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The student news site of Jones College Prep High School

Blueprint

The student news site of Jones College Prep High School

Blueprint

Chicago’s heart of the holidays

The top booths attracting visitors at Christkindlmarket
Photo+Credits%3A+Leilani+Freire
Photo Credits: Leilani Freire

With the sweet smell of Belgian hot chocolate and holiday spirit filling the air, Daley Plaza’s annual Christkindlmarkt has returned, attracting crowds of hungry visitors from around the city searching for traditional German food and holiday cheer.

Inspired by the festive 16th-century outdoor winter street markets in Germany, Chicago’s Christkindlmarket, located at Daley Plaza, has become one of the city’s main attractions during the holiday season. From Chicago locals to visiting tourists, friends and family gather to shop for traditional German foods, drinks, and hand-made souvenirs. 

“We come here every year because Christkindlmarket is perfect for when we want to get in the Christmas spirit,” said Frank Becker, a Chicago local who frequents the Christkindlemarket. “It’s also not the usual shopping market, so it’s fun to do something a little bit different for the holidays.”

At every corner, visitors are seen holding Christkindlmarket’s signature festive mugs, sipping hot chocolate from one of the market’s most popular booths: Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate.

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“The hot chocolate at Bob’s is great. We were talking to one of the vendors about getting some hot chocolate and they told us ‘Oh, well you got to go to Bob’s!’,” said Cathy Stuart, a Chicago local. “The price is a little high, but I don’t think it’s too out of line for downtown Chicago, plus you get to take a souvenir home.”

A vendor at Christkindlmarket since 2019, Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate is known to attract hordes of visitors searching for their authentic imported Belgium chocolate and signature homemade whipped cream, creating the perfect cup of hot chocolate.

“You just can’t get it anywhere else. Our ingredients are imported directly from Belgium, and we use two different types of chocolate, real milk, and real cream,” said Sergio Adriano, the booth manager of Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate. “You can try to replicate it with the same type of ingredients, but it’s never going to taste the same.”

At the small tables around Christkindlmarket, visitors often stand with a plate of Kartoffelpuffer (German potato pancakes) in hand from a vendor exclusive to Christkindlmarket: Traditional German Food.

“Our potato pancakes and meats make us stand out from the other booths since they’re both made with ingredients brought from Germany,” said Zena Klein, an employee at the Traditional German Food booth. “We’re from Germany and come during the market’s short time, so our business is only here during the Christmas time and only at Christkindlmarket.”

 At Christkindlmarket, craftsmanship is seen at every corner through its vendors’ unique handmade trinkets, from the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments sold by the Glass Ornaments booth to the hand-crafted animal figurines sold by Wooden Treasures.

“All the decorations are handcrafted, which I really appreciate. They’re all made by artisans and craftsmen, so whether you buy anything or not, it’s just beautiful to see,” said Martha Raymond, a Chicago local. “It’s not just machinery. This place celebrates craftsmanship which is a nice contrast to what we often see in America.”

While there are different variations of Christkindlmarket around the country, some believe Chicago’s is one of the most similar to Germany’s traditional markets. 

“I’m from Germany, but live in New York and am visiting Chicago. In New York, they have a form of fine arts style Christkindlmarket where you can buy artsy stuff, but it doesn’t have the German tradition like there is in Chicago’s market,” said Michael Koch, a German tourist visiting Chicago. “There’s something really special here.”

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Leilani Freire ‘24, Journalism III

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