History and Tradition
Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago. Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a stable event on the plaza ever since. Together with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE), Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions in the heart of the city.
The vision of the Christkindlmarket Chicago was first conceptualized in 1995. The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACCoM) Consulting Services was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACCoM, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services for GACCoM, initiated the partnership with the city officials of Nuremberg, Germany. Mr. Lotter invited companies from Germany and the Chicago area to participate in the first Christkindlmarket Chicago in 1996. The market was an instant success and continues to flourish.
The Christkindlmarket Chicago is also the perfect place for teachers and professors of the German language to bring their students. Here, they have the opportunity to practice skills at the market with numerous German speaking vendors. Several educational activities for students visiting the market include: scavenger hunts, interviews with vendors, or even singing German holiday songs for all to enjoy. At the market, students get to experience authenitc German traditions without having to travel any farther than the city of Chicago. From Kindergartners to graduate students the message is loud and clear: The Christkindlmarket is fun, fun, fun!
The name “Christkindlmarket” originates from the mythical tale of the Christkind (the name changes depending on regional provenance to the diminuitive like Christkindl, Christkindle, and Christkindel). She is a fairy-like being, dressed in a gold and white robe with a crown atop her golden locks. Depending on region and family tradition, either the “Christkind” (pronounced Kristkint) or the “Weihnachtsmann” (Father Christmas or better known as Santa Claus) will be the bearer of gifts.
The tradition of the Christkind is known among German-speaking countries including Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as in the Czech Republic, Italy, Liechtenstein, and even some South American countries.
The market has welcomed Nuremberg’s former Christkind to the city of Chicago for the past thirteen winter holiday seasons. Every year, the Christkind, who serves as an official representative of the city of Nuremberg, opens the Chicago Christkindlmarket with her famous decree. Her participation in the Annual Grand Opening Ceremony has been a cherished tradition since 1997. The ceremony takes place on Daley Plaza on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day.
Rebekka Volland, the 2007-2008 Nuremberg Christkind, is the official Christkind for the Christkindlmarket Chicago 2009-2010. Rebekka was chosen to be the Christkind in Nuremberg on November 7th, 2007 by a jury when she was only 18 years old.
Rebekka is originally from Nuremberg. She has a younger brother, with whom she enjoys watching games of the city’s soccer team 1. FC Nuremberg. Her hobbies are breakdancing, playing the piano as well as snowboarding. Since her high school graduation this summer she has been calling Canada her temporary home.
Dates and Times
The Christkindlmarket Chicago will be open daily from November 24, 2010 – December 24, 2010.
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm Friday & Saturday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2010: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm Christmas Eve, December 24, 2010: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Daley Plaza (50 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602)
Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!