Cullman prepares for trial run of Christkindlmarkt outdoor Christmas Market

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A city crew assembles booths in the Festhalle for Saturday’s Christmas Market, to be held in conjunction with the Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . . in Germany! On Friday, Cullman’s record-setting (at least in the U.S.) Weihnachtspyramide (Christmas pyramid) on the grounds of the Cullman County Museum was joined by booths being assembled at the Festhalle which will, on Saturday, become the city’s first traditional German-style open-air Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas Market.

Christkindlmarkt?

A Christkindlmarkt (say “Krist[short “i”]-kin-dal-marked”) is a German street market whose origins date back to the 1500s in Dresden or Nuremberg, depending on which town’s citizens are telling the story.  The market features multiple booths staffed by townsfolk selling gifts, food and drink, and operates during the Advent season in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The opening of the market is often accompanied by live music, dancing and parades.

The name comes from the tradition of a visit to the market at its opening by the Christkind (Christ Child) portrayed by a local youngster. Today, the Christkind is usually represented by an adult female actor as more of a “spirit of Christmas” character.

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs got the idea for a Christmas Market in Cullman when he visited one in Chicago about three years ago.

“I thought we needed to do that here in Cullman to give our folks a chance to experience it, so we did some research on the ones in Germany, because that’s the origin of the Christkindlmarkt,” said Jacobs. “When the Christmas Pyramid was constructed, I thought, ‘This has to happen now!’ So, we’re starting small and growing into it.”

As a trial run, this year’s Christkindlmarkt will not have all the bells and whistles of its cousins back in the old country, but if this one goes well, Mayor Jacobs hopes to see the market grow and become a regular part of the city’s seasonal celebration.

Market vendors include:

Saturday’s schedule

  • Christkindlmarkt and Santa’s Workshop- noon at Cullman Festhalle
  • Free photos with Santa- 3 p.m.
  • Christmas Parade- 6 p.m., down First Avenue from the Busy Bee Cafe to Depot Park
  • Tree Lighting- 7 p.m. at Depot Park

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com