November 4


Every year again… – Christmas market tradition

By Frank

November 4, 2023

Before the two major festivals of Christianity - Easter and Christmas - there was a 40-day fast. Most people know the time before Easter - and increasingly non-believers also fast during this time. However, the Lent period before Christmas has mostly been forgotten, even though it was just as historically important .

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Lent began after Martini , i.e. after November 11th . If you count the days until Christmas (December 25th) - apart from the Sundays that were not fasting days - you get forty days of fasting , just like before Easter . This period of preparation before Christmas is also called St. Philip's Lent , named after the apostle Philip .

The custom of treating yourself to something hearty and fatty again with “ Martinigans ”, but also the fact that carnival takes place on November 11th . begins and is celebrated exuberantly, is a parallel to Easter Lent , which has continued to this day. St. Martin's Day also coincided with the end of the farming year. On this day , all foods that are not suitable for fasting - such as meat, eggs and dairy products - should be consumed. Traditionally, people ate a lot on St. Martin's Day.

Likewise, the custom of only bringing something simple to the table on Christmas Eve and only serving the goose the next day indicates that December 24th was originally the last day of fasting .

Note: Gingerbread, cookies and the like only from Christmas onwards : In the past, the time before the birth of Christ, as well as the time before Easter, was considered a strict period of fasting.

Darkest time

Well, it's probably the darkest time of the year that we're facing now: Advent and Christmas! At least this also means that the streets will now be decorated and illuminated again. In the run-up to Christmas, usually from the end of November to Christmas Eve, a Christmas market is held in many places. The naming varies from region to region and is called, for example , Christkindlesmarkt, Christmas market, St. Nicholas market, Advent market or mulled wine market .

Mulled wine market with an open fire in the foreground

Mulled wine market

History of Christmas markets

The first Christmas markets in German-speaking countries were mentioned more than 600 years ago . However, the markets in the Middle Ages have little to do with our current entertainment events. At the medieval markets , city dwellers were able to stock up on food and everyday items for the upcoming winter.

Market days used to have a completely different meaning than they do today . A market used to be something special ! The market right was granted by a market lord (king, princes, bishops...) and was accompanied by special privileges , such as special protection under which the location of the market but also its visitors were.

The market is something genuinely urban . While the rural population was able to feed themselves, the city residents were dependent on supplies from those living in the surrounding area . They bought from the markets what they needed for daily life but could not produce themselves . Therefore, market law and city law went hand in hand in the Middle Ages.

From the supply market to atmospheric pleasure

The transition from the supply market to atmospheric pleasure began in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time , Christmas changes from a religious to a civil family celebration . Social gatherings and gifts for children are becoming increasingly important for the middle and upper classes . At the pre-Christmas markets there is more food and drink on offer, as well as toys. The custom also dates from this time, .

Social change in the 19th century

With the social change caused by industrialization, many Christmas markets also changed in the 19th century. With the advent of department stores from 1920 onwards, many goods disappeared from the markets because they were cheaper and had a larger selection in department stores. Historical-looking stands, floors covered with bark mulch and traditional handicrafts are then in vogue.

There are now over 370 Christmas markets in Bavaria alone, more than in any other federal state. Large cities often have several markets, small towns or farms hold Christmas markets, but often only for one or a few days. There is a selection of different Christmas markets that we would like to briefly introduce to you here:

  • Traditional Christmas markets
  • Medieval Christmas markets
  • Nostalgic Christmas markets
  • Romantic Christmas markets


Kuchlbauer's Turmweihnacht

Every year during Advent, the whole of Abensberg is transformed into a true Christmas fairy tale. With a Christmas glow of over 300,000 LED lights, the Christmas market at the festively lit Hundertwasser Tower and the KunstHausAbensberg of the Kuchlbauer brewery has developed a very special flair and character in recent years.

The Kuchlbauer Tower is an architectural project based on Friedensreich Hundertwasser. At 35 meters high, it is a beacon of Bavarian beer , as well as a homage to Bavaria and its culture. Pleasant round shapes, dancing windows, uneven floors and organic lines, onion domes and tree tenants - these are the typical elements of Hundertwasser's more humane building in harmony with nature . That makes it unique worldwide.

Hundertwasser Tower Christmas market

Hundertwasser Tower Christmas market Abensberg

What's exciting to see?

Traditional Christmas markets

The joy of steaming mulled wine, the smell of roasted almonds, different dishes and lovingly designed handicrafts are usually common to all. And in many places Santa Claus will be seen handing out presents to the children.

Medieval Christmas markets

Christmas market at Wittelsbacher Platz with equestrian statue

Christmas market at Wittelsbacher Platz

Here you will experience a cheerful spectacle in the light of torches, oil lamps and sparkling fire baskets, often a crispy pig on a spit, cupbearers simmer honey beer, musicians play with the lute, hurdy-gurdy and bagpipes... - a fascinating journey into the colorful, exciting Middle Ages.

Romantic Christmas markets

Markets, as many would like again... tranquil... romantic... enchanted. This can be achieved, among other things, with the magical charm in front of magnificent Baroque, Renaissance or patrician buildings and in small historic old town settings. Markets with a mountain backdrop, enchanting nativity scenes, various traditional craftsmen such as blacksmiths, sheet metal and oven work, coziness and a homely idyll that are reminiscent of the Christmas season of yesteryear are also suitable. Tip: Mountain Christmas in Türkenfeld near Fürstenfeldbruck

Romantic Christmas market Rothenburg with Christmas tree

Romantic Christmas market Rothenburg

There are an incredible number of creative Christmas markets – or markets that take place during Advent. The offer ranges from the gay and lesbian Christmas market, such as the Pink Christmas in Munich, to the erotic Santa Pauli Christmas market in Hamburg. At Tegernsee you can even go Christmas market hopping by boat and visit three Christmas markets around the lake.

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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