A free holiday event held each Christmas season
The idea was born in 2011 and the first Market took place in December 2014. The tradition of the Christmas Market dates back centuries and over the recent decades has transcended European borders to be embraced in different parts of the world.
Our mission was to bring this great tradition to St. Paul for all Minnesotans to experience. We’ve grown over the last few years from a 3-day event with twelve kiosks to a 12-day event with 60 kiosks and over 130,000 visitors. We look forward to continuing this centuries-old tradition and supporting local artisans and vendors. The Market has quickly become a beloved Holiday tradition in St. Paul.
The Market offers visitors unique and handcrafted items such as:
- Christmas ornaments
- Beeswax candles
- Decorative Glass
- Wool Mittens and Scarves
- Jewelry, and more
European Christmas Market’s Mission
- To foster and revive European arts and Europe’s shared cultural heritage
- Revive European cultural traditions in the United States
- Support local artists, artisanal products, and small businesses
- To educate the public about Europe’s culture and make it accessible, particularly via an authentic, charming, family-friendly holiday event in St. Paul, Minnesota, replicating the European seasonal Christmas markets that spring up each year before Christmas throughout Europe
2023 Board of Directors
- Renate Sharp, Founder and President – without her tireless work over the last decade this Market would not be what it was. She has invested countless hours to this mission of setting up a non-profit to bring the wonderful tradition of the Christmas Market to St Paul, MN.
- Claire Corvaisier, Vice President – Claire hails from France and, at her Oh Crêpe! kiosk, brings us the scrumptious traditional authentic galettes (buckwheat savory crêpes) and sweet crêpes. Besides she is an active, hardworking hands on board member.
- Christian Engelbrecht, Vice President – Christian is our numbers man par excellence. He also researched various Christmas markets and was active in preparing us for our launch in 2014. He now lives in Florida but tremendously assists us remotely and also flies in each year when the Market is in session.
- Lucy Egberg, Secretary – Lucy and her sister Jeni were among our first twelve vendors and have remained with us since then with their Roseberry Kids boutique. Lucy keeps our records, diligently records our meetings and helps out whenever with a big smile wherever she is needed. She professionally practices immigration law outside of her role with the Market.
- Ferdinand Peters, Treasurer – Ferd was so helpful in our years of pre-launch planning and instrumental in getting us off the ground. He has freely shared his good ideas about making the Market attractive and, with his law practice, he has diligently kept us well advised.
- Christine Burbach, Board Member – Christine keeps her eyes and ears open to keep us in the know. She also runs Burbach’s European Pancakes at the Market with her husband and offers more than just tasty pancakes.
- Nadine Schaefer, Executive Event Director – We welcome Nadine as our first Executive Director. Nadine comes to us with lots of experience and enthusiasm; she co-founded the Vancouver Christmas Market and single-handedly started and operated the Minneapolis Holiday Market at Peavey Plaza. Nadine has already shown her skill and hard work with our 2021 Market and we are so glad to have Nadine on board.
History & Traditions of European Christmas Markets
Experiencing a Christmas Market is one of the highlights of the holiday season!
Experiencing a Christmas Market is one of the highlights of the holiday season in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and in other European countries. These open-air festivals date back some seven centuries and the European Christmas Market (ECM) will revive this cultural tradition and bring its sights, sounds, and aromas to downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
Since the Middle Ages, towns in the German-speaking part of Europe have held Christmas Markets in their market squares. Dresden‘s Strietzelmarkt was first held in 1434. The Christmas markets of Bautzen (first held in 1384), Frankfurt (first mentioned in 1393) and Munich (1310) were even older.
The Vienna “December market” was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294, but it wasn’t so much a Christmas Market as a December Market at that point in time and became a Christmas market in later years.
The German name for a Christmas market often is “Christkindlmarkt” or “Weihnachtsmarkt”. The last name simply means “Christmas market” whereas the first name originates from the tale of the Christkind or Christchild. In many locales on opening nights, onlookers welcome the “Christkind“, or boy Jesus, that is acted out by a local child. In other towns, the Christkind is normally depicted in a white and gold robe with a crown atop her blond hair and angelic wings.
Depending on the region and family tradition, the Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas or Santa Claus) or the “Christkind” is the bearer of gifts for children on Christmas Eve; the Christkind even brings the Christmas tree. Children never see the Christkind in person, they even are told that Christkind will not come and bring presents if they are too curious and try to spot it.
The Christmas tree allegedly brought by the Christkind, is put up in the living room in secret by the parents, and the family enters for the opening of presents when the parents say that they think that the Christkind has left again. In some traditions, the departure is announced by the ringing of a small bell, which the parents pretend to have heard of which is secretly done by one of the adults in the family.
This tradition of the Christkindl is known among German-speaking countries such as:
- Czech Republic
- Scandinavian countries
These Christmas markets occur during Advent, which runs approximately from our Thanksgiving holiday through Christmas Eve. It is during that time that rustic timber booths draped with fragrant evergreen boughs line the town squares and it is here that vendors and artists sell items such as toys, blown-glass ornaments, cones of warm sugared almonds and steaming mugs of Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) to holiday shoppers, accompanied by traditional singing and dancing.
Experiencing a Christmas Market is one of the highlights of the Holiday season in these European countries. Minnesotans primarily are of Germanic and Scandinavian heritage which also holds true for the remaining four states in this five-state region, with Germans in Iowa accounting for some 35%, 40% in South Dakota, 44% in North Dakota, and 42% in Wisconsin, based on the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau Report.
Notwithstanding this large population base with Germanic roots, until recently there have been few Germanic arts and cultural offerings in the Minnesota area.
These European open-air Christmas festivals date back some seven centuries and ECM will revive this cultural tradition and bring its sights, sounds, and aromas to downtown Saint Paul.
ECM will address also the concern of some about the over-commercialization of Christmas and restore the cultural emphasis on family and friends. Also, something special is the Krampus and we encourage you to learn more about the Krampus tradition.
*This information was collected primarily from Wikipedia and attested to by German immigrants.