The best holiday markets in the world
Holiday markets go back as far as 1434, when the Striezelmarkt opened in Dresden, Germany. Since then, cities all over the world have come up with their own variations on these popular markets. With the holidays fast approaching, a trip to a holiday market provides visitors with a memorable experience as they buy unique gifts for friends and loved ones. Here are five markets in the U.S. and Europe worth visiting this season.
The Christkindlmarket, created in 1996, is modeled after one in Nuremberg, Germany, that first opened in the 16th century. Items for sale at the market include hand-blown and painted ornaments, nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, collectible beer steins, toys for all ages, jewelry, clothes, home decor and wooden handicrafts. It also includes an appearance by the Christkind, an angelic figure with blonde hair and wings who gives gifts to children. The Christkindlmarket is in three locations: Chicago at Daley Plaza, Naperville and the Park at Wrigley, and it runs through December 24.
The Mile High City's Christkindl Market first opened in 2000. Located at Skyline Park at 16th St. Mall and Arapahoe St. downtown, the market features a stage where local performers play live music and dance. Craft vendors sell items, including nesting dolls, artisan jewelry, hand-knitted items, paper stars, and both hand-blown and hand-painted glass ornaments. Visitors can enjoy traditional German and Austrian foods, such as roasted nuts, chocolates, apple strudel and Bavarian pretzels along with German beer and traditional hot mulled glühwein. The market runs through December 23.
The capital of Germany's Bavarian region is also known around the world for its holiday markets. The best-known one is the Munich Christmas Market on Marienplatz, a centrally located square in the middle of the city that's been around since 1158. The 20,000 square-meter space is home to stalls that sell items including hand-painted glass ornaments, hand-crafted paper pictures and Christmas manger art. It sells popular holiday food items, such as fresh chestnuts, stollen, apple strudel, fruit cake and beer, as well as hot mulled and spiced glühwein served with an optional shot of peppermint schnapps. The market also features an Allgäu fir tree with more than 3,000 lights. The market is open through Christmas Eve (December 24).
Austria's capital is another place known for its Christmas markets located all around the city. One of the most popular is the Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz, located at City Hall Square. Visitors can shop at more than 150 booths selling everything from traditional and contemporary Christmas gifts and decorations to hand-knitted items. Booths also sell classic Viennese cuisine, including Sacher Tortes, hot mulled glühwein, vanilla kipferl crescent cookies and hot chestnuts. Vendors hold craft workshops and live choirs and trumpet groups perform every night. Visitors can also enjoy skating on a 3,000 square-foot ice rink. The market is open through December 26.
Created in 2004, the Downtown Holiday Market has become a must-see event in the nation's capital. Located on the F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery, the village is home to more than 150 regional artisans, crafters and boutiques offering ethically produced goods. The market has a rotation of 60 exhibitors each day offering gift items, such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and textiles. There's also seasonal entertainment and a myriad of holiday-themed food, drinks and treats. Check out the D.C. market through December 23.
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The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.
Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.
Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.
Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.
"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."
When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.
For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.
Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.
That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.
"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."
The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.
About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.
"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."
When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.
"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."
On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.
"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."
For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.