Strasbourg Christmas Market: Humanitarian History

As Strasbourg celebrates its 27th year as the Capitale de Christmas, it upholds its centuries old status as a market town and is simultaneously developing and promoting the city’s humanistic values. This year from the 24th of November until the 30th of December, the festive season includes entry to the Twelve Days of Christmas or Twelvetide.

Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

This is a festive Christian season celebrating the nativity of Jesus Christ. In most western ecclésiastique traditions, Christmas Day is considered the “First Day of Christmas” and the Twelve Days are the 25th of December to the 5th of January. It is on this 6th day of January that many European traditions include the Feast of the Epiphany as the day to enjoy ‘la galette des rois’ – the cake of kings – and offer gifts.

Three Wise Men travel far

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, three wise men/ kings

Strasbourg hosts festivities during this period to include hundreds of events realised in the city’s churches, exposition halls and meeting rooms. The events offer opportunities to participate and honour the humanistic spirit of sharing in openness and generosity.

rain or shine market and events attract participants

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, albeit rain, market / events attract people

Guest Country

The Strasbourg Christmas Market this year hosts Iceland as a featured and honoured guest participant of the market. A dedicated square hosts a mini-market of featured products and specialties of the Icelandic Christmas tradition. Last year, Portugal was the featured guest.

God JulStrasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History Gledileg Jol, from Iceland

flavours of Christmas

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, flavours of Christmas


Christmas markets go back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking parts of Europe and many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that include eastern regions of France. The Christmas markets of Bautzen in eastern Saxony, Germany were first held in 1384. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434. Strasbourg Christmas market began with St Klausenmarket (Saint Nicholas Market) in early December and was held around the cathedral square.

Saint Nicholas

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History Klausen / Saint Nicholas

After becoming Protestant in 1570, the market was denounced as being papal, renamed the Christkindelsmärik (Market of the Christ Child), and held a few days before Christmas at the foot of the Cathedral. In 1830 it moved to Place Kleber and in 1870 to Place Broglie. Today, approximately 300 chalets occupy nearly every square in the historic city center. This year marks its 447th year!

traditional Christmas decor

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, traditional Christmas decor

In 12 B.C., the original core city of Strasbourg was occupied by a Roman camp called Argentoratum. The rue du Dôme and the rue des Juifs were the roads used by Caesar’s Legions.

quiet along the river

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, quiet along the river

In the Middle Ages, Strasbourg was free of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. The city yet evokes a harmonious presence that captures the intellectual effervescence of a great center of humanism and reform from the 16th century. Its every quarter of well-maintained heritage and its surviving renaissance buildings claim its rightful honours recognising the harmonious evolutions throughout dramatic changing periods.

Baccarat crystal lanterns

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, Baccarat crystal lanterns line the street

In 1988, Strasbourg celebrated its 2000 year anniversary and was classified as a world heritage by UNESCO. As world heritage includes all humans, Strasbourg is doing its part to encourage humanistic values such as sharing, openness and generosity.

ancient hand blown limited editions

Strasbourg Christmas Market, Humanitarian History, hand blown limited collector editions

This spirit, in the form of the Alsace Christmas Market, also is promoted as far away as Seoul, South Korea and has also reached Tokyo from 2009 – 2010, Moscow from 2012 – 2013, Beijing in 2015, and Taipei in 2016.

Word and appreciation are spreading as other capitals are applying to host the market to also perpetuate the humanistic spirit of sharing.

Please enjoy a moment of curiosity and follow the links to discover more information about Strasbourg and its rich history.

Happy Holidays and a bright beginning to the new year to all!