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The earliest Christmas markets in Germany date back to atleast 1434.

Local craftsmen and food vendors found that if they set up their wares around

the town's churches during Christmas activities, the public would buy their

goods to eat and to give as gifts for the holiday. Thus the Christkindl Market

was established and over the centuries have evolved from an age-old custom

to the Market we celebrate today.

Mifflinburg's version of this 700-year old German tradition was partially inspired

by the proximity of several churches on Market Street. These churches also

serve as venues for various Christmas programs and provide a haven of warmth

to visiting families for the three days each year that Market Street is lined with

the festive outdoor huts, sounds, and unique smells that make our Christkindl

Market so special.

The Origins of the Christmas Market

In parts of Austria, Germany, northern Italy, Switzerland, and several other central European countries, the traditional bringer of Christmas gifts each yera is the Christkind or Christ Child. The tradition of the Christkind as a gift bringer has its roots in the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther, in an attempt to discourage the veneration of Saint Nicholas, promulgated the idea of the Christ Child bringing gifts to the children each year.

These changes created some regional differences in the celebration of Christmas within German-speaking countries, which is why many traditions today vary and sometimes overlap. These regional differences are also the reason that many traditional Christmas markets in Germany or Austria are called Weihnachtsmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, or Christkindlmarkt. In the end, however, each regional version is simply a Christmas Market.

The Christkind (Christ Child)

Heritage of the Erzgebirge Mountains

Many traditional parts of a Christkindl Market come from the Erzgebirge Mountains (Ore Mountains) of Saxony in eastern Germany. During the 17th century this prosperous mining area was depleted of its natural resources and the miners had to develop another method of earning a livelihood.

The miners transitioned their avocation of carving wooden figures during festive occasions into an artisan industry that still exists today. The Christmas pyramid, nutcrackers, smokers, angels, candle arches, and other holiday figures remain dominant exports from this region. Many of these decorations have become so ingrained in tradition that no genuine Christkindlmarkt would be complete without them. The Mifflinburg Christkindl Market is no exception to that fact and features many Old World traditions rarely seen outside of Germany and Austria.

Take a moment to scroll through some of these traditions below, click to read more.

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