**This article has been modified and updated. You can read the new, more comprehensive article by clicking this link.
Christmas is a special time in Europe with Christmas markets taking pride of place in many cities, towns and villages. The first ever Christmas market, Dresden's 'Striezelmarkt' in Germany, was recorded as far back as 1434. In those days, Christmas markets lasted no more than a day or two and tended to confine themselves to the area around the main church. Nowadays, Christmas markets usually start before the first weekend of Advent (around the end of November) and go on until Christmas Eve or thereabouts. Many run until Epiphany on 6 January.