The Christmas Market past and present
180 years of the Christmas Market in Vienna
For almost 50 years, the Vienna Christmas Market has been lighting up the Rathausplatz each year. The market stallholders opened their Christmassy wooden huts here for the first time in 1975. But in reality, the Christmas Market has been around for much longer – even if it wasn’t always called that: from the year 1600, the “Thomas Market” was held at Vienna’s Graben square. This market was named after the Apostle Thomas, who was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. In 1772, the market relocated to Freyung square and was known as the “St Nicholas and Christmas market”. When this market was then moved to Am Hof square in 1842, it was given its present-day name of “Christkindlmarkt”. It’s fair to say, therefore, that the Vienna Christmas Market has been around for at least 180 years.
The Vienna Christmas Market today: presents galore, sensory indulgence and Christmas spirit
A lot has changed at the Vienna Christmas Market. The range of products on offer and the programme have been diversified. This means that today, Vienna’s Rathausplatz is home to more than just a Christmas market designed to impress with artisan handicraft, jewellery stalls and punch stands.
Christmas in the park
The Rathauspark surrounding the Christmas market also creates a wonderful Christmas atmosphere for young and old alike with its famous Heart Tree, a small but exquisite culinary offering and other traditional and fun attractions. Here, visitors will also come across a giant Advent wreath from the Evangelical Church. As to why it features more candles than usual? Back in 1839, in an attempt to shorten the time until Christmas for children from the poorest families, the founder of the Diakonie, Johann Hinrich Wichern, lit a candle every day on a cartwheel decorated with 20 small red candles and four large candles in the “Rauhes Haus” of the Diakonie in Hamburg. It is this idea that gave rise to what we have come to know today as the Advent wreath. By the way: since 2016, it’s also been possible to go for a spin around the park on ice skates: the Ice Dream at the Christmas Market brings winter and festive Christmas spirit to the city and the people, no matter the weather.