Christkindlmarket: A Holiday Must for All

The iconic bright sign to welcome locals and tourists into the Christkindlmarket.

By Jessica Palmer and Katelin Chong

For those who plan to visit Chicago during the holiday season, visiting the Christkindlmarket is a must. Held annually, Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is inspired by the 16th-century Christkindlmarket that was held in Nuremberg, Germany — people would sell food and supplies for the upcoming winter, uplifting each other’s moods despite the cold weather.

Although I was really excited to get to see the market for the first time, the line to get in was pretty long. It took my friend and I about 30 minutes to get in, and in the freezing weather without enough layers or gloves, it felt a lot longer. The line itself wrapped around the entire block, and it was honestly a bit confusing to find where it ended and where it started.

A bit of patience got us to the market, though, and it was definitely worth it. The two of us immediately smelled the variety of traditional German foods being served at each of the stands — some sweet, some savory, there really was something for everyone! There were even several places to grab an alcoholic beverage for the visitors who were of drinking age.

One of the meals we decided to taste was potato pancakes. The portion size of the pancakes looked small at first glance, they were actually incredibly filling. You had a choice of having them with sour cream or apple sauce on the side, and we settled on having them with sour cream. They were seasoned well and had a unique taste to them, and I definitely recommend them to those who want a quick, filling bite to grab.

Of course, a visit to the Christkindlmarket is incomplete without trying their signature hot chocolate, which was sold at numerous of the booths there. After ordering hot chocolate, visitors are allowed to have the mug as a keepsake to take home — the designs of the mugs change each year, making it interesting for those returning to the festival to see how many different styles they can collect.

There was a multitude of other vendors who were selling items such as ornaments, wood carvings, toys, and other handmade objects, and there was even a stand selling winter scarves and gloves made partially from alpaca fur. The products there were definitely one of a kind, and taking one home would definitely be a souvenir like no other.

Overall, being able to go to the Christkindlmarket for the first time was a great experience, especially since I went with a friend. For those who are in the area and looking for something interesting to do this December, visiting the market is a great option to get to know more of Germany’s culture.