The joyous occasion of Christmas is celebrated on 25 December. The festival, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ, has become popular globally due to the cheerful festivities and its traditions of gift-giving that is observed on this day.
Many traditions of the popular festival have become prevalent everywhere, such as giving gifts to children on Christmas and carolling. Another concept that has grown in popularity over the years is that of Christmas markets. Originally, started in Europe, these huge markets that sell a variety of festive decorations, food, and drinks, have become immensely widespread across the globe.
Be it London, Jerusalem or San Francisco, the concept of Christmas markets remains immensely popular, with people flocking to buy souvenirs, festive decorations, witness the lighting of the Christmas tree or even just view the celebrations taking place with some great food and wine around.
This Christmas, let’s have a look at the history of Christmas markets and how they became a holiday tradition:
Beginning of Christmas markets:
According to National Geographic, the earliest Christmas markets began in Germany in the medieval era. The markets at Dresden, one of the most famous Christmas markets till date, was reported to have opened for a day on Christmas Eve in 1434. However, it remains unclear if they were local markets that were held specifically for Christmas, or just took place during winter. These markets held the biggest collection of pottery, baked goods or even small ornaments and figurines.
Expansion and commercialisation:
The major change in Christmas markets came with the coming of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, with the rise of the working class and an increase in their standard of living. Later, due to various reasons, the markets were moved to the outskirts of the cities, where they went into a period of decline.
Another major development in the emergence of modern Christmas markets in Germany came after the Nazis rose to power. Under Adolf Hitler, the festive markets were moved back to the city and even standardised what could be sold at them. However, the advent of World War II forced many cities to close their traditional Christmas markets.
Re-emergence and present status:
Christmas markets became popular once again only in the 1960s and 1970s, with the rise of consumerism. The decades saw the tradition of Christmas markets become popular globally. With the rise of low-cost travel, tourists from all over the world began visiting these markets to experience the joys of the festival.
While the coronavirus pandemic has led to many cities closing their Christmas markets for the second year in a row, people remain hopeful that the cheerful tradition will soon be back in full swing.