Our final pick for the penultimate day of The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is a bittersweet website recommendation for Chicago’s Virtual Christkindlemarket.

Mel and I first visited Christkindlmarket in 2015 over Thanksgiving, and we fell in love with the bustle, the glass ornaments and Germanic trinkets, plus the hot cocoa and apple cider and we also fell in love with the pretzels. There’s something about eating a hot pretzel (I get mine stuffed with spinach and feta) in 35 degree weather that’s almost orgasmic.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago was first conceptualized in 1995 when The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACC Midwest) was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACC Midwest, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services for GACC Midwest, initiated the partnership with city officials of Nuremberg, Germany. Mr. Lotter invited companies from Germany and the Chicago area to participate in the first Christkindlmarket Chicago in 1996. The market was an instant success and continues to flourish through the work of GACC Midwest’s subsidiary, German American Events, LLC.

The inaugural event took place on Pioneer Court in 1996 for the first time. By special invitation of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. With the support of the City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions for locals and tourists alike.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago is the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe, offering a unique shopping experience, family-friendly events & intercultural activities.

That can’t happen this year. Only insane and reckless folks are traveling, and the Christkindlmarket will not be open in a physical sense this year due to the pandemic.

However, There is a virtual Christkindlemarket, and you can order mugs and scarves and ornaments and cool stuff, plus they have links to dozens of their regular vendors, so you can at least experience the shopping, even if the joy of hot cocoa and pretzels in Chicago is not possible.

As they say at their website…

From November 1st – December 31st, people from all around the nation will be able to enjoy the beloved tradition from the comfort and safety of their homes through the first-ever virtual Christkindlmarket “Home for the Holidays,” featuring an online marketplace, family-friendly events, and fun interactive activities.

Ready to make some wonderful memories and get into the holiday spirit?

You can find individual items, and gift boxes at their shop, and you can also visit their affiliated vendors for even more cool holiday items.

Shutting down to the public was the only thing that made sense this year. Below you see a photo of Christkindlmarket in 2016 that was taken at the least crowded time of day. But you can get into the Christmas spirit from the comfort of your own home, and we need it more than ever this year.