IF YOU’RE ALL ABOUT THE “TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS…”
For anyone dreaming of a white Christmas, Krakow most definitely delivers. The city's Christmas market, held in the mammoth central square, Rynek Glowny, typically gets a heavy dusting of snow during December, making a visit here even more magical. Makes a change from windy Edinburgh or rainy London, right?
Is it worth the hype? Yes! Really? Fa-la-la-la-la-absolutely!
Because what is so special about Krakow at Christmas, as opposed to any of the other festive markets across the world, is its focus on historical tradition over blind consumerism. In less fancy terminology, it’s essentially all about the friendly warmth and beauty of giving in the “true meaning of Christmas” kind of way. The pure joy in sharing the beautiful moments of festive cheer with countless visitors across the world is enough to put a delightful new twist on your usual consumeristic Christmas.
It’s a compact and quaint market with a rich history. Back in the day, Krakow traders would arrange their stalls on Christmas Eve to sell trees, decorations and ingredients for traditional Polish meals and delicacies. Fast-forward to today, the Christmas Market in Krakow provides an even greater variety of goods to visitors, from the last week of November until it closes on the 26th December, as tradition dictates.
The limited number of stalls gives the market a really intimate, welcoming feel. You might as well be a local to the city, you’ll think, as you wander at leisure to admire the little wonders sold displayed inside the wooden huts. The Market is like its own little wooden world, twinkling with golden lights as carols linger in the mulled wine scented air.
The abundance of colours and smells at Krakow’s Christmas Market means that you’ll struggle to rest your eyes on just one thing. You’ll want to touch, taste, smell and see it all! Like a small child, you’ll be pointing at different items and delicacies, each one quirkier and more unique than the last, wishing and wanting and wondering. From the finest examples of Polish pottery to woollen socks, hats and gloves perfect for the harsh Krakow winters, the innocent folksy feel to the Market’s festive fun is unbeatable.
The charismatic stallholders you will meet are also more than likely up for a bit of fun; they’re happy to barter and bargain with you, knowing that their items are special and that you more than likely won’t find anything like them elsewhere.
Be sure to catch the painstakingly crafted nativity scenes which feature the city’s beautiful Baroque and Gothic buildings. These are called Szopki. They are part of a long-standing tradition in Krakow originating from religious tradition. Born in the nineteenth century, the tradition has been passed down for generations, based on the skills and knowledge of ancestors. On the first Thursday of every December, makers gather on the square to present their work, and the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow makes their work accessible to the public from December to February, helping to transmit knowledge related to the practice in a festive, celebratory way.
When the festive season arrives, Krakow becomes a whimsical winter wonderland as its historic streets and houses get wrapped in the snow for visitors to enjoy. You can only imagine how wonderful the Market looks in this kind of setting. Stimulating all your senses, the Krakow Christmas Market is one that harkens to traditional custom and feel, ensuring that the “true meaning of Christmas” is at the very core of all things festive fun in one of Poland’s most beautiful cities.