As the renovation to transform Dilworth Plaza into City Hall's green space continues, the annual pop-up shopping experience of The Christmas Village continues across the street in Love Park. Now in its fifth year, the German-styled Christmas Village has proven to be a popular draw and was visited by an estimated 400,000 people last year.
The famed Love Park, at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard in Center City, has been transformed into a traditional German Christmas Market featuring more than 60 vendors in festive wooden decorated booths and two large tents offering a range of international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry, high-quality arts and crafts as well as European and American food, drinks and sweets.
Last weekend, the village was officially opened by “Christkind” (pronounced Kristkint), a fairy-like being who brings the Christmas gifts to children. In Germany and other countries throughout the world, Christkind is more popular than Santa Claus. After opening speeches from City Representative Melanie Johnson and others, the Christkind will formally opened the Christmas Village in Philadelphia with her traditional prologue: “Look at the sight of this Old Town: High buildings rise — fortresses of modern times, look at this plaza — the many faces and in them shines: Philadelphia of the people.”
The history of Christmas markets in Germany has roots in the late Middle Ages. One of the most famous ones — and also one of the oldest ones — is held each year in Nuremberg in the state of Bavaria. It has been passed down from generation to generation that the farmers of the Nuremberg area started selling their crops in a farmers market during the Advent time in the mid-16th century.
The Christkind visiting Philadelphia this year is elected by a panel of judges and the people of Nuremburg every two years and is anointed as the “official” Christkind worldwide. She undertakes the huge responsibility of representing the Nuremberg Christmas Market, one of the largest such markets in the world, and also taking part in charitable events. Philadelphia will be Christkind’s last stop in the United States before returning to Germany.
Locally, the Christmas Village’s cozy atmosphere is decorated with thousands of lights and will also feature local musical performances every day until Christmas Eve. “We are proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Christmas Village in Philadelphia – a growing holiday tradition that recognizes, entertains and brings our neighbors together,” said Bob Cain, OneMain Financial District Manager.
Admission to the Christmas Village is free until December 24th. The Official City Christmas Tree Lighting will take place Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. at the Christmas Village at Love Park. For more information, visit www.philachristmas.com; and follow them on Twitter (@philachristmas) and Facebook (www. Facebook.com/christmasvillage.philadelphia).