Merry Christkindlmarkt: Carmel continues German Christmas tradition as it opens its first Christkindlmarkt

Karen Zhang

Starting tomorrow, the smell of gingerbread, sweet roasted almonds, bratwurst and Glühwein will mix with the crisp cold air and winter in Carmel will never be the same.

According to Maria Murphy, CEO and Market Master, Carmel will host the first of what she hopes will be annual Christkindlmarkt, which starts tomorrow and lasts until to Dec. 24 in between the Palladium and Tarkington theaters.

Christkindlmarkt is the German name for the traditional Christmas market. These markets feature a mixture of holiday food, drinks, gifts and decorations. Initially, according to German teacher Angelika Becker, the market was about the craftspeople who sold their homemade goods.

“It was the basketweavers, the toymakers, the bakers, the glassblowers–they sold all their items and (the items) were geared towards Christmas,” Becker said. “They had the little huts and they also sold food, but very specific foods like roasted almonds and roasted chestnuts, and of course they would sell the hot mulled wine because it was cold in the winter.”

According to Becker, CHS German teachers have been promoting the event through various ways. There are several opportunities for part-time jobs and volunteering for German IV and German V students. The teachers have also promoted the essay contest which allows the chance to be the “Christkind,” which is the representative of the market. Traditionally, the Christkind starts the Christmas season by opening the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany.

Rahul Devathu, German IV student and junior, said he planned to volunteer at the market.

“In German IV, there’s a volunteering aspect and my teacher said this was a good opportunity,” Devathu said.

According to Murphy, the market will have a total of 40 vendors selling their goods. Out of those 40, most are local businesses. In addition, Murphy also said many of the items sold will be authentic German items.

“One of my main job responsibilities was to find authentic German products,” Murphy said via email. “There are a few items that are Germanic or European in nature but not actually German.  I believe that everything I have approved to be at the market you would see at a German Christmas market.”

Despite the excitement surrounding the event, many locals still have their reservations because of the amount of money being spent on the market, potentially stealing their revenue.

Murphy said, “I have been asked to bring an authentic Christkindlmarkt to Carmel and I am doing my utmost to do so. I know that the funding for what I have been hired to do has been controversial. It is my hope that once everyone visits the market they will understand why the funds were used in this way. I believe that value comes in many ways to the community.”

The potential disruption of local activities has also been concerning.

Murphy said, “I have gone to great lengths to be sure we are being respectful of the other venues in the Center Green area. I only want to add something to the guests before-show or after-show experience and make their time in Carmel that much more memorable.”

Devathu said he agrees. He said the market is a good investment especially culturally.

“(Christkindlmarkt) brings a new culture to Carmel and it brings something that we here don’t normally associate with Christmas,” Devathu said. “I also think (Christkindlmarkt) will make the people of Carmel more aware of different cultures but also make us more aware of the similarities between our lives.”

Becker said she believes the event will add to Carmel culturally as a city, especially in the arts and design district.

“The thing about the market is, and I hope that our Carmel market will be this way too, it’s just a center of the celebration. It’s just a fun way to get ready for the holidays regardless what you celebrate. It’s just a good way to find some peace, slow your life down. It is just fun having all these things – mulled wine, gingerbread, the little bratwurst – to enjoy with family.”