November 14, 2012
November 20-December 24, 2012
A Traditional German American Holiday Tradition
German students will travel to Chicago on Saturday, December 1, 2012 to experience the Christkindlmarket on location. This field trip has been organized by Dr. Alexandra Hagen, Visiting Assistant Professor of German and a native of Nuremberg, Germany.
History and Tradition
Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago. Chicago's largest open-air Christmas festival was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. Together with the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions in the heart of the city.
The Christkindlmarket Chicago is also the perfect place for teachers and professors of the German language to bring their students. Here, they have the opportunity to practice skills at the market with numerous German speaking vendors. Several educational activities for students visiting the market include: scavenger hunts, interviews with vendors, or even singing German holiday songs for all to enjoy. At the market, students get to experience authentic German traditions without having to travel any farther than the city of Chicago. From Kindergartners to graduate students the message is loud and clear: The Christkindlmarket is fun, fun, fun!
The name "Christkindlmarket" originates from the mythical tale of the Christkind (the name changes depending on regional provenance to the diminuitive like Christkindl, Christkindle, and Christkindel). She is a fairy-like being, dressed in a gold and white robe with a crown atop her golden locks. Depending on region and family tradition, either the "Christkind" (pronounced Kristkint) or the "Weihnachtsmann" (Father Christmas or better known as Santa Claus) will be the bearer of gifts.
The tradition of the Christkind is known among German-speaking countries including Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as in the Czech Republic, Italy, Liechtenstein, and even some South American countries.
The market has welcomed Nuremberg's former Christkind to the city of Chicago for the past thirteen winter holiday seasons. Every year, the Christkind, who serves as an official representative of the city of Nuremberg, opens the Chicago Christkindlmarket with her famous decree. Her participation in the Annual Grand Opening Ceremony has been a cherished tradition since 1997. The ceremony takes place on Daley Plaza on the first day of the Christkindlmarket after the official Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Johanna Heller, who was the Nuremberg Christkind between 2009 and 2010, is the official Christkind of the Christkindlmarket Chicago 2011-2012. Johanna was chosen to be the Christkind in Nuremberg on November 7th, 2009 by a jury when she was only 17-years old. Being the Christkind means for Johanna spreading the message of God.
Johanna was born in Lauf, a city near Nuremberg. Following in the footsteps of their parents, who are professional musicians, Johanna and her younger sisters are avid musicians. Not only does Johanna love to play piano or oboe in her free-time but she also wants to study music. Moreover, she likes dancing and skiing and is engaged in the church of Laufamholz.