This past weekend, I attended the European inspired Christkindlmarkt in Fargo, North Dakota. It was filled with festive holiday spirit — music, makers, food, chocolate, drinks and more.

This kind of open-air Christmas market creates a jolly atmosphere for a community and helps bring neighbors together during the dreary winter months.

I studied in Italy for a time in college, and the Christmas markets in Europe were a total blast. I went to markets in Prague, Czech Republic and Florence, Italy, and the piazzas were covered in sparkling lights and the aromas of hot food filled the air. They were both festive occasions I’ll never forget.

I love that the charming spirit of European Christmas markets are growing in popularity here in the states.

This was the fifth year Fargo hosted a European-style Christmas market, but Christkindlmarkts have been going on for centuries.

The festive open-air holiday street markets actually date back to the Middle Ages. The first Christkindlmarkts in Germany date back to the 1300s. But, Vienna takes the cake, with a “December Market” being recorded as far back as 1298. Seasonal markets were held year round in Germany, but the Christmas markets were especially popular and joyous during the cold, dark winters.

Local tradesmen and vendors would give the markets unique individual flair, selling handmade goods and gifts. Locally made and produced brews and drinks were served along with homemade food.

The Christkindlmarkts typically operated during the Advent season, Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.

It has taken a long time for these charming markets and their twinkly lights and local goods to come to Minnesota. But, they’ve certainly caught on and now there are many European-style Christmas markets to enjoy throughout the region.

Fergus Falls will soon enjoy their Over the River Holiday Festival, Dalton has its Christmas Fest and Battle Lake will host its Home for the Holidays event. Though I might not be able to make it to every Christmas festival this year, I hope you are able enjoy a Chriskindlmarkt near you!

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