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Carmen visits Christkindl Market, visit her "Fashionable Over 50 BLOG," 

Read her stories and see her photos. Thank you Carmen for sharing your visit with all of us!


SNAP KW covered Christkindl Market 2012 too.


Jim Fox's One-Tank Trip column: (Click on the links below)

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario
http://www.canoe.ca/Travel/Canada/Ontario/2012/12/05/20409426.html
http://www.lfpress.com/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario 
http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca/2012/12/european-style-christmas-holiday.html
http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario
http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario
http://www.calgarysun.com/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario
http://www.thewhig.com/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario
http://www.edmontonsun.com/2012/12/05/christmas-markets-a-new-tradition-in-southern-ontario


Christkindl Market visitors dig deep and raise over $5,500 for Children's Wish

"...On behalf of Children's Wish, I am absolutely thrilled to let you know that this years' Christkindl Market raised the highest donations todate in the history of the event. How proud you all must be to learn that $5,512. was raised through the "Trip to Germany" draw. That is so amazing and I sincerely hope that you are as excited about that total as the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada is. Congratulations to you all for a job well done and for helping us to grant a very special wish to a very brave and deserving child. Wishing you all the best of the Holiday Season and hopefully knowing that you have helped a child's wish become a reality will make it even brighter."  - Anne Boehm The Children's Wish Foundation, Kitchener


The Record, Sun. Dec. 09, 2012

Christkindl market ignites holiday spirit  

KITCHENER — The smell of schnitzel and lebkuchen filled the air at city hall this weekend for a German holiday tradition.

The Christkindl market, with its unique vendors, food and entertainment, took over Kitchener City Hall for the 16th year, attracting hundreds of visitors from all over southwestern Ontario.

For Joerg Schwock, a Toronto resident, making the trip to the region each year during the four-day market has become a family tradition.

Christkindl is a reminder of home for Schwock, who is originally from Germany.

“When I moved here I was looking for a Christmas market and Kitchener was the best market we could find,” Schwock said.

The event also gives is family — his partner Nhu-an Pham and their children Anke, 4, and Paul, 2, — the opportunity to get into the holiday spirit.

Gisel Stickling, senior owner of Stickling’s Bakery, said the market is a chance to share her German heritage with younger generations.

Stickling was one of more than 70 vendors who took part in the four-day market, attracting many people looking for unique gifts for the holidays.

“It’s fun going to the different booths and picking things up for Christmas,” said Lynda Weatherdon, who was shopping with her daughter Lindsay Moffatt.

More than 20 acts, from musicians to dancers, entertained visitors at the market. Traditional Christkindl characters from Christkindl — the “Christ Child” — to Organ Grinder Klaus and Knecht Ruprecht also greeted visitors.

There was plenty for children at to do the market, from watching the model railway display and taking part in Rona workshops.

Standing by the railway display, Guelph’s Horst Donner said his children, Eric and Alex, love all the events at the market.

“I could put it under my bed,” said Eric, hoping to get a similar room-sized train set this Christmas.

For young and old visiting the market, Christkindl marked the beginning of the Christmas season.


Thursday Dec 6, 2012, The Record wsouth@therecord.com

Christkindl Market keeps them coming back

KITCHENER — Kitchener’s annual Christkindl Market opens this Thursday at Kitchener City Hall.

Over 30,000 visitors attend the market each year, some from as far away as the U.S, says Astrid Braun, president of the volunteer organizing committee. “It’s a wonderful free event for the whole family,” she said. “It’s warm, it’s a feel good thing, and there’s something for everyone.”

Braun added that she enjoys seeing families and friends coming together for the event, often visiting several times throughout the weekend.

Thursday’s opening ceremonies will kick off with a candlelight procession at 5:30 p.m. Visitors are asked to meet at the clock tower in Victoria Park where they will be joined for a singalong with the Grand Philharmonic Choir before proceeding up Gaukel Street to Kitchener City Hall, Civic Square.

Playing host to more than 70 vendors, the market takes over most of city hall each Christmas, offering everything from food to a variety of crafts, candles and more.

Braun said the market often attracts new vendors, but there is always room made for the booths that choose to return year after year, ensuring that visitors can always count on finding their favourites.

This year organizers hope to raise their goal of $5,000 for the Children’s Wish Foundation. Guests are encouraged to make a donation and fill out a ballot to win a trip for two to Germany, a $2,000 Via Rail travel credit, or an overnight stay at the Walper Hotel.

A German tradition dating as far back as 1310, Christmas markets called Nikolausdult, were seen as a chance for local farmers to come to town, shop and barter their goods.

Renamed Christkindl, meaning Christ Child, in the 16th century, the Protestant areas of Bavaria were the first to introduce the Christkindlmarkt. Brought to Kitchener in 1996 by founder Tony Bermeier, the market was originally intended to help bring business to downtown.

Christkindl Market, Kitchener City Hall – 2012 HOURS:
Thursday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m
Sunday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free. Parking is free Saturday and Sunday in all City of Kitchener surface lots and parking garages.


Fri. Nov. 30, 2012, The Record
By Vinnie Buchanan, a Kitchener writer of "Out For The Day" column.

"Christkindl Market is an annual event at Kitchener City Hall (this year from Thursday Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 9) and a chance to experience traditional aspects of a German Christmas.

This year’s event will get underway with a candle and lantern procession to city hall from nearby Victoria Park. Singers from the Grand Philharmonic Choir will first lead a carol sing beside the old city hall tower in the park, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 6. The walk to city hall, about two blocks away, begins at 6 p.m. Candles will be available for anyone wishing to join the procession.

At city hall, the opening ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a fanfare by the Transylvania Hofbrau Band and the Hallelujah Chorus, sung by members of the Grand Philharmonic Choir). Then, after the Christkindl (Christ child) speaks to the twin angels, the Christmas lights are lit and the market itself begins. Just as in olden days in Germany (the tradition began in the 1300s) vendors bring their goods to the city and city folk socialize and shop for goodies and gift items.

The Christkindl Market was launched in 1996 and since then has become a bigger and more elaborate event. Busloads of visitors from other parts of the province and from the United States come to enjoy the entertainment and food. This year there will be more than 20 bands and choirs performing over the weekend, as well as many dancers.

Klaus the organ grinder strolls through the crowd, and there is a living nativity scene with two donkeys. Blacksmiths demonstrate their craft on the civic square in front of city hall, surrounded by huts with food vendors — sausages of many types, packaged or to eat right away, herring on a bun, hot mulled wine, funnel cakes, candy, cider and pulled pork — so that all their wonderful smells are mingling. Christmas baking, from stollen to gingerbread, are available.

For the children of all ages, the Conestoga room is full of Garden-scale model trains. For the two- to eight-year-old set, there is a “Kinderrecke,” a craft centre where they can make a tree ornament or another wooden object.

There are even prizes to be won by visitors. For a donation to the Children’s Wish Foundation, visitors are eligible to win a trip for two to Germany, or a $2,000 voucher from Via Rail."


(from 2011)

Christkindl Market continues today   Peter Lee, The Record staff

KITCHENER - There is still time left to do some early Christmas shopping at Kitchener's Christkindl Market. The annual event, celebrating its 15th year, wraps up at 4 p.m. today (Sunday) at Kitchener City Hall, where it fills the inside rotunda and overflows onto the courtyard fronting King Street. Over four days, vendors and their booths typically draw 35,000-45,000. Christkindl - meaning "Christ child" - traces its roots to 14th-century Bavaria. Temporary markets would pop up in front of churches at this time of year. 

CHRISTKINDL Dressed as angels, sisters (from left) Megan, 13, Liz, 15, and Chrissy Schmidt, 13, stroll though the Christkindl Market at Kitchener City Hall. The four-day event closes Sunday at 4 p.m.

Festivals celebrate Christmas of olde

ONE TANK TRIP, By JIM FOX, Special to QMI Agency  November 26, 2011

It's the season for some "Old-World" holiday traditions -- Christmas markets... downtown Kitchener is the place for a festival of German Christmas.

Markets have been part of the festive time for centuries in Germany, with the oldest recorded in 1310 in Munich. As the custom of giving gifts at Christmas grew so did the development of Christkindl markets. They became a popular place for the sale of children's toys, gift items and seasonal food specialties...

Everything's wunderbar

Reflecting Kitchener's German heritage, Christkindl Market is the centuries-old seasonal tradition that's a feast for the eyes, ears and appetites.

And, perhaps for some, the biggest news is that apple fritters -- those apple rings battered with a hint of nutmeg, deep fried and dusted with confectioners' sugar -- are back, said publicist Monica Reid.

Other treats are German sausages, lebkucken (spice cake) and steaming mugs of gluhwein (mulled wine).

The 15th annual event from Dec. 1 through Dec. 4 outside and inside Kitchener City Hall attracts about 35,000 visitors.

"Christkindl magically transports the visitor to another country where Christmas celebrations are revered and perpetuated since the 14th century," said festival president Astrid Braun.

There are more than 70 food and gift vendors, a live nativity scene, model railway displays, visits with Christkindl (the Santa figure), angels, Knecht Ruprecht, a companion of Saint Nicholas, and Klaus, the organ grinder.

Along with numerous choirs, bands, dancers and blacksmith demonstrations, there is skating on the city hall's rink.

Hours are Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday (Dec. 3) 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday (Dec. 4) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.christkindl.ca; (519) 741-2387

Christkindl Market maintains tradition...

By Valerie Hill, Record staff  - Thursday December 1, 2011

KITCHENER - 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 15th 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.

By the 16th century, the name of such Christmas markets was changed to Christkindl, meaning Christ Child, the gift giver, but the basic premise is the same.

In Kitchener, the Christkindl Market was established in 1996 as a way to draw people into the downtown core, and it appears to have succeeded. Every year, between 35,000 and 40,000 visitors from around the province and from as far away as the U.S. come by the busload to experience a unique Christmas event, said Astrid Braun, president of the volunteer organizing committee. With 15 years under their belt, the well-honed committee meets half a dozen times a year, assisted by Kitchener city staff.

Braun said people often ask how the festival has grown, and what's new, but Christkindl is not about development. "It's about tradition," she said. "That's what people are looking for."

The market features an average of 70 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.

Braun said they have a "basic stable of returning vendors," though there is always someone eagerly waiting in the wings to replace vendors who either move on or retire, and the selection committee is careful to ensure there are no duplicates. "You don't want too much of the same product," she said.

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.

Braun also noted a market highlight has always been the entertainment on the outdoor stage, and she's particularly thrilled to have recruited four Swiss alpenhorn players who are, by day, farmers near Moorefield. The long alpenhorns are often the subject of romantic stories of life in the Swiss Alps and in Canada, they are most uncommon.

Entertainment will include 27 choirs, bands, dancers and musicians. As well, there is a draw for a trip to Germany for two, with proceeds donated to the Children's Wish Foundation.

Christkindl Market opens to the public Thursday at 10 a.m. and around 5:20 there will be a gathering at the clock tower in Victoria Park with the Grand Philharmonic Choir and the official lighting of Victoria Park, followed by a candlelit procession to city hall while everyone sings Christmas carols.

The official opening takes place at 6:30 p.m. with the Grand Philharmonic Choir standing on the city hall balcony singing the Hallelujah Chorus. It's all very moving, and very traditional.  See original article in The Record - -  vhill@therecord.com

Christkindl Market, Kitchener City Hall - 2011  HOURS
Thursday, Dec. 1 and Friday, Dec. 2,     10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3,     9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4,     10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Entrance is free and parking at city hall is free on Saturday and Sunday

 

Snow helps festival enjoy biggest year yet

christkindl with kids(edited from) GREG MERCER, RECORD STAFF - KITCHENER

...Organizers of the Christkindl Market, in its 11th year as a traditional German Christmas bazaar, think the five-day event drew more than 35,000 people.

"I'd say it's a record year," said Astrid Braun, president of the festival committee... The festival, which included a dozen new vendors as well as German musical acts and dancers, also hauled in more than $4,000 for the Children's Wish Foundation.

Marketing manager Monica Reid said a new website and e-mail campaign spread the word about the festival, which drew bus tours from the U.S., and visitors from Europe. Crowds were so good the market may keep longer evening hours next year.

For the partially outdoor market, the weather couldn't have been much better, Reid said. Early snow helped set the Christkindl mood, and it was cool but not frigid -- an inviting temperature for skating or sipping a cup of hot apple cider.

knecht ruprecht"Last year was the 10th anniversary, and we thought we couldn't top that," said Debbie Wurm, who sold baked goods from her Grainharvest Breadhouse. "But this was even bigger..."

  

Christkindling Joy and Goodwill

Story by Susan Deefholts
Photos courtesy of Jan Pisarczyk of Pirak Studio
Reprinted from travellingtales.com

As my husband and I hurry through Kitchener's Victoria Park, I breathe in the crisp smell of winter. The bare branches of the trees and bushes are festooned with cheery lights that glow against the new-fallen snow. We cross the footbridge with its string of festive lights that glimmer in the fast-flowing stream below. On the little island - which in the summer is host to picnics and musical afternoons - small stalls sell brightly-patterned paper lanterns, and candles in special plastic cups that will shield their flames from the winter winds.

The place is already thronged with people. There are children of all ages, parents, grandparents, and couples - all smiling and chattering as they hold their glowing candles in gloved hands and wait for the magic to begin.

Kitchener - which was once named Berlin - is steeped in German culture. The Christmas Market provides locals and visitors alike with a delightful alternative to the packed, sterile malls, with their piped in music and harried shoppers.

In Germany, this joyous custom dates back to the Middle Ages. Though there are different regional names for them - Weinachtsmarkt in the north, and Kristkindlmarkt in the south - they remain a beloved tradition in cities and towns across the country.

As we join the crowd today, bearing flickering candles of our own, I am glad of the layers I have worn - long johns, undershirt, sweater and down-filled jacket, my hands encased in cosy mittens. The cold is penetrating, but easily forgotten when I see the wide-eyed excitement of the children and the welcoming smiles and camaraderie of those around me.

And then the walk begins - a shimmering, candle-lit trek. We are led by Mary, Joseph and their stalwart donkey, through the snowy canopy of Victoria Park, and along the city streets, which have been closed off for the occasion. Music sheets are handed out and the singing begins, our breaths puffing in front of us with each note. Those who are particularly daring sing the German verses as well.

As we approach Kitchener City Hall, we can see that they have been waiting for us: a large stage dominates one end of the space, while all around, forming a convivial square, are stalls offering warm treats like potato pancakes and apple fritters. The smells waft towards us as we draw near.

trains tiny townThe summertime fountain is now an ice rink where young children linger near the edges, watching their older siblings show off in the centre.

As the crowd files into the square, the opening ceremonies begin: songs, speeches and performances. And then the Christmas lights decorating the building, the Christmas tree and the square are turned on to cheers and exclamations of delight. The Christkindl Market has officially opened!

My husband and I love coming to the market - it's a personal tradition that helps us get into the festive spirit each year. It's no surprise to me that it has garnered such diverse awards as "Best New Festival 1999" by Festivals and Events Ontario and "Top 10 Events in Ontario," in the course of its decade-long history.

Nor is the opening night the only time when visitors can sample the wares. There is Early Bird shopping on Wednesday. Thursday is the Candlelight Procession and opening ceremonies. The festivities continue all the way through the weekend, with a packed lineup of singers, dancers, and even bellringers.

And yet, the Thursday night is special - and so, while my husband lines up for wurst and sauerkraut, I make the most of my time, browsing through the fascinating stalls inside the vast foyer of the city hall, and defrosting a little in the process!

It's a great way to buy truly unique gifts for everyone on my list. I select a hand-crafted necklace from one stall, while a nearby toddler watches in fascination as a toymaker demonstrates the intricate mechanisms of his wares-carved wooden figurines that evoke days long past. A few moments later, I know exactly how the toddler feels, as I find a table of Fabergé-style eggs, each gilt-encrusted orb concealing its own little wonder.

People linger to examine German CDs and DVDs, beeswax candles and hand-made soaps. The stall that sells Dirndls and Lederhosen draws the attention of those who really want to get into the spirit of things by donning the traditional Bavarian garments for special occasions.

Between the brisk winter walk and my ever-growing array of purchases, I soon find that I've built up quite an appetite.

With a regretful glance at candy applethe stairs leading to a second floor of stalls, I pull on my mittens and slip outside to join my husband as he lines up for some fresh, hot apple fritters and mulled, spiced glühwein - a special treat to warm even the most chilled of hearts with that special Christmas feeling.

An elderly woman and her grandson stand nearby, watching the festivities. As the line moves forward, I overhear her exclaiming in her strong accent, "I can't believe it! It's like I'm back in the town where I was a little girl - just around your age!"

Her expression is lively as she speaks, her smile wide. The little boy grins up at her, and for a moment they are perfectly alike in their bright-eyed wonder.

Above us, the Christmas tree sparkles with lights. Oh Tannenbaum indeed!

This week Traveling Tales welcomes Susan Deefholts, a freelance travel writer who lives in Ontario, Canada..

About the photos:
1: One of the many entertainers during the Christkindl Market.
2: Storyteller Knecht Ruprecht captures the attention of his audience.
3: A youthful visitor points out a feature of the model railway village.  

Christkindling Joy and Goodwill, (Click for PDF) Story by Susan Deefholts

  

‘Tis the Season

German Life Magazine: December 2006 by Krista Scarlett
Savor sights, sounds, and spirit of a traditional German Christkindlmarkt a bit closer to home.

The view from Germany's Christkindlmärtke is enough to put even the grouchiest Scrooge in the Christmas spirit and warm anyone's heart, despite the cold temperatures outside. The extravagant lighting and the dazzling Christmas ornaments from the outside stands could brighten the darkest of winter skies and the scents from the delectable foods and treats inside can be smelled from miles away.

Every Christmas season, the memorable scents and sights of Christkindlmärtke draw in thousands of visitors. What once began centuries ago to signal the beginning of Advent season, in which traders would sell their goods in preparation for the cold winter days ahead, has grown into elaborate celebrations and anticipated traditions in many German communities.

Today, while maintaining the same focus, the markets have grown dramatically. They have become meeting grounds for locals to market their homemade Christmas decorations and treats while celebrating the joyous season with friends and family.

These German markets have even become so popular as to cross seas. Three towns across North America - Akron, Ohio; Kitchener, Ontario, Canada; and Denver, Colorado - have introduced their towns to this market, making this German tradition a local town favorite during the holiday season.

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
In 1996, Tony Bergmeier brought this German tradition of Christkindlmarkt to Kitchener, Ontario, making Kitchener the location for Canada's original Christkindlmarkt. Since then, the market has been so successful as to win such awards as "Best New Festival 1999" by Festivals and Events Ontario and "Top 10 Events in Ontario."

This year, Kitchener will celebrate its fourteenth annual market from December 2nd to the 5th. The celebrations begin with the candlelight procession and the opening ceremonies December 2nd at City Hall with the official lighting of the Christmas tree, as well as performances from the Hallelujah Chorus and Grand Philharmonic Choir. Every day visitors can enjoy live brass and gospel music as well as various German dancers and singers, a live nativity scene, and Kinderecke - a children's craft and pottery center. The market also holds over seventy vendors selling tasty treats, antiques, decorations, candles, coffees, toys, and ornaments. With so much variety, there is something for everyone. The market concludes December 9 at City Hall with closing remarks and raffles.

 

Kitchener revives tradition

By Jim Fox -- Special to the Sun -- Thursday December 7, 2006

An organ grinder entertains at Kitchener's Christkindl Market.

A centuries-old seasonal tradition that's a feast for the eyes, ears and appetite is re-enacted annually when Kitchener's downtown is turned into a festive German marketplace.

Reflecting the area's German roots, the Christkindl Market is a free event that will "magically transport the visitor to another country where Christmas celebrations are revered and perpetuated since the 14th century," said president Astrid Braun.

The five-day event starts today and runs through Sunday, Dec. 10, outside and inside Kitchener City Hall.

Christmas markets have been part of this festive time for centuries in Germany. They were usually held in front of churches, with the oldest recorded one being in 1310 in Munich.

In 1994, Christkindl Market was brought to Kitchener by Tony Bergmeier and today it attracts more than 35,000 people from across North America.


"It's an opportunity to experience the holiday spirit with vendors who entice you to buy traditional baked goods, chocolates, meat products, hand-carved gift items, woven blankets, cuckoo clocks and ornaments to treasure and keep forever," Braun said.

Entertainment includes choirs, bell ringers, bands, dancers and puppet shows. Featured are the 120 members of the Grand Philharmonic Choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

'SUCCULENT' FOODS

Add to that "succulent" foods such as German sausages, lebkucken (spice cake) and steaming mugs of gluhwein (mulled wine).

City hall is decorated for the season while inside 70 vendors offer handcrafted and traditional gifts, ornaments, toys, jewelry, florals, ceramics, stained glass and carvings.

There's a live nativity scene, films, children's crafts and pottery centre.

Other displays include blacksmith demonstrations, a crank organ and model railway display with Christmas scene. Cards and letters mailed at the festival will bear a special Christkindl postmark.

The old market tradition provided an opportunity for farmers to come to town, do some shopping and, at the same time, offer their wares.

As the custom of giving gifts at Christmas grew so did the development of Christkindl markets. They became a popular place for the sale of children's toys, gift items and seasonal food specialties.

Kitchener is a fitting location for the festival as the city was founded by German-speaking Mennonites more than 200 years ago.

The fest in Kitchener, a city known until 1916 as Berlin, is Canada's original.

It opens today 4 p.m.-8 p.m. for preview "early-bird" shopping.

Tomorrow is the official opening and includes a nighttime procession to city hall from St. Mary's Church at 6 p.m. with crowds of people carrying candles.

"Mary" and "Joseph" lead the procession and, in the spirit of the original Christkindl Market in Germany, church bells ring and trumpets sound en route to a manger where they spend the evening.

The ceremonies include the dramatic lighting of 1,500 twinkling bulbs on the city hall plaza where there's an outdoor skating rink.

There is also a draw for a trip for two to Stuttgart, Germany, and two Miele vacuum cleaners.

After today's preview, the market is open Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. -5 p.m.

The Kitchener city hall is at 200 King St. W. Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday in outdoor city lots and three parking garages (City Hall, Duke/Ontario Sts. and Kitchener Market). For more, contact 519-741-2387 or christkindlcanada.com  This story was posted on Thu, December 7, 2006
German Life Magazine, (click for PDF) December 2006 Issue

ONE-TANK TRIPS: Christkindl market reflects German roots

Jim Fox, Special to The London Free Press
December 2, 2006

A centuries-old seasonal tradition that's a feast for the eyes, ears and appetite is re-enacted annually when Kitchener's downtown is turned into a festive German marketplace.

Reflecting the area's German roots, the Christkindl Market is a free event that will "magically transport the visitor to another country where Christmas celebrations are revered and perpetuated since the 14th century," said president Astrid Braun.

The five-day event runs from Dec.6 though Dec. 10 outside and inside Kitchener city hall.

Christmas markets have been part of this festive time for centuries in Germany. They were usually held in front of churches, with the oldest one recorded in 1310 in Munich.

In 1994, Christkindl Market was brought to Kitchener by Tony Bergmeier and today it attracts more than 35,000 people from across North America.

"It's an opportunity to experience the holiday spirit with vendors who entice you to buy traditional baked goods, chocolates, meat products, hand-carved gift items, woven blankets, cuckoo clocks and ornaments to treasure and keep forever," Braun said.

Entertainment includes choirs, bell-ringers, bands, dancers and puppet shows. Featured are the 120 members of the Grand Philharmonic Choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Add to that succulent foods such as German sausages, lebkucken (spice cake) and steaming mugs of gluhwein (mulled wine).

Inside city hall, which is decorated for the season, 70 vendors will offer handcrafted and traditional gifts, ornaments, toys, jewelry, florals, ceramics, stained glass and carvings.

There's a live nativity scene, films, children's crafts and a pottery centre.

Other displays include blacksmith demonstrations, a crank organ and a model railway display with Christmas scene.

Cards and letters mailed at the festival will bear a special Christkindl postmark.

The old market tradition provided an opportunity for farmers to come to town, do some shopping and, at the same time, offer their wares.

As the custom of giving gifts grew, so did the development of Christkindl markets. They became a popular place for the sale of toys and other presents for children and for crafts, gift items and seasonal food specialties.

Kitchener is a fitting location for the festival as the city was founded by German-speaking Mennonites more than 200 years ago. The fest in Kitchener, a city known until 1916 as Berlin, is Canada's original.

Dec. 2 is the official opening and includes a nighttime procession to city hall from St. Mary's Church at 6 p.m. with crowds of people carrying candles.

"Mary" and "Joseph" lead the procession and, in the spirit of the original Christkindl Market in Germany, church bells will ring and trumpets sound en route to a manger where they spend the evening.

The ceremonies include the dramatic lighting of 1,500 twinkling bulbs on the city hall plaza where there's an outdoor skating rink.

There is also a draw for a trip for two to Stuttgart, Germany, and two Miele vacuum cleaners.

---

IF YOU GO KITCHENER'S CHRISTKINDL MARKET Location: Kitchener city hall, 200 King St. W.

Directions: Take Highway 401 east from London (west from Toronto) to Exit 278B (Highway 8), which becomes King Street, then turn right on Young Street.

Parking: Free on Saturdays and Sundays in City of Kitchener surface lots and three parking garages (City Hall, Duke/Ontario Streets and Kitchener Market).  Details: 1-519-741-2387.

Jim Fox is a freelance writer based in Kitchener, Ont.
WEB: www.christkindlcanada.com E-MAIL: info@christkindlcanada.com E-MAIL: onetanktrips@netscape.net

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