Shopkeeper selling Christmas-themed goods at the Christkindlmarket at the Daley Plaza in Chicago

Neighborhood News: Christkindelmarkets are back in Chicago Loop and Wrigleyville

Shopkeeper selling Christmas-themed goods at the Christkindlmarket at the Daley Plaza in Chicago

Ach du liebe! Tis the season to celebrate a tradition that stretches all the way back to the Middle Ages…gathering in celebration and community, bringing light and laughter to a traditionally dark, cold season.

Christkindelmarketswill be openingat Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street, from November 17 – December 24. Sundays through Thursdays, they’ll be open 11am–8pm. Fridays and Saturdays, the hours are 11am–9pm. 

In Wrigleyville, Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark Street, Christkindelmarketwill openNovember 17 and run through December 31. Their hours are Monday through Thursday: 3pm – 9pm, Friday through Saturday: 11am–10pm, and  Sunday: 11am–7pm

But as Smithsonian Magazinerecounts, Christmas markets evoke nostalgia, with their glowing lights, sugary smells and joyful sounds reminding visitors of yuletides past. 

Shop the Holidays!

In Downtown Chicago:

On Thanksgiving (November 23) they’ll be open 11am–4pm, and on Christmas Eve (December 24) from 11am–4pm.

In Wrigleyville:

They’ll be open on Thanksgiving from 11am– 4pm, Christmas Eve from 11 am– 4pm, Christmas Day (December 25): CLOSED, and December 26 through December 28: 11am –9pm, and New Year’s Eve (December 31): 11am–4pm.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago, according to their website, “is the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe, offering a unique shopping experience, family-friendly events & intercultural activities.”

History of Christkindelmarkets 

Christmas markets, according to Wikipedia sources, have been a German tradition since at least the mid 1500s. Seasonal markets were held in Germany year around. Christmas markets were an especially joyous, anticipated event, as they brought light and laughter to a cold, dark season.

However, Smithsonian Magazine traces the Christmas market’s roots back to Vienna in 1296, when Duke Albrecht I authorized 14-day fairs in the month of December. Despite the timing of these festivities, the fairs weren’t directly connected to Christmas and did not appear to be religious in nature.

Another early example of an Advent month—but not necessarily Christmas-themed—market was found in Bautzen, Germany. In 1384, Wenceslas IV, King of Bohemia, gave the city the right to hold a free market, allowing butchers to sell meat until Christmas.

Travel & Leisure Magazine says The Dresdner Striezelmarkt is considered the first genuine Christmas market in the world, dating back to 1434, when it was held for just one day. Today, it’s a massive multiday event where over 200 stalls can be found selling sweet treats, Christmas tchotchkes, and more.

Chicago’s Roots 

In Chicago, according to their website, Christkindlmarket  was first conceptualized in 1995 when The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc.(GACC Midwest) was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACC Midwest, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services for GACC Midwest, initiated the partnership with city officials of Nuremberg, Germany.

The inaugural event took place on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, it moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. With the support of the City of Chicago and their Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions for locals and tourists alike.

In 2023, Book A Stammtisch! 

According to their website, ‘Stammtisch’ loosely translates to a ‘regular’s table’ in English. The tables are traditional wooden beer tables and benches, typically found at restaurants and beer gardens around Germany that can be privately reserved for exclusive use. 

At the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago, the heated, alpine-style Timber Haus can be booked for an exclusive experience with friends, family or colleagues at  12 festively decorated tables which can be reserved individually or together, depending on availability. Four different packages are available for an authentic German tasting experience. The food, including pretzels and variations of sausages, is prepared by German vendors and served family style. For more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago