We love Christmas markets. But where does this tradition come from?
For nearly 30 years, Christmas markets have gradually settled in the city centres and even in some villages. For the greatest happiness of children, but also of adults. In addition to its commercial aspect and the possibility for everyone to make their Christmas purchases, there is a magical atmosphere. How can you not be amazed by the decorations, the smells, and the festive atmosphere before the time?
How has this practice spread and where does it come from?
Christmas markets: an ancestral tradition
While their number has increased exponentially over the past quarter-century, Christmas markets have actually existed for a very long time in some countries. The first market to be documented was held in 1434 in Dresden, Germany.
Indeed, this beautiful heritage comes from Eastern Europe, with Germany in the first place. Then he settled in Alsace, where the first Christmas market in Strasbourg dates back to… 1570! As St. Nicholas was Santa’s spiritual elder, these markets were then called “St. Nicholas’ Markets”. It should be noted that even today, children in Eastern France remain very attached to this tradition, which was celebrated on December 6.
A pretty custom that has spread throughout France
The famous Strasbourg market, which is held at the foot of the cathedral, is considered today as the most beautiful in France. With its 300 wooden chalets and its many activities, it welcomes thousands of visitors every year, sometimes from very far away.
Gradually, this festive event spread throughout the country. Other Alsatian cities also organize magnificent Christmas markets, such as Colmar, which has five of them, or Mulhouse. In addition to this region, we can mention Bordeaux, Toulouse, Béthune, as well as many other cities.
What was found at these Christmas markets?
Initially, these were mainly food markets. Indeed, an exceptional meal was representative of a successful Christmas. It is very likely that a typical meal would have been customary.
In the 19th century, the stalls gave way to cottages. Gradually, culinary traditions diversified: fruits from elsewhere, sweets, but also the installation of a fir tree.
Some merchants or craftsmen such as herbalists, fripiers, merciers or saddlers have also made their entry.
What about today?
Today, Christmas markets take many forms. Most of the time they are organized by the municipalities that set the tone.
You will often find commercial products, but also local handicraft creations, original Christmas decorations, and regional products. And not only mulled wine and traditional pastries are available but also entertainment. Large wheel or ephemeral skating rink will allow you to have fun.
So, ready for a family walk or with friends? Christmas’ markets are open all over France, you will certainly find some near you.
And why not take the opportunity to start decorating your home interior for future visits?