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Christmas markets in Berlin

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Christmas market at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

The Christmas markets in Berlin include markets with craft demonstrations, sales offers and rides at Christmas time, which take place in all districts of Berlin. The precursors of the markets can be traced back to the year 1530 in Old Berlin

History

Berlin Christmas Market (1796)

In the Köllnisches Stadtbuch[1] there are first references to Christmas market-like sales events around 1530, first held in the streets Petriplatz – Gertraudenstraße – Köllnischer Fischmarkt – Mühlendamm – Molkenmarkt – Poststraße and Heiligegeiststraße. Thus, “real grocers were expressly permitted to trade in honey cakes and other syrup dough pastries at Christmas time on Petriplatz and Köllnischer Fischmarkt for a site fee of two Mariengroschen per day.”[2]

From 1750, the city administration moved the trade to Breite Straße, which initially lasted from 11 December to 6 January of the following year (High New Year). The Christmas market remained in the city centre – later extended towards Schlossplatz – until 1873, after the end of the sales period had been brought forward to 27 December from 1872. However, there were repeated attempts to prohibit the holding of the market because it considerably impaired the traffic in the city centre and the businessmen in Breite Straße saw their sales endangered by the Christmas market; it was “in fact a completely outdated grocer’s institution that no longer corresponded in any way to the conditions and dignity of the capital of the Reich”[2]

Franz Skarbina: Christmas market in Berlin, 1892

In 1873 the Lustgarten became the location, but due to the building of the cathedral and police concerns the market was held at Arkonastrasse from 1891, interrupted by the First World War. In 1937, the market returned to the Lustgarten until just before the end of World War II and had up to 2000 traders at its peak.[3]

In the first winter of peace, a Christmas market was held again at the Lustgarten as early as 1945, but amidst ruins and with the purchase of luxury foods restricted by food stamps.[4]

As a result of the division of Berlin into two currency areas, Christmas markets were established in the western sectors after 1948, with locations at the Gedächtniskirche, in Spandau and at the Wedding Town Hall.

In the eastern part of Berlin, organizers essentially held on to the old location until 1974. In 1952 and 1953, the Christmas market on the areas of the Lustgarten, the demolished Berlin City Palace, and Schloßplatz, which were combined to form Marx-Engels-Platz, featured a Lilliput train (gauge 381 mm) operated by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Junge Eisenbahner, a forerunner of the Pioniereisenbahn Wuhlheide.[5] Around 1960, the small alleys of the Christmas market on Marx-Engels-Platz were heated by infrared long-field radiators. From 1974 onwards, the entire Marx-Engels-Platz was used as a venue for events, even after the completion of the Palace of the Republic. In addition, the magistrate chose a large parking lot at Alexanderplatz, and between 1962 and 1968 an area next to the sports hall in Karl-Marx-Allee. Except for the Mitte borough, there were soon short-lived Christmas markets in each of the former boroughs, mostly around the respective city hall.

In the western part of Berlin, a Christmas market was held on the exhibition grounds until 1983, occupying half of the exhibition halls. This Christmas market under the Radio Tower took place exclusively in the halls and had more the character of a Christmas and toy exhibition. There was a children’s theatre and one hall each with nativity scenes from all over the world and model railways. The market was later no longer held here – abandoned in favor of the location at the Gedächtniskirche.[6]

Christmas markets since the end of the 20th century

Am Breitscheidplatz

Of the approximately 80 Christmas markets in 2019 in the Berlin districts, the following is an overview of selected Christmas markets.[7] In 2020, all Christmas markets were cancelled due to the Corona pandemic.

Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

  • Christmas market at the Gedächtniskirche since 1983: artisans, traders, showmen. 2.3 million guests were recorded for 2004.[8] Location: Breitscheidplatz.[9]
On the evening of December 19, 2016, a terrorist attack was carried out on the Christmas market, killing twelve people and injuring many.
  • Vegan Christmas market on Fehrbelliner Platz on all Advent weekends.[10] With purely plant-based specialties, ecological gifts, a stage and information about climate protection and animal rights.[11]

At Charlottenburg Palace

  • Am Schloss Charlottenburg: International offerings such as South Tyrolean and Russian specialties, additionally on offer husky sleigh rides, puppet show. Location: Luisenplatz[9]
  • Wintertraum Weihnachtsmarkt Wilmersdorfer Straße: Since 2004, 30 decorated wooden huts offer handicraft products, drinks, almonds and other sweets.[12]
  • Grunewald Christmas Market: Since 1976 on the first Sunday of Advent around the Grunewald Church with over 60 stalls.[13]
  • Christmas market at St.-Michaels-Heim: Every year on the first Advent weekend from Friday to Sunday, in and around Palais Mendelssohn in the Grunewald villa colony, now St.-Michaels-Heim, with stalls, flea market, film screenings in the salon and an Advent service on Sunday.[14]
  • Swedish Christmas Bazaar: Christmas market of the Swedish Victoria Community in Wilmersdorf, every year on an Advent weekend, Saturday and Sunday.[15]
  • Danish Christmas Market: Christmas market of the Danish community in the Wilmersdorfer Christianskirche, also taking place every Saturday and Sunday on a selected Advent weekend.[16]
  • Anglican Christmas Market: Christmas Market of St. Georges Episcopal Church in Westend.[17]

Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg

  • Christmas market at United Nations Square: Since about 1995, wooden huts have offered mulled wine, Christmas pastries and roasted almonds as well as products from artisans, and children’s rides are set up. A section of the eastern part of the street is completely closed to through traffic.[18] On 27 November 1995, an accident occurred with the mobile ride Top of the World: its ring gondola, which was occupied by 100 visitors, slid down the last few metres without braking. This resulted in 60 injuries.[19]
  • KiezWeihnacht at the Samariterkirche in Friedrichshain, since 2006
  • Hanukkah Market: Jewish-themed offerings with accompanying programs such as puppet shows, concerts. Location: Jewish Museum, Glass Courtyard, Lindenstraße 9[9]

Lichtenberg

  • Light market at the town hall in front of the town hall Lichtenberg, on the first Advent weekend, since 1992; musically framed
  • Medieval Christmas Market in the district of Karlshorst on Theaterplatz, on the second weekend in Advent
  • Christmas market at the Malchow Nature Conservation Station, on the second weekend in Advent
  • Wartenberger Sternenmarkt in and around the Wartenberger Hof, in the first week of December

Marzahn-Hellersdorf

  • Alt-Kaulsdorf Christmas market around the historic village green on Dorfstraße, since 1996, on the second weekend in Advent[20]
  • Advent market Alt-Marzahn around the historic village centre Alt-Marzahn, on the first Advent weekend[21]

Middle

In front of the Red City Hall 2011

Noise at the Christmas market at the Neptune Fountain

  • Although there is no Christmas market at the Brandenburg Gate, Christmas trees have stood there annually on the West Berlin side since the Berlin Wall was built. From the fall of the Wall in 1989 until 2013, these came as a donation from the Norwegian municipality Frogn. Since 2014, private individuals from Berlin and the surrounding area have donated the traditional tree.[8]
  • Alexanderplatz: artisans, traders, showmen, in front of the Alexa-Center
  • Berlin Christmas time at the Red Town Hall: Rathausstraße, Marienplatz, Neptunbrunnen, since 2008, realized under the direction of Hans-Dieter Laubinger. Old Berlin market alleys are recreated by six-meter-high printed tarpaulins and a basic framework. The market stalls are located below, the windows of the first floor are illuminated. In addition to the vendor booths, there are small historic children’s carousels as well as a Ferris wheel on Spandauer Straße and an ice rink around the Neptune Fountain.[22][23] This market was somewhat reduced in size in 2014 due to the excavation pit for the U5 subway line in front of the city hall and the reconstruction of the churchyard around the Marienkirche, so a chain carousel is not included at all.[8]
  • WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt: artisans, traders, showmen in the form of a small tent city, additionally cultural program with changing offers. Location: Gendarmenmarkt around the Schauspielhaus.[9] An entrance fee is payable to visit the market from 2pm, part of which is donated to charity.[24]
  • Nostalgic Christmas market: artisans such as broom makers, candle makers, wood carvers and others demonstrate their work in small wooden huts in front of interested visitors and sell the products. A surprise bazaar and cabaret performances frame the market. Until 2009, the market was located between the State Opera House, the former Princess Palace and the boulevard Unter den Linden. Due to extensive construction work, the operator then had to move to the open space in front of the Friedrichswerder Church, then to Schinkelplatz. Because construction is also underway there, the Nostalgic Christmas Market will take place in December 2014 on an area of Schloßplatz in front of the former Staatsratsgebäude. The number of artisan and merchant stands has been reduced to 87, but a few historic carousels will be set up instead.[8]
  • Environmental Christmas Market: arts and crafts and ecological products are offered. Location: Sophienstraße, near the Hackesche Höfe[9]
  • Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz and traditional Christmas market: an artificial snow-covered mountain and ice rink have been inviting visitors to toboggan, tube, skate for several years; Austrian dishes are offered; merchant offerings. Location: around Potsdamer Platz[9]
  • In 2014, there was a Christmas market for the first time on Washingtonplatz in front of the main station. The operator placed her market under the motto of design and enjoyment, for which 30 traders presented their products to visitors in a larger tent. Around the tent further offers were available in wooden huts. In addition, evening performances by various Berlin choirs took place.[8]

Pankow

  • Advent market at Kollwitzplatz: Eco-Christmas market, co-organized by the Green League Berlin
  • Lucia Christmas Market: the basis of the extensive cultural offerings is the Swedish Lucia Festival, location: Kulturbrauerei[9]
  • The Blankenburg Christmas Festival is an annual Christmas market in the Pankow district of Blankenburg. It is held under the motto: A village gives itself a Christmas festival.[25]
    Since 2009, the Blankenburg Christmas Festival has been held on the second Advent on the grounds of the Protestant church community, street Alt-Blankenburg 17. The non-commercial festival is organised on a voluntary basis by the citizens as well as with the support of regional associations, institutions and tradesmen and is under the patronage of the Blankenburg Round Table. On offer are mainly self-made art objects and handicraft products. At the same time, the annual Advent carol singing takes place in the village church.[25][26] In 2014 and 2016 there were about 2000 visitors[27][28] and in 2015 there were about 2500 visitors.[29]

Reinickendorf

  • Christmas market at the Clou: ornaments, handicrafts, Christmas cookies. Location: Kurt-Schumacher-Platz[9]
  • Nordic Christmas Market in Tegel: since 1973, location: Brunnenplatz (cancelled in 2008)[30]

Spandau

Knusperhaus at the Spandau Christmas Market

  • With 1.8 million visitors (as of 2004), the Christmas market in the district of Spandau is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany, according to Berlin’s city advertising agency visitberlin.de.[31] It has been held annually in the old town of Spandau since 1 Advent in 1974. In 1977, parts of the cultural program were broadcast on television, which contributed to the increased popularity of the market. Since 1983, the market has opened its stalls on all Advent weekends, with over 400 stalls taking up a large part of the Old Town. On weekdays there are around 200 stalls of market traders, artisans and showmen in the larger streets of the Old Town. A stage in the market square hosts a cultural program of daily performances, including Friday concerts and WinterZauberBerlin. Also noteworthy are a nativity scene with live animals in front of St. Nicholas Church on Reformation Square and the bazaar of the Spandau schools in the old post office courtyard on Carl-Schurz-Strasse.[32] As part of the Advent market events, a sales show of handicrafts from Berlin and Brandenburg will take place at the Gothic House in Breite Straße under the slogan “Living Crafts in Advent”. Especially basket weavers, candle makers, glass blowers, porcelain painters show their craft on site.
  • There is also a children’s Christmas market at the Julius Tower on the Citadel, which is modelled on a town decorated for Christmas and offers a range of activities for children.

Tempelhof/Schöneberg

  • Christmas Avenue Berlin : In 2019, Berlin’s LGBTIQ community held a Christmas market at Nollendorfplatz.[33]

In art and literature (selection)

Berlin boy from the Christmas market
by Franz Skarbina, around 1890

The following artists drew among others Motifs of the Berlin Christmas Market:

  • Ludwig Burger, Dreierschäfken, forest bibel and pyramid sellers at the Berlin Christmas market, woodcut, c. 1865
  • Carl Rechlin, Christmas Market in Berlin, drawing, 1865
  • Theodor Hosemann, Children selling pyramids, little sheep and forest devils (note: “forest devils” was the name of the large humming tops), wood engraving, 1869
  • H. Lüders, Drawing Christmas Life in the Streets of Berlin, 1871
  • H. Henseler, Berlin Christmas Market, drawing, c. 1890
  • D. Nitschke, Christmas market in the pleasure garden in front of the cathedral, drawing around 1900
  • Hans Baluschek, Christmas market on Arkonaplatz, drawing, 1910
  • Heinrich Zille, Christmas market on Arkonaplatz, chalk drawing around 1912
  • Paul Adolf Hauptmann, Christmas Market in front of the Cathedral in the Pleasure Garden, oil painting, c. 1930

The historic Berlin Christmas market also found its expression in numerous poems, reports, stories by writers such as:

  • Willibald Alexis: Review of the Christmas Market 1835[34]
  • Wilhelm Raabe: Christmas Eve in Sperlingsgasse.
  • Ludwig Tieck, Novelle: Christmas Eve.
  • Gottfried Keller, Poem Berlin Christmas Market.
  • Adolf Glasbrenner, Sketch Christmas Market.
  • Georg Hermann: Jettchen Gebert goes Christmas shopping.
  • Fedor von Zobeltitz: Christmas in Berlin around 1870.

Literature

  • Christa Lorenz: Berlin Christmas Market. Pictures and stories from 5 centuries. Berlin-Information, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-7442-0011-6.
  • Kurt Pomplun: Christmas and New Year in old Berlin. Ein Beitrag zur Volkskunde der Großstadt (= Berliner Forum. Band 14/69). Press and Information Office of the State of Berlin, Berlin 1969.
  • Renate Steinchen (ed.): Alt-Berliner Weihnacht. The house book for the Advent and Christmas season with stories, customs, songs, cooking and baking recipes from Berlin. Argon, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-87024-283-3.
  • Jutta Schneider: 11 December 1750: Christmas Market in Breite Straße. In: Berlinische Monatsschrift (Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein). Heft 12, 1999, ISSN 0944-5560, pp. 75-77 (luise-berlin.de).

Web links

Commons: Berlin Christmas Market– Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Paul Clauswitz: Das Stadtbuch des alten Köln an der Spree aus dem Jahre 1442. mit geschichtlicher Einleitung und Erläuterungen. ed. by the Verein für die Geschichte Berlins, Berlin 1921 (Digitalisat).
  2. a b Quoted from Jutta Schneider: December 11, 1750: Christmas Market in Breite Straße. In: Berlinische Monatsschrift (Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein). Heft 12, 1999, ISSN 0944-5560, pp. 75-77, herep . 76 (luise-berlin.de).
  3. Jutta Schneider: 11 December 1750: Christmas Market in Breite Straße. In: Berlinische Monatsschrift (Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein). Heft 12, 1999, ISSN 0944-5560, pp. 75-77 (luise-berlin.de).
  4. German Historical Museum with a passage Christmas markets continued to exist ….
  5. History overview of the Parkeisenbahn Wuhlheide(Memento of 9 August 2004 in the Internet Archive)
  6. Franziska Wüst A behind-the-scenes look at Berlin’s Christmas markets. In: Berliner Morgenpost, 26 November 2013.
  7. Uwe Aulich: Ice rink, Ferris wheel and stall magic. In: Berliner Zeitung, 20 November 2014, p. 18.
  8. a b c d e Market with 2.3 million guests. In: Berliner Zeitung, 27 December 2004.
  9. a b c d e f g h Berlin Program – November 2008; Rimbach, Berlin.
  10. Vegan Christmas Market on Berlin’s Fehrbellinplatz – Veggieradio.Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  11. Vegan Christmas Market at Fehrbelliner Platz.Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  12. Info on the Christmas market in Wilmersdorfer Straße(Memento of 8 December 2010 in the Internet Archive).
  13. Grunewald Christmas Market.Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  14. Christmas market at St.-Michaels-Heim Grunewald.Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  15. Swedish Christmas Bazaar.Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  16. Danish Christmas Market.Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  17. Christmas Market of the Anglican Church.Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  18. Bezirksinfo Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg(Memento of 11 December 2008 in the Internet Archive)
  19. Katrin Zimmermann, Fred Hasselmann: After the accident, the “Green Hell” was still raging. In: Berliner Zeitung, 27 November 1995; Matthias Frankenstein: The public wants world firsts. In: Berliner Zeitung, 28 November 1995.
  20. 21. Kaulsdorf Christmas market bigger than ever before. In: Berliner Woche. Kaulsdorf, 30 November 2017
  21. Advent Market Alt-Marzahn on weihnachteninberlin.de
  22. Uwe Aulich: Christmas market is spoken for. In: Berliner Zeitung, 4 June 2006
  23. Info of the organizer about the market at the Red City Hall
  24. Christmas magic at the Gendarmenmarkt. visitberlin.de
  25. a b Blankenburg Christmas Festival.In: dorfanger-blankenburg.de. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  26. Blankenburg Christmas Festival.12 December 2017, retrieved 12 December 2017.
  27. 6. Blankenburg Christmas Festival 2014.In: dorfanger-blankenburg.de. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  28. 7. Blankenburg Christmas Festival 2016.In: dorfanger-blankenburg.de. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  29. Blankenburg Christmas Festival 2015.In: dorfanger-blankenburg.de. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  30. Info page Historical Christmas Markets
  31. Christmas markets Berlin. visitberlin.de
  32. Anne Vorbringer: Wild mice and candied apples. In: Berliner Zeitung, 22 November 2004
  33. Christmas Avenue. Information from the capital portal Berlin.de, retrieved on 11 January 2020.
  34. Full text at the Center for Berlin Studies.