Christmas tradition in Alsace for half a millenium :
Christmas time is a good opportunity to discover the Alsatian traditions of the Advent and the Petite Année (‘s Kleinajohr), when the villages light up, when the decorations sparkle, when the nativity scene is set in the churches, when tales are told at wakes, when exhibitions, concerts and church celebrations are organized. Christmas is here plural: the markets become alive with gastronomy and intimate spirituality.
The Christmas markets :
Across Haut-Rhin and Bas Rhin, countless celebrations warm up whoever has remained a young-at-heart. Watch, listen, vibrate, taste and enjoy for when winter comes, mysterious and spellbinding Alsacian Christmas is brought back to life…
The Saint Nicolas market was replaced by the Christkindelsmärik (the market of the baby Jesus) in 1570, under the influence of Strasburger protestantism. Since the 16th century, the size and fame of the Alsatian Christmas market have increased with more treasures for the tree, more encounters while shopping, more marvels and feelings!
The medieval Christmas market of Ribeauvillé :
“Minstrel Town” offers a historically medieval market where togetherness, colours and originality rule. Jesters, troubadours, showmen, dancers, fire-eaters and strolling players come your way. You succumb to the delicious smell of roasted boars, of ales and wines wafted by a gentle wind. The streets and the squares are alive with shows and magical decorations. This is the warm-hearted atmosphere of a genuine and truly exotic medieval town!
The tree :
Since the Middle Ages, Alsatian trees have been adorned. This tradition was first reported in the Selestat Archives in 1521. The trees were then adorned with red apples and “bredele” (Alsatian biscuits). The trinkets (garlands, stars, etc) will appear much later, towards the end of the 19th century.
Christmas story :
Christmas traditions came from several countries: Germany and Alsace passed on the Advent calendar as well as the Christmas tree and its decorations; Ireland left us the old Gaelic custom of lighting up the windows; England gave us the Christmas card; and the USA popularized Santa Claus.