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History - A centuries-old German tradition

Christmas markets have been part of this festive time for centuries in Germany. They were usually held in front of churches and were looked at as part of a church visit. The oldest recorded market dates to 1310 in Munich, Germany. It was called "Nikolausdult" and was very different from the markets of today. It was an opportunity for farmers to come to town, do some shopping and at the same time, offer their wares.

The reformation of the church in the 16th century brought changes to the Christmas markets. Nikolaus was replaced by the Christkindl (Christchild) as the gift giver and the Nikolaus markets became Christkindl markets. This custom began in the Protestant areas of Bavaria with Nuremberg being the first city to call its market "Christkindlesmarkt." Munich, a Catholic city, changed its "Nikolausdult" to "Christkindlmarkt" in 1805.


"This little town is built from wood and canvas. Its splendour's short,
will soon be gone.
But yet it is eternal.
My market is forever young..."

From Nuremberg's Prologue of the Christ Child, an essential part of the Christkindl Market opening ceremonies.

brochure cover

In modern times, Christkindl Markets combine the festive atmosphere of heavenly choirs and succulent foods with gift shopping for such items as toys and other presents for children, crafts and gift items.

Kitchener, Ontario, is the natural location for Canada's original Christkindl Market. Originally known as Berlin, Kitchener was founded by German-speaking Mennonites who emigrated from Pennsylvania to till the virgin soil of what is now Waterloo Region. In fact, descendants of those original Mennonites can still be seen in the region driving their horse-drawn buggies and selling produce in local markets.

In 1996, Christkindl Market was brought to City Hall by founder Tony Bergmeier, to breathe life into downtown Kitchener. Today, over 35,000 visitors from across North America come to experience our award-winning event.

Visit "Come to Germany" website.



"I will be there again on the Saturday to enjoy my childhood memories all over again, not to forget the food and smells of this special time."
Kindling the Christmas Spirit -I remember the first year of the Market about 10 years ago. Snow falling gently, beautiful German music playing outside, high quality Christmas goods for purchase from friendly vendors, hot-mulled cider, the nativity scene, the skaters - what atmosphere!!! The magic has hooked me ever since. So much different from the mall! Thanks for kindling the Christmas spirit.
Our family has been coming to the Christkindl Market in Kitchener for five years now. We absolutely love it there. The sights, sounds and smells really put us in the Christmas spirit. This has become a very cherished part of our Christmas traditions. Three generations of our family take part in it. What a special time is had by all. Thanks for the memories...already looking forward to next year.
It is awesome! This reminds me of all of the traditional Christmas markets I saw in Germany. I loved the markets in Germany and miss them a great deal, how nice it is to relive a bit of the atmosphere here in Kitchener.
Wonderful - An annual event for myself!
Santa does not have to be in a red suit The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Kitchener: My four-year-old daughter; two-year-old son, my Mom and I had gone to Christkindl on Dec 7. My son was in total rapture as he looked upon a display of moving toys. To the right of me was a lady watching my son's gazing and dreamy state. The lady took a box with the toy inside and shoved it under my arm; my reaction was no, no, no. I looked at this kind-hearted lady and she said she wanted to buy it for the little guy, and that she was going to be thinking about him on Christmas morning as he unwraps his gift from her. I want her to know Santa does not have to be in a red suit with bells on and a beard. He could also be a she, a kind and special lady.
I’m now feeling the Christmas Spirit, Thank you!
Wonderful Tradition!
Ich war nur mal zu einem Christkindl Markt. Das war circa 1975 in Pforzheim im Schwarzen Wald. Ich kann mich noch nach all diesen Jahren an die wunderbaren Lichter und Aromas, so wie all die schoene Musik und die Weihnachts Stimmung, ganz gut erinnern, als wenn es gestern war. Vielen Dank dass Sie diese herrliche Tradition aus Deutschland herueber gebracht haben. Ich wuenschte wir koennten jaehrlich kommen um den Christkindl Markt zu besuchen.
Wonderful! My husband is German- was like “home” for him! Visiting is becoming a yearly tradition! Thanks!
I just want to thank the team that sets up the Christmas Tree and oversees Christkindl. What a wonderful way to spend a lunch hour! I go every year on Thursday and Friday. I LOVE it! It just lifts the spirits and is so "magical"! Thank you for such a wonderful experience, every year!
Think Oktoberfest, except that the beer is replaced with Christmas cheer.
Ich Liebe Christkindl Markt
Beautiful. Love the nativity and ornaments. Everything ist wunderbar
My mom has taken my brother and I to the Christkindl Market ever since it first opened. We felt surrounded by love and happiness and enjoyed being around the German community - especially because we could not be with our family in Germany at Christmas. I still remember and still feel the warm feelings I first felt when I visit the Christkindl Market. I always make sure I attend each year with my Mom and now take my daughter along as well. I hope she too will be able to attend for years to come and in the future, bring her children as well.
Love it. Traditional December event we all look forward to at our house. Thanks!
As the rest of the world gallops forward, there is a tradition that keeps people in Waterloo Region firmly rooted in the past, at least during Christmas. The annual four-day Christkindl Market opens Thursday in front of Kitchener City Hall, recreating a Bavarian tradition first officially recorded in 1310. The original market, called Nikolausdult, was designed as a temporary affair constructed from wood and canvas and erected in front of a church. Visitors from far and wide would arrive to both sell and purchase items, some from other countries, giving the market an international flavour. Then in a few days, it would all disappear. “It’s about tradition,” she said. “That’s what people are looking for.” The market features vendors, selling all manner of items: German-made toys, handcrafted jewelry, art glass items, gift baskets, beeswax candles, gifts, chocolate and marzipan, original art, music, leather, hand-painted wearable art, tree decorations, music boxes and everyone’s favourite, apple fritters. Christkindl Market takes over much of city hall, both inside and out, with gift vendors indoors and food outdoors on Civic Square, where they will pander to anyone with a hankering for Germanic food, including schnitzel, marinated herring and Schinken on a bun as well as the regular crowd pleasers such as sausage, potato pancakes, stollen and waffles. This is no time to go on a diet. And for those needing a rest, the 10th floor has been turned into a place to sit, relax and eat your goodies.
It brings back memories of Germany during the Christmas season!
It is well organized
My husband's family is German and up until we visited the Christkindl Market a few years ago I only had stories and some samplings of the different Christmas foods from Germany from his family. Until we visited your wonderful market I never really understood the fascination my husband has always had for German Christmas. Since that first visit my husband starts planning our next visit in October! He wouldn't miss it for the world and I have come to appreciate his heritage even more through experiencing this bit of Germany in Canada! Every year we bring our teenagers and invite our friends. Thank you for all your hard work - Christmas isn't Christmas for us now without the Christkindl Market!
Love it-part of my yearly Christmas tradition!
Love your market!!
As always, our family enjoyed the Christkindl Market so very much! Thank you for nurturing this tradition in Kitchener - we hope it keeps going for many, many years... Thank you once again for a wonderful Christmas experience our family has made part of our yearly tradition!
Love the Market! It’s my first time here and it’s been awesome! Thank you!
Love the market, reminds me of my time living in Germany
Can you please do a candlelight precession on Friday and Saturday nights too?
Love this festival - begins Christmas!
Nice to preserve our cultural heritage. We really enjoyed the train room
Herrliche Tradition aus Deutschland - Ich war nur mal zu einem Christkindl Markt. Das war circa 1975 in Pforzheim im Schwarzen Wald. Ich kann mich noch nach all diesen Jahren an die wunderbaren Lichter und Aromas, so wie all die schoene Musik und die Weihnachts Stimmung, ganz gut erinnern, als wenn es gestern war. Vielen Dank dass Sie diese herrliche Tradition aus Deutschland herueber gebracht haben. Ich wuenschte wir koennten jaehrlich kommen um den Christkindl Markt zu besuchen.
Just like Germany! Love the organ grinder!
We absolutely love it! It's been a family tradition to go to the German Christmas market at the Toronto International Centre since I was a small child back in the 70's and 80's. Now I have children of my own and we have been coming to the Kitchener Christkindl Market for the past 10 years. We stay at a nearby bed and breakfast go to the farmers market and then the Chirstkindl. It's a beautiful weekend that we look forward to all year long. I love the whole German feel. My mother was German from Darmstadt. We grew up speaking German with all the German customs and festivities. Christmas and Nikolaus Tag were our favourites. Your Christkindl still captures that traditional German feel with the products, food, childrens/adult choir and German people. The smell of the the roasted beer nuts, bratwurst, goulash soup, saurkraut, potato pancakes and blacksmith fire in the crisp, cold winter air creates a feeling in me that I cannot explain. It really makes me and my family feel wonderful and happy. With all the craziness in today's world, it's so good to know we can disappear for a weekend in the warmth and nostalgia of the Christkindl.
Christmas spirit ...we like to see all of the vendors. It's a wonderful event and my Christmas spirit doesn't begin until I attend your festival.
Excellent community spirit and great event for family. Loved the food, gluhwein, apple fritters, sauerkraut..
We love it! It gets us in the Christmas spirit!
Nice! I just moved back from living in Europe for 9 years, this was so nice!