Not One but Two Christkindlmarkets! (Part 1)

With so much to say about Chicago’s not one but two Christkindl Markets, we are going to make this into two posts. The Christkindlmarket has officially opened in Daley Plaza, and as one of my favorite holiday activities in Chicago, I of course paid it a visit. We pass by it on our “Loop Interior Architecture Tour” and visit it on our annual “Holiday Tour of Drinks, Daleys and Dead Guys.” So I have watched it literally rise from the ground over the last few weeks with the installment of the kiosks, nativity scene, and Christmas tree (oops I mean “holiday tree” according to Rahm Emanuel). Chicago Quirk Blogger describes the scene well: “This market is so cute that I can’t decide whether I want to squeel like a little kid or throw up.”

This market, established with the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest in 1985, has become an annual festivity of primarily German vendors of holiday gifts and traditional German fare. Supported by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, the holiday market has challenges as a potentially religious event operating with the city. The Nativity Scene, a Christkindl Market tradition, had been in City Hall years ago, but the issue of separation of church and state was cited, prompting the move to Daley Plaza in 1996. And in 2006 the City almost pulled funding after the Market agreed to a $12,000 sponsorship by New Line Cinema, which was to release a nativity-focused film.

Somehow the “Christ” part of the Christkindlmarket doesn’t seem to create conflict with City Hall though! Wouldn’t you think that the “Christkindl” part of the word directly refers to Christmas? A little digging reveals that the Christkind is actually the fairy princess woman with literally golden locks pictured on the market’s banners and even a put-your-face-in-the-hole board. Martin Luther (think founder of Lutherist Church) asserted independence from the Catholic church with the creation of this spirt-like boy of the Christkind who would rival St. Nicholas as gift giver. Isn’t it great that in contemporary times ole Saint Nick and the Christkind are friends (see the picture here). In Nuremburg, a city located in the southern Bavarian region of Germany, the Christkind takes the form of this young woman who doles out gifts to well-behaved children. Our Christkindlmarket has distinct ties to this city, and thus we have adopted the Christkind for our Christkindlmarket.

You have until December 24 to pay this Christkindlmarket a visit, and I plan on paying plenty-a-visit with my gluhwein mug. This weekend though the more neighborhood-centered Christkindl Market of Lincoln Square has a shorter run. On Dec 2, 3, and 4, the three-day festival includes the standard German street food options like potato pancakes and brats, as well as lots of great activities for kids and performances by choirs and school bands. A free trolley will shuttle gluewhein-filled guests around the German American neighborhood for shopping attractions, like the historic Merz Apothecary, or other adventures, like a beer at the Brauhaus.  If you go, it’s fascinating (though not as cheery) to have a look at the large section of the Berlin wall located inside the Western Brown Line Station. While this holiday market doesn’t have the Nuremburg ties of the downtown Christkindlmarket, it uses the name as a place for getting the gifts to give!

Blog post Part “Zwei” will share insights on German food and tips on visiting the Daley Plaza Christkindlmarket, which also has a few events on its roster.

Amanda Scotese

–Executive Director


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

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Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


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With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
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Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

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Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
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