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I was doing some research about the Christmas markets and I found this in Wikipedia. It is an overview of the history and origin of the Christmas markets in German speaking Europe. It gives an idea about the importance of the Christmas markets in European countries.

“A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, Austria, South Tyrol and Alsace but are now being held in many other countries.

The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. In many towns in Germany and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas market or “Weihnachtsmarkt”. In southern Germany and Austria it is sometimes called a “Christkind(e)l(s)markt” (German language, literally meaning “Christ child market”). Generally held in the town square and adjacent pedestrian zones, the market sells food, drink, and seasonal items from open-air stalls, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. Popular attractions at the market include the Nativity Scene (a crèche or crib), Zwetschgamännla (figures made of decorated dried plums), Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), Christstollen (Stollen), a sort of egg bread with candied fruit, Bratwurst, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market: Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg-based warm alcoholic drink). Both help stave off the cold winter air which sometimes dips below freezing. Many other handmade items, toys, books, Christmas tree decorations and ornaments (and in recent years less useful gadgets) can be found at a Christkindlmarkt.

Berlin claims over 70 markets, which open in late November and close just after Christmas.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_market

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