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In the 16th and 17th centuries in the mountainous areas of Germany and Austria, toymakers would gather in the villages in the weeks leading up to Christmas to sell their wares. In those days, the offerings would be hand-carved figures and ingenious puzzles, as well as the popular local dishes.  Many villages would use that time as a chance to get together and enjoy a little festival, since the work of harvest would usually be over and the cold winter would only just be beginning. For children it was a magical time, since many lived on isolated farms or in the villages themselves and did not often see what new wonders the toymakers had invented, or see what was new in the wider world. So the annual gatherings of toymakers were very popular, not to mention they were a major source of income for the villagers who would busily prepare the sausages, mulled wine, and baked goods for weeks in advance. From the end of November through Christmas Eve, beautifully decorated booths line the main square or "Platz" and the holiday spirit runs high, with crafts, entertainment, choirs, and wonderful food! The most popular and well-known market is the Nuernberg Christkindlmarkt which derives its name from the Christ-Child ("Christkindl" in the dialect of the area) which is carried through the streets by the children of the city in the toymakers parade, and placed in his manger on Christmas eve.

Tradition has it that the Christkindl was added to the parade some time after the toy fairs became popular destinations, when local clergymen became concerned that all the activities and commercial endeavors might drown out the manger story, and persuaded the businessmen to make the Nativity Scene at the main church in the village the destination for the procession of the children of the village at the end of the parade. Soon it became the practice for one lucky child to place the baby in the Manger.

Today, most major cities in Germany and Austria have Christkindlmarkts in one form or another, and over the centuries, Christkindlmarkt has spread to the United States, with famous markets in Chicago, Illinois, and Bethlehem and Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, that draw millions of visitors annually.

FRONT ROYAL's Christkindlmarkt ran from  2003 to 2013, was on hiatus from 2014 to 2016, and returns with fanfare in 2017!  We are proud of our little contribution to Front Royal's history!  We wish you a most joyous and blessed Holiday season!

Froehliche Weihnachten! Joyeuse Noel! Feliz Navidad!

- Steve & Maggie Sill, Event Coordinators

- Bob Skillman, Committee Chair