan in Carinthia, Steyr in Upper Austria and Imst , Hall and  Kufstein in Tyrol have nice markets during the Advent period.

Christmas markets in Austria.


Belgium, a nation of beautiful historic cities such as Bruges, Ghent, Mechelen, Lovian, Antwerp, Brussels, Mons, Namur, Tournai is also an interesting destination during the Christmas holidays, when you will find the villages lit up with the inevitable Christmas trees and in several towns also the classic Christmas Market.

The best known Christmas Market in Belgium is the one that takes place in Brussels, but the Christmas Markets in Bruges, Liège, Ghent, Namur and Antwerp are also very beautiful. The Christmas markets that take place in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are also very beautiful.

Christmas markets of Belgium.


Christmas market in the Czech Republic means Prague. In the capital of the republic, several Christmas markets are held, the main Prague Christmas markets are located within a short distance of each other.

Interesting Christmas markets also take place in other locations in the Czech Republic, in the beautiful town of Český Krumlov, in Bohemia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a beautiful market takes place scenically set in the streets and squares of the charming historic center. In the city of Brno during the Advent period, the Christmas Market is hosted in three squares in the historic centre. In Olomouc, an important university city in Moravia, the market fills the Alta square in the charming old town.

Christmas markets in the Czech Republic.


Denmark offers numerous opportunities to see the Christmas Markets, among these in the capital Copenhagen the markets of the Tivoli Gardens and Christiana take place, in the ancient cities of Århus and Ålborg other typical markets take place, finally Odense hosts the Christmas Market by Hans Christian Andersen.

Christmas Markets in Denmark.


Estonia has had connections with the Germanic world since medieval times, when the country’s major cities were part of the Hanseatic League and many of the city’s inhabitants, especially the aristocracy, were German-speaking and cultured.

German culture, which has a rich Christmas tradition is also where the first Christmas markets were born in the Middle Ages, has influenced Estonian Christmas traditions in the past, but Christmas markets in Estonia are a recent tradition, the first market dates back to 2001, the most beautiful markets are those of Tallinn and Tartu.

Estonian Christmas markets.


Finland is the land of Christmas, here is the country where Santa Claus lives, the town of Rovaniemi in Lapland.

Christmas Markets in Finland.


In France the Christmas markets are a very ancient tradition, the first documented market is that of Strasbourg in Alsace which dates back to 1570. Alsace of ancient German language and culture is the area of France where the Christmas markets are more widespread and more beautiful, here they are part of the Christmas tradition, as in neighboring Germany. In Provence, on the other hand, the main feature of the Christmas period are the traditional terracotta figurines, the santons that adorn the nativity scenes.

Christmas markets of France.


Germany is the birthplace of the Christmas markets, in fact here the markets have been historically attested since the fifteenth century so this nation has a great tradition and it is here that the Christmas markets are truly authentic and are an integral part of the Christmas traditions. So if you want to see what Christmas markets are really about, visit one of the markets that take place every Advent in every German city.

Christmas markets in Germany.


Christmas in Hungary is the most important holiday of the year, thanks also to the fact that the Christmas festivities coincide with the feast of St. Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state. So for Hungarians, Christmas is not only a religious holiday, but also a national holiday.

There are also numerous Christmas Markets held in Hungary, from the famous Christmas Market in Budapest, to the equally beautiful ones in cities of art such as Győr, Pécs and Sopron.

Hungary Christmas markets.


The most important and best known Christmas market in Ireland is that of Dublin, which takes place in the suggestive Docklands.

But the island has other Christmas markets that are worth a visit, including the Galway Continental Christmas Market and Killarney Market. Other markets take place in the cities of Limerick, Cork and Dun Laoghaire.

Ireland Christmas Markets.


Originally from Germany, and therefore more rooted in the Italian regions that have been under Austrian control for a long time such as Trentino-Alto Adige, the Christmas Markets are now present during the Advent period in many Italian cities and towns.

During the four weeks before Christmas, South Tyrol breathes a Christmas atmosphere without equal in Italy, this is due to the link of the region with German tradition and culture, Germany is in fact the land of origin of the Christmas markets. The usual Christmas markets are held in numerous cities and towns in the region, they are made up of decorated and decorated wooden chalets. The most famous markets are those that take place in Merano, Bressanone, Brunico, Vipiteno and Bolzano. But the markets of small towns such as those of Glorenza, Chiusa, Castelrotto and Val Sarentino are also very characteristic.

As in South Tyrol, the tradition of Christmas markets has also developed in Trentino, in fact during the pre-Christmas period characteristic Christmas markets are organized in some places in Trentino. The most famous markets are those held in Trento, Arco, Pergine Valsugana and Levico Terme.

Christmas markets in Italy.


Latvia boasts of being the place where the tradition of decorating Christmas trees was born, the first tree decorated and decorated to celebrate Christmas was raised in the central square of Riga in 1510, and this is attested in a document of the epoch, this is the oldest written testimony of the use of a decorated tree for the Christmas festivities. Christmas trees in Latvia are decorated in various ways, but one of the most traditional decorations is to hang Christmas decorations made from natural materials such as straw on the tree. Part of the Latvian tradition of Christmas is also the traditional meal of brown peas with pork belly, gravy, small pies, cabbage and sausage.

Christmas markets of Latvia.


The atmosphere of Christmas in Lithuania is the classic one of the Nordic countries, the cities and the countryside are covered in snow, the lakes and rivers are frozen, which helps to make the Christmas period spent in Lithuania unforgettable. The Christmas markets which in Lithuanian are called kalėdinė mugė are a recent tradition, even if part of the country, probably in past centuries, must have had the tradition of Christmas markets alive, having been inhabited by German-speaking populations and having been part of Germany and Prussia for centuries, and as in the case of Klaipėda (Memel, in German) until the end of the First World War. However, the only interesting Christmas Market in the country is the one held in the capital Vilnius.

Lithuanian Christmas markets.


Christmas in Norway is made up of many small traditions, small candles are lit in houses, traditional Christmas trees are made, the main cities come alive with small Christmas markets, churches sing the classic Christmas carols, and in every city events dedicated to this period of the year are organized in the town.

Oslo, the capital, has several Christmas markets and numerous other Christmas-related events; historic Bergen is considered the Gingerbread City; the city of Tromsø, north of the Arctic Circle, is one of the most suggestive places to spend Christmas, here you will also have the opportunity to see the Aurora Borealis; the wooden town of Røros is a truly magical place to visit during the Christmas month; in Norway in the small town of Drøbak, 30 km south of Oslo, there is a very special shop, Tregaarden’s Christmas House, the only permanent shop in Scandinavia dedicated to Christmas.

Norway Christmas Markets.


Poland is a very Catholic country, and therefore Christmas is the most important holiday of the year, deeply felt by the population. During Advent the Poles use to prepare gingerbread (Piernik) in various shapes, opłatek are also prepared, particular unleavened Christmas wafers, similar to hosts, made of wheat flour and water with religious images printed on them, and finally special stars (pajaki) decorated with egg shells are also prepared.

Christmas trees are never lacking in Polish homes, they are decorated with fruit (apples, nuts), chocolate, candles and Christmas balls. The Polish nativity scene (Szopki) is very particular, it is in fact a composition of wood (plywood), paper, and sheets, all assembled and colored. Carols are an important part of the Polish Christmas tradition. The tradition of the markets is a recent thing, the two most beautiful Christmas markets in Poland are those of Krakow, the ancient capital of the country, and of Wroclaw (Wroclaw).

Poland Christmas markets.


Christmas, which is popularly known as “Craciun”, is also celebrated intensely in Romania, in the beautiful historical city of Sibiu, the most beautiful Christmas market in the country is held, but other small markets have sprung up in recent years in the capital Bucharest, in historic Brasov, in Timişoara, and in some other cities of the country.

Christmas markets in Romania.


Slovakia’s most important Christmas market takes place in the capital Bratislava.

Christmas markets of Slovakia.


The most beautiful Christmas market in Slovenia is the one held in the capital Ljubljana, it is a splendid market in a beautiful Christmas atmosphere, very similar to the one created in Prague, although much smaller and more contained. During Christmas the main cities of the country, such as Maribor, but also the smaller towns are decorated with lights and festoons, the Christmas scenario evoked by the snow in the mountains and lakes of Slovenia is very suggestive, such as those of Bled, Bohinj, and in the country’s ski resorts such as Kranjska Gora.

Christmas markets in Slovenia.


Christmas in Spain is the traditional festival most felt by the population, during Christmas the churches fill up with faithful and elaborate nativity scenes (belén, nacimiento, pesebre) and Christmas trees are made in the houses.

There are several Christmas markets throughout the country, however, nothing to do with the Christmas markets of Germany, Austria, France, Trentino-Alto Adige, Belgium or other countries in central and northern Europe. In the Spanish markets, Christmas trees, nativity figurines, fruit, marzipan and other sweets, flowers, handicrafts and candles are sold.

Spain’s main Christmas market is held in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, but the Spanish capital has numerous Christmas markets. The Barcelona Christmas market linked to the Saint Lucia festivity is also very beautiful.

Christmas markets in Spain.


Sweden has important traditions regarding the Christmas holidays, just remember the feast of Santa Lucia which is celebrated close to Christmas, on December 13th. The Christmas markets are also popular in addition to the numerous markets held in the capital of the country, Stockholm, the Christmas markets of Gothenburg, Sigtuna and Malmö are to be remembered.

Swedish Christmas markets.


Advent, the four-week period preceding Christmas, is part of the Christian traditions of Switzerland, typical of the Christmas tradition are the Advent wreaths, the famous Advent calendars, made up of 24 images depicting the themes of Christmas, and the traditional Christmas markets.

There are numerous Christmas Markets held in Switzerland, the most famous being the Christmas Market in Bern, the ones in Neuchatel, Montreux, Biel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne and Zurich are very characteristic.

Of shorter duration, but very suggestive are the markets that take place in the smaller towns of Switzerland such as those of Bremgarten in Aargau or Stein am Rhein in the canton of Schaffhausen.

Christmas markets in Switzerland.


The United Kingdom had a fair tradition of Christmas-related folk celebrations and fairs until the 17th century, but all Christmas-related folk celebrations were abolished in the 17th century and with them the markets disappeared. Only in recent decades have such demonstrations resumed. Many Christmas markets are held in the British capital today. Other cities in the United Kingdom also have their own Christmas markets, among which don’t miss visiting those in Canterbury, Bath, Oxford, Peterborough and in Rochester Castle in England, and those in Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

United Kingdom Christmas Markets.

ATTENTION: We recommend that you check the opening of the Christmas markets with the organizers.


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