With the beginning of December or even mid-way through November, cities around Europe, big and small begin to set up Christmas Markets in the center of town, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.  They are more popular in Germany and France, though. German immigrants brought this centuries- old tradition to the United States.  Today, many large cities like Chicago and New York City as well as smaller places like Helen, GA have their own markets.  

There are stalls selling ornaments and household decorations, holiday foods and drinks, candies as well as festive activities.  The areas are usually decorated with lights and a large Christmas tree in the center.  Each market is different and celebrates the cultural traditions of the Christmas season in their region.  That means different foods, drinks, decorations, and costumes to celebrate.  No two Christmas markets will be a like.  So grab a glass of mulled wine and start celebrating!   

1.Metz Christmas Market

Nestled in the northeastern corner of France, is Metz.  This is the second largest Christmas Market in France!  Unlike many other markets, Metz spreads the market over five different sections of the city.  The vendors sell underneath medieval houses, churches, and city squares.  Lit with lights, this market offers a dazzlingly way to visit and explore the city.

2. Prague Christmas Market

The main Christmas Market is held on Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, which are within a 5 min walking distance of each other.  The square is filled with little wooden huts that sell traditional and hand made ornaments, including glass, lace, and wood.   Try Czech favorites such as Pilsner Urquell, Staroplamen, or Budvar (all Czech beer).  Hungry? Taste the Trdelnik, a warm, sugar-coated pastry.


3. Saarbrücken Christmas Market

This Christmas Market is in the historic St. Johanner Square.  What is unique to this market is the 9 meter high hand crafted Christmas Pyramid.  There is bell tower and Alpine Hut as well as part of the decorations.  The popular drink here is the glühwën, also known as mulled wine.  Nibble on the popular potato pancakes with your mulled wine as you stroll through the vendors!   

4. Chicago Christmas Market

Going a little closer to home is the Chicago Christmas Market, one of the most well known in the United States.  This Christmas Market is a melting-pot of Christmas Markets with elements from Polish, German, Czech, French, and other markets.  There is also the Christkind, a fairly-like legend who is said to date back to Christmas traditions from the 1500s, that is part of the ceremonies and shares German Christmas stories and traditions.   

Whether you chose to travel abroad during December or decide to stay put, find a Christmas market near you! They are part of experiencing the Christmas Season in Europe and are great fun in general.  Who knows, you might find that perfect ornament for your tree!