Interview with the Christkind
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
The Christkind is the traditional bringer of Christmas gifts in German-speaking countries and several other parts of Europe. She can be recognized by her gold and white robes, angelic wings, and a crown upon her golden locks.
How long has the Christkind represented the spirit of Christmas?
Christkind folklore dates back to the 1500s and stems from traditional customs like parades during the holiday season which were led by one “grand” angel. Traditionally, gifts are exchanged December 24th and delivered by the Christkind, who leaves them under the Christmas tree and disappears before the children can catch a glimpse of her.
What are some of the Christkind’s other duties?
The Christkind is part of the grand opening ceremonies of Christmas markets and festivities across Germany. At the market hosted by the German American Chamber of Commerce - Midwest (GACC) in Chicago she recites a prologue translated from the original German, to welcome visitors to the market. In past years, young and young at heart have had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with the Christkind as she roamed the market, sharing German holiday traditions. The Christkind is also part of the popular Kinder Club programming. In 2022 we will make virtual appearances during the Christkind Story Time, every Sunday at 2pm from November 20th – December 24th. People can watch the video in the GACC Christkindlmarket Gallery section of the website and learn more about German culture and customs.
How long has a Christkindlmarket been held in Chicago?
The Christkindlmarket Chicago was first conceptualized in 1995 when Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACC-Midwest, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services at GACC, were seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Mr. Lotter invited companies from Germany and the Chicago area to participate in the first Christkindlmarket in 1996. The Chicago event has expanded to additional locations including Milwaukee in 2018 and 2019 before COVID.
What are some other Christmas traditions, specifically in Hessen?
While temperatures drop and the hours of sunlight is reduced this time of year, the twinkling lights, carousel rides, and the scent of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine in the air at Hessen's Christmas markets ensure that the four weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with festive cheer.
Each Christmas market in Hessen has its own individual highlights but hand-made gifts, ceramics, wooden toys, and beeswax products are some local favorites. Specialty foods include crispy potato pancakes and sausages cooked on a swinging grill, gingerbread, baked apples, and steamed dumplings filled with plums. And what Christmas market could be complete without a mug of hot spiced mulled wine or fruit juice.
Some of the larger German cities host multiple Christmas markets. From castles to wineries, monasteries to riverboats, there are plenty of seasonal markets in unique locations, too. Here is a link to 15 of our favourite Christmas markets in Hessen (https://www.hessen-tourismus.de/en/das-ist-hessen/christmas-markets/).
What are some of the Wisconsin communities that host traditional German Christmas markets?
Wisconsin’s markets may not be as large or run as many days as in Germany, but there are multiple markets between now and Christmas. You can view an on-line list at https://christmasmarketguides.com/wisconsin-christmas-markets-fairs-opening-dates/ .
One of the largest is Oconomowoc’s which was held November 23-27, 2022. See more about Oconomowoc's festivities at https://germanchristmasmarket.org/.