There is no more festive way to get in the holiday spirit than a visit to an old-world European Christmas market. Vienna’s Christmas Market (also called Christkindlmarkt) is one of the most famous, with traditions going back over 7 centuries! In 1296, Austrian Emperor Albrecht I allowed a December market in Vienna. It sold common goods (textiles, groceries), as well as delicious foods. Since its beginnings, the Vienna Christmas Market (then called the Thomas Markt) focused on handcrafted goods from small sellers/traders. In the first half of the 19th century, residents of the city started celebrating Christmas as we know it, following the traditions of Northern Germany. In 1814, the custom of giving Christmas presents arose (yay!), and the market expanded. There are several Christmas markets in Vienna, but the most popular one is called Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz. Located in front of City Hall, there are about 145 stalls and over 3 million visitors each year!
- It is magical to visit the Christmas market at night. Take a look at this 360 panorama of the market, and then some of the photos from the official website. If you were there, where would you head first? Do you love old cultural traditions? What does your family to do celebrate the holidays?
- Half the fun of the market is the food and beverages! Can you imagine the smells of gingerbread, waffles, roasted chestnuts, and punch? Watch this video of the Austrian Christmas Markets – what made you the hungriest? What is your cultural heritage – and what foods does your family make to celebrate the holidays?
- Did you know that one of the most iconic souvenirs of winter (and travel) is the snow globe? And, that it was created in Vienna? Where else?! Read this article on the history of the snow globe, and then look at these photos from a visit to the museum.Discuss how a simple invention can create such a global stir – for over a hundred years! In small groups, create a new item that celebrates a holiday. Share with the class what it means and celebrates!