Black Friday is red, green and gold in Excelsior, Minn.
The Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt kicks off the holiday shopping season with parades, music and an outdoor Christmas market on Thanksgiving weekend and the first weekend in December. The shops and businesses of the city center are decorated and customers line the street for the grand parade.
Although the festival’s backdrop is the Excelsior Bay of Lake Minnetonka and not the Alps, Christkindlsmarkt carries a defined Bavarian touch with Christmas traditions such as German sausage and potatoes, strudel and ‘Gluehwein’. (a hot, sweet and spicy wine).
The market has a variety of stalls filled with handcrafted ornaments, wooden toys, vintage pieces, alpaca knitwear, and original artwork.
A family affair, Christkindlsmarkt offers a North Pole Trolley, Santa Claus, live reindeer and snacks with frozen princesses. The angelic Christkind and the sinister Krampus patrol the field.
Christkind is a German Christmas figure adorned with golden hair, angel wings, and a crown. She is the traditional bearer of Christmas gifts in several European countries and opened the Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt on Friday morning with a proclamation.
Krampus is a creature larger than a man. Covered in fur, Krampus has large exotic horns (sometimes as many as four or six) and hunts mountain passes in the Eastern Alpine Kingdom (in present-day Austria). In the history of Salzburg, Krampus was part of the pre-Christian traditions and represented the harshness and wild nature of winter. Around 700 AD, the creature was associated with Sankt Nikolaus. The tradition was banned by the Nazis; but in the 1960s, Krampus returned to popular culture.
Historically, it is believed that Christkindlsmarkt was established at Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany, in 1434. Striezelmarkt was a one-day market to provide the citizens of Dresden with meat for the Christmas meal after the pre-Christmas fasting period . Over time, the Christkindlsmarkt festival has spread across Europe. Eventually, each mid-sized city had its own market. In 1995, he finally crossed the ocean to Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. In 2005, an Excelsior resident visited the Chicago Christkindlmarket and suggested it to a committee of business owners and local residents.
Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt, a 501 (c) (3) all-volunteer, donation-focused nonprofit, manages and coordinates the festival to this day.