While the exact founding date could so far not be researched, each year’s edition of the Nuremberg christmas market continues an old tradition going back to at least the middle of the 17th century. It is safe to assume that Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation initiated a custom of gift-giving for Christmas and that from this time on, merchants seized the opportunity to sell holiday-related goods in the advent weeks. However, it took a while for the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt to develop into a popular event. Around the beginning of the 20th century, the market was held at different locations and failed to attract large numbers. It moved to the Hauptmarkt square in the 1930s and was held there for a while, before the war discontinued the tradition. In an area destroyed in large parts during the war, the Christkindlesmarkt was held again for the first time after the war in 1948.
Among the traditions of the market is the ceremonial opening by the Christkind, a role portrayed by actresses elected by a jury every other year. The Christkind represents the famous market and, by extent, the city of Nuremberg during her reign. As a rule, the actress has to be between 16 and 19 years old and must be from Nuremberg. Another tradition is the reconstruction of the Nativity Story at the center of the square in a creche made from elaborately processed wood. The figurines used for the scene have been manufactured in the 1930s.
There are about 200 market stalls on the market, from where candles, arts and crafts, food, beverages, gifts, Christmas tree decorations and various other items are sold. Nuremberg is famous for the locally made Lebkuchen, a typical sweet treat available around Christmas time. Lebkuchen, sometimes also called Pfefferkuchen (pepper cake) or Honigkuchen (honey cake), are a favorite among visitors, especially for those from overseas.
Visitors from abroad should become familiar with customs regulations concerning the import of food since there are so many tasty options to choose from at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. Also, some planning ahead is recommended as hotel rooms in Nuremberg may be hard to come by. Check the neighboring towns of Erlangen and Fürth also when accomodations become scarce. There are a number of reliable public transport options available from these which will also save you the hassle of having to find a parking space.