Since 1996, Chicago has hosted Christkindlmarket from Thanksgiving till December 24th at Daley Plaza. Traditional German gifts and foods are highlights that draw crowds from all over the world. Daley Plaza is also the home of Chicago's official Christmas Tree. This year, Chicago has done something it hasn't done since 1955: our 2009 Christmas tree is one large tree, cut from a local citizen's property. Since 1955, Chicago has traditionally cut down several smaller trees and stuck them all together for the look of a fuller, larger tree. But for budgetary reasons, I think the single tree concept is a great idea!
The Christkindl Market tradition started centuries ago in Nuremberg, Germany. The Christkind, or literally Christ Child, is represented as an angel dressed in white and gold. She is the gift bringer. Gift-giving began around this time of year in pre-Christian times. It continued as the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ child. December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, was traditionally the day children received gifts of nuts and fruits.
Martin Luther helped to spread the tradition of Christkindl throughout southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Northern Germany retained the tradition of Weinachtsmann (Santa Claus or St. Nick) as the bringer of gifts. Luther intended the Christkindl to represent the Christ child as a youthful angel. Women usually represent the angel today. She is often depicted holding a small evergreen tree.
Here are some photos of our Chicago Christmas tree and Christkindlmarket being set up this year.
Since Thanksgiving is the start of our Christmas season, I thought I'd share this "family tree" of Santa and the giftbringers of different nations. This was found on Rick Steves Europe site. Remember, you can view any of my images larger on my Flickr site!
Some interesting links: