Every December I’m always excited; that’s when the Christmas Market comes to town. Stalls selling pork shanks with dumplings, bratwurst and hot cherry wine – I’m in my element!
Then of course there’s the ferris wheel, shopping for all those lovely homemade gifts, and my favourite thing of all – the outdoor ice rink. ￼Here’s me and my son enjoying our favourite winter pass time.
So when I wrote a novel set in Austria, I couldn’t resist the temptation to include a scene from the Viennese Christmas Market.
The Christmas markets in Vienna are an age-old tradition. The forerunners of the present-day events date back to 1298 when Albrecht I granted Vienna’s citizens the privilege of holding a December Market or “Krippenmarkt” – not a Christmas market as such: the first Christmas market in Vienna wasn’t until 1626.
The first records of a Christmas market mentioned temporary huts in front of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, from which bakers, gingerbread vendors and confectioners sold their goods. This market was shut down in 1761.
The Christmas market was resurrected in 1764 when the Saint Nicholas and Christmas Market operated at the Freyung (1st District), moving to Am Hof in 1842.
In 1903, the stands at the market were illuminated by electricity for the first time. The Christmas market had a home at Am Hof until World War I, when it closed down, starting again in 1923.
The Christmas market was closed down during World War I and in he bleak post-war years didn’t start again until 1923, when it was moved to Freyung, and later to the front of St. Stephens. After that, it moved to Neubaugürtel before returning to Am Hof from 1938 to 1942.
In 1943 the market was once again held at Stephansplatz.
Since then, the character and prevalence of these markets has changed considerably.
The Birmingham Christmas Market remains one of my favourite winter nights out. Cheers!