The Nürnberg Christmas Market: Mother and daugther visit at the same age

Story and photo by Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

***image1***One of the memories I have when I was 8 years old is of the Nürnberg Christmas market or Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt and what I called “the raisin people” – that was more than 30 years ago.

My daughter is now 8 years old, and when the Nürnberg Christmas market opened last year, I thought it would be a fun family fact that she and I first visited Germany’s largest Christmas market at the same age.

And, boy did we ever have fun – the things we saw, the food we ate, the facts we learned and the people we met.

The market is crowded – a sea of people no matter where you look. Expect to be bumped and if you are too polite, you are not going anywhere. My German aunt tells me that no matter what time or day you go, it’s going to be crowded. It’s said that by Christmas Eve, when all the Christmas markets in Germany close, more than two million people will have visited the Nürnberg Christmas market. I think we were all there on the same day.

You will hear dozens of different languages – this is considered to be the most famous Christmas market in Germany and visitors come from all over the world.

There are rows and rows of about 180 wooden stalls, festooned with red-and-white cloth, giving this market its name of “Little Town from Wood and Cloth.” You can buy almost everything you need for Christmas – ornaments, decorations, lights, candles, gifts and traditional German articles such as the Stufenpyramide or step pyramid.

My memory almost served me well – the “raisin people” are actually called the Plum People or Prune Men and originate from the Nürnberg Christmas market. These favorite souvenirs are made out of prunes and come in all kinds of varieties, from Saint Nickolaus to a wife not happy about her husband drinking beer. As I was able to do during my first visit, my daughter was able to pick out her very own prune person.

Like all Christmas markets, most of the wares you can buy are handcrafted. In fact, my aunt says that’s why you go to these markets, to see all the crafts, not to shop or to eat.

She may have a point, but the shopping wasn’t bad, and ah, the eating was very good. I still have fond memories of the Kartoffelpuffer or potato pancake – I had mine with garlic sour cream.

We took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the entire market, singing songs. My daughter said this was her favorite part of the trip.

We went inside the Frauenkirche or “Church of Our Lady,” which offers a beautiful backdrop to the Christmas market. We got a tip from some vendors and went to the Schönerbrunnen, or beautiful cascade, to turn the gold ring and make a wish. The people were very friendly, which made dealing with the crowds bearable.

We made it to the Kinderweihnacht, which can easily be called a child’s dreamland. It showcases a steam-driven merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and train. There is a Christmas bakery, candle workshop and handcraft stalls. Children can even send letters to Santa Claus in the post office.

All in all, I have to say this was one of the best trips I’ve taken. I have a feeling that 30 years from now, my daughter is going to remember more than just the “raisin people.”