The tradition of Christmas markets

21. December 2017 / Tetras Translations

In today’s hectic times, we often lack time for shared moments with family and friends. We especially miss this during the time before Christmas. It is no different at our company Tetras Translations. So every year we organize St. Nicolas Day for the children, an evening Christmas party, and a staff ball.

Do you also enjoy reveling in the special atmosphere of Christmas markets? Christmas markets existed as early as the Late Middle Ages, and especially in German speaking areas. The first St. Nicolas market was held in Munich, Germany, in 1310. These markets became so widespread that in 1384, King Wenceslas granted the city of Bautzen the right to a free meat market. Little by little, markets were also created in other cities. They gave people the opportunity to stock up on food, clothing and other necessary items before winter. In the 14th century, demand increased for handmade toys, woven baskets, sweets, hot chestnuts, roasted hazelnuts and almonds. Since the early 20th century, markets have become a very special occasion during the pre-Christmas period, and this tradition has gradually been expanding all through Europe.

The most famous markets include: Vienna: Rathausplatz, Budapest: Vörösmarty Square, Prague: the Old Town, Cracow: Marketplace (Rynek Główny), Berlin: Alexanderplatz, Nuremberg: Hauptmarkt, Rüdesheim: Christmas market of the nations. Today, Christmas markets sell regional specialties, traditional handicraft products and Christmas decorations.

Globalization of Christmas markets

As already mentioned in the introduction to the blog, Christmas markets originated in Germany and Austria. This tradition has expanded all over Europe and recently has even crossed the Atlantic to the United States. At Christmas markets in London, you can see people from many different countries, such as France, Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Holland, Russia, Romania, Spain and even Canada. In Stuttgart, the Finnish Christmas village has already become a tradition – there you can experience the atmosphere of a Nordic Christmas and enjoy specialties such as reindeer soup or elk sausage.

From a global point of view, also the Rüdesheimer Christmas market of the nations is a very special event. It has been held for more than 20 years. This year, sellers from 20 nations and 6 continents will be at the market. You can find an overview of all participating countries at the following website: Every year, between 250,000 and 300,000 visitors are welcomed. The individual countries present their national specialties or typical traditional products. Mongolian merchants sell cashmere sweaters, the Tunisian stand offers products made of olive wood, and the French bring baked goods, French sparkling wine as well as Crémant, Advent cheese and lavender soap with them.

The magical atmosphere of German Christmas markets

Christmas markets have all the wonderful specialties connected with this wonderful time of the year. You can smell the wonderful aroma of Lebkuchen and Printen. Regional specialties include Berliner Pfannkuchen (doughnuts), stollen, cotton candy, roasted almonds as well as hot chestnuts. Another typical item at German and Austrian Christmas markets is mulled wine, of which there are many varieties. The most interesting in the Feuerzangenbowle (punch in a bowl with a sugar loaf burning on tongs, see also: In Austria, you can find Glühmost, a type of hot wine must, and punch. There is also Christmas beer, including special bock beer for Christmas. At the Christmas markets, St Nicolas and his helpers, as well as Santa Claus and in southwestern Germany also Pelzmärtel (Belsnickel) – the somewhat heftier and gruffer version of St Nicolas – and the Christ Child bring children gifts.


Tetras Translations wishes you a peaceful Christmas season and a successful start to the New Year.