If you can’t get to Germany this season, Germany will come to you in Chicago.
Those who know Chicago know that for one short month, in the shadows of the Magnificent Mile, a sliver of Daley Plaza turns into a decked-out European village marketplace. The song of Alpine jazz bands streams along the walks. Cuckoo clocks chime, beer steins clink, and ornaments and other folksy handmade décor is sold within candy-cane striped wooden huts. It’s Christkindlmarket time, the inspiration for which comes from the holiday markets of Nuremberg, Germany. Expectedly, you will hear vendors and visitors chatting in German—more than half traveling from that home country to bring the spirit of the holidays stateside.
Within the heated Grand Timber house, test your culinary German by ordering jugs of glühwein, currywurst, Swabian specialties, glücksschwein, and stollen. In English, mulled wine, Berlin sausage with ketchup, specialties from the southwest of Germany (roasted nuts!), marzipan pigs, and fruit bread with marzipan and nuts.
Continue a fairytale-like lesson in geography at the shopping huts. Within are items you won’t find elsewhere. Bells made from pewter, nesting dolls, papier-mâché lacquer boxes, German lace, and handblown glass are from places like Munich, Augsburg, Black Forest, Lauscha, and Dresden. Where are all these places anyway?
That’s kind of the point of Kinder Korner—your wee kinders will learn, via a parent-guided scavenger hunt, about Germany and its objects as well as meet the craftspersons. Christkind herself will glide in, a folklore figure, invented in the 1500s, dressed in gold and white robes with a crown upon her golden locks.
This is one of the largest holiday markets outside of Europe.