Monday, November 30, 2009
The little town of wood and cloth
Today, I want to tell you about the Christkindles Market in Nuremberg, Germany (Bavaria) where I grew up. My cousin in Germany recently wrote in an e-mail that she and my aunt are planning on going, so I was reminded of the enchanting market with lights, glitter, good smells and tastes. (Please be sure to click on the underlined links for more images of the market. I think you will enjoy them.) It's been over five years since I visited Germany and it was during Christmas. At the time my sister and I went, I did not have a digital camera, nor did I blog. Located in the heart of the city, on the Hauptmarkt (the main market), Germany's most famous Christmas market, called the Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt, opens its booths every year to visitors from all over the world. The Nurnberger Christkind (angel) always opens its market on the Friday before the first Advent at 17:30 hours with festive prologue from the gallery of the Frauenkirche (church.) Until Christmas Eve more than 2 Million people visit the Christkindlesmarkt from all over the world. Approximately 180 wooden booths, decorated with red and white cloth, give the Christkindlesmarkt the nickname "Little town of wood and cloth." The at least 200 vendors present a distinct and traditional offer on their wares, such as Nurnberger Lebkuchen (spice and honey cakes), fruit breads, baked goods, typical Christmas articles, such as Rauschgoldengels (tinsel angel), Creche, Christmas tree ornaments, as well as candles, toys and arts and crafts. Most popular souvenirs are the "Nurnberger Zwetchgenmannle", figures made from dried plums. My cousin sent me one last year and I keep him in the fridge because since I live in hot and humid southern Georgia, I have to watch out for, well, you know... Here's my little "Zwetschgamoh" (slang for prune man) with his accordion. I guess my cousin picked him, because she always felt I needed a man and the fact that my dad plays the accordion and so do I. I keep forgetting I have him, because I don't see him in the fridge...poor guy has to live in hiding. They come in men and women forms. Their arms and legs are prunes, their bodies are dried figs and the heads are walnuts. They guys usually have a felt or paper hat with a feather in it and some kind of a burlap, cloth or felt attire and the gals have some sort of cloth, foil or sometimes stiff, pleated, crepe paper skirts...it varies and when they're new, they look quite cute. My guy looks like he's been in the fridge too long. (ok, back to the Christkindlesmarkt) For the stroll through the market, refreshments such as Nurnberger roasted Bratwurst and Gluehwein (glow wine = hot, spiced port wine) are always popular and in demand. The workers of the booths look with critical eye towards tradition. Plastic garland is taboo, as well as constant showers of taped Christmas music or piped in music by the businesses. Also, the Market caretakers work hard in preserving tradition in a festive and tasteful environment, but all that hard work and attention to detail does not go unnoticed. Since 1981, the city of Nurnberg has received the "Zwetschgermoh" award in Gold, Silver and Bronze for having the prettiest booths. With its traditional face, the Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt is also an example for other Christmas markets. The "Little town of wood and cloth" is a very popular backdrop for artists and TV shows alike. More and more American cities are emulating the Nuremberg Christmas Market and soon you won't have to go over there to experience it - well, sort of.