A brief history of Christmas markets

Festive markets have only become a fixture on the UK’s Christmas calendar in recent years but the tradition stretches back centuries

The forerunner of the Christmas market as we know it was Vienna’s December Market in the middle ages. It was first recorded in 1298, when citizens were granted permission to hold a Krippenmarkt during Advent. Open-air winter street markets were associated more specifically with Christmas in Germany, with the first Christkindlmarkt taking place a century later, in 1384. This was in the eastern hilltop town of Bautzen, Saxony. These early markets started by only selling meat but evolved to provide other everyday purchases, and eventually seasonal treats, decorations and crafts – accompanied by singing and dancing.

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