During the last weekend of November, the IU South Bend German Club traveled to Chicago to take part in a unique and festive holiday extravaganza: The annual German-American Christmas festival aptly named Christkindlmarket. As president of the German Club this year, it brought me great joy to be able to provide students campus-wide with the opportunity to be exposed to German culture and a tradition that has an expansive history and is still immensely popular in Germany today. The main goal of this trip was to welcome students to come along with us to an off-campus event that not only strengthens the German Club and German program here at IU South Bend, but provides students with the opportunity to further internationalize their education with a long-standing German tradition made me, as a German major and the club president, happy to share my enthusiasm about German language, culture, and history.
Christmas markets in Germany have been a pre-holiday tradition starting as early as the 17th century. In fact, Christkindlmarket in Chicago models itself after one of the most famous and largest Christmas markets in Nuremberg, Germany! Spanning from late November up until Christmas day, Christkindlmarket Chicago attracts visitors right into the heart of the city, and there is certainly no shortage of traditional German Christmas food, gifts, and an overall cheerful Christmas atmosphere here.
With many vendors from both the United States and Germany, there are numerous booths in which you can satiate your appetite when visiting Christkindlmarket. The smell of pretzels, crepes, Döner, Schnitzel, bratwurst, strudel, roasted almonds, and many other traditional German foods can be detected blocks before you reach the market itself. Christkindlmarket in Chicago also provides visitors with being able to indulge in one famous and delicious German beverage traditionally served at Christmastime, the warmed and mulled Glühwein. But if the giant hanging gingerbread cookies and wall of German gummy bears don’t entice you enough, then the German trinkets and products are sure to grab your interest. Christmas ornaments from Käthe Wohlfahrt of America, advent calendars, cozy scarves and hats made from Alpaca, beer steins and boots, or even the beautifully handcrafted artisanal glass ornaments from Bavaria are just to name a few of all the expansive options for traditional German Christmas products available.
Overall, the German Club’s adventure to Chicago, whether it be catching the train as a group or being able to incorporate our experiences into our German education, was a priceless event that I could not have imagined being any more fulfilling at my last year here at IU South Bend. As the proud president of this club, I hope to see a legacy of education and excitement by making this trip to Christkindlmarket an annual event, open to not just the German Club, but to all students on campus. Off-campus events like this are what not only strengthen the German program on campus, but they help to deepen the connection of our bright students to their studies.