Flat Stanlina and I headed to the very middle of downtown. Daley Plaza is a large open space in the middle of downtown, named for one of Chicago’s long time mayors, Richard J. Daley. A statue by the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso stands in the middle. Flat Stanlina asked me what the statue was. I told her I think Mr. Picasso wanted each person to decide because named his statue “Untitled.” But at this time of year the Picasso statue has a lot of company. (There's the statue on the left in the picture below.) We were going to Daley Plaza to see the Christkindlmarket! (It's pronounced like Chris-kindle-market. That's the German spelling.)
The great thing about Chicago is the many different groups of immigrants who have made Chicago their home over the years. Each group brings their own traditions, food, religions, languages and customs.
One group that immigrated to Chicago was the Germans. The Germans brought their tradition of an outdoor Christmas Market to Chicago. It is called the Chriskindlmarket, and it is run by the city.
There’s a Christmas tree with many lights. The Chriskindlmarket sets up sellers in temporary buildings that look like a German village. Sellers offer traditional German food, like sausage and mustard, noodles, and various salads of lettuce, beets, and cucumber. Other people sell Christmas tree ornaments and decorations, hand-made toys, warm wooly sweaters and other things that can make nice gifts. It is fun to see everyone bundled up outside, enjoying the holiday and each other.
We saw the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene at Christkindlmarket.
"What’s that?" asked Stanlina. She pointed to a big letter A.
"I don’t know."
Of course, Christmas is a holiday celebrated by people who follow one of the many Christian religions. Many people follow religions different from Christianity (some examples of major religions include Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam) and celebrate holidays according to their beliefs. There are also people who do not follow any religion at all.
According to the sign, this red letter A stands for Atheism, a word that describes people who follow no religion and do not believe in a single God. In the United States, freedom to follow any religion (or no religion) is a right that is protected by our laws.