Germany Cancels World-famous Nuremberg Christmas Market for the First Time Since World War II

One of Germany’s oldest and most famous Christmas markets will not return this holiday season.

For the first time in 73 years, there will be a distinct lack of gemütlichkeit — the feeling of cozy cheeriness — in Franconia’s largest city this Christmas season.

With records dating back to 1628, the famed Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. For the four weeks of Advent, the city’s main market square is transformed into a village of wooden stalls adorned with red-and-white striped cloths, each one housing dozens of vendors offering unique handicrafts and something-for-everyone gifts. This much-anticipated event attracts two million visitors to Nuremberg annually, and for locals, the scent of grilled sausages, sweet roasted almonds, and mulled wine wafting through the city is an unmistakable hallmark of the season.

This December, however, will be very different. Nuremberg Mayor Marcus König has announced that the Christkindlesmarkt is canceled for 2020, due to rising COVID-19 infection rates.

“This decision is very difficult for us,” König said in a statement on Oct. 26, acknowledging the importance of the event’s tradition. “After much deliberation, and in order to protect the population, we have come to the conclusion that the Christmas market will not take place this year.”

Nuremberg’s Christmas Market
Florian Trykowski

City officials had been hopeful to move forward with the festivities — albeit under strict distancing and hygiene rules with the market dispersed across multiple areas of town — but eventually determined that doing so would send the wrong signal. “We cannot justify an additional gathering of many thousands of people in the city center,” said König.

The coronavirus pandemic has left little untouched in 2020, but this is the first time since World War II that the Nuremberg Christmas market has been canceled.

In the midst of the war, the Christkindlesmarkt was put on pause until 1948. Offering hope and cause for celebration in a city that was largely left destroyed, the revived Christmas revelry marked the start of a new chapter for Nuremberg, and the market has been enjoyed each year since.

While COVID-19 may have interrupted tradition for 2020, there’s global optimism for a brighter future — and with it, another historic Christmas market.

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