The first thing that catches the eye at the Baltimore Christmas Village is the 30-foot tall German Christmas pyramid. New this year, the pyramid houses a station on the bottom that sells various sorts of drinks. Each tier above is decorated in a fashion to resemble Christmas festivities. The very top has a propeller-like design and the entire structure is glammed out in lights. Many of the patrons gathered around this area, as it was also the spot for pictures. This entire structure is a nod to the traditional German Christmas pyramids.
Ranging from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, the Christmas Village in Baltimore is in its seventh year of providing a traditional German Christmas market to the public. Historically, German Christmas markets are held each year around Christmas time and the tradition first began in Nuremberg, Germany with the given name of Christkindlesmarkt.
Each year, on opening day, the Christmas Village has a ceremony for the Christkindl, the German equivalent of Santa Claus. While some Germans do believe in a Santa Claus figure, some only believe in the Christkind. The Christkind is a German woman with curly blonde hair, a gold crown, an off-white dress with gold stars and gold wing-like objects on her arms who represents a Christ-like angel figure.
Partway through the festivities on Nov. 30, the Christmas Village welcomed the Christkind to the Inner Harbor. As she strolled through the event, children and adults alike stopped to take pictures with her prior to her prologue recital. This prologue represents the commencement of a typical German Christmas market and has remained relatively the same for decades. She also cuts a red ribbon, to symbolize the initiation of the ceremony.
One of Christmas Village’s biggest attractions is a heated white tent which contains many of the gifts that patrons can purchase as they stroll through. One particular vendor, Sheila Crivelli, stands out as she holds her drill to customize the glasses that customers can purchase at her stand. Crivelli actually took the place of her twin sister, Sherri Crivelli, who owns the shop “Thru Sherri’s Eyes Studio.”
“Selling in this market is such an amazing experience. Shelli has an Etsy shop, so whenever she can get her store out in a physical space we’re all excited. Many people have come by, each of them so nice and full of Christmas spirit,” Crivelli stated.
Other vendors include Emily Renfor, who helps her former landlord sell chopstick creations, and Myroslava Semerey, who sells Ukranian creations, the owners of Piggyback Treats who make goodies for pets, among many more.
Further into the back of the tent, which is sectioned off from food and drink, is where Kathe Wohlfahrt is stationed. Kathe Wohlfahrt is known as the tent anchor as it is a huge German company and it sells all things Christmas, from ornaments to music boxes to Christmas trees.
The Christmas Village allows vendors like Crivelli, Renfor and Kathe Wohlfahrt to share their creations with all of the people that come through each day during the season.
The Christmas Village is also home to all sorts of food vendors, and the German Market may be the most notable upon arrival. Near the entrance stands a large grill with workers cooking all types of traditional German grilled food. The station was named quite simply but includes German translations of each of the menu items written in white lettering.
The German Market offers a red smoked sausage, which is stuffed into a bun that looks way too small. Combined with the Belgian Fries booth, and the Schnitzel Hut across the way, the Christmas Village offers a range of authentic and German-inspired cuisine.
On the other side of the outdoor area is a less traditional food vendor: a crepe booth. This food vendor comes back year after year, and the majority of the workers are deaf. They use a little bit of sign language to communicate with their customers, but mostly hold up colored cards to communicate when food is ready. The crepes they make are huge and the crepe makers are set at the front so that customers can watch as their food is being created.
The Christmas Village in Baltimore is a tradition for many families and has become a staple for the Baltimore community.
“It’s the most wonderful time of year on the Baltimore Waterfront,” Village Project Manager Nancy Schmalz said. “We can’t wait to celebrate with you, Baltimore and D.C.!”
This article was written by Jessica Bates, an intern for The Retriever. Bates currently attends Long Reach High School and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org