Humble Onion Stars at Weimar Onion Market

A colorful autumn fair; a local market since 1653

Photos courtesy of German National Tourist Office

Onions in Weimar

The humble onion is the star of the show at the Onion Market held in Weimar, Germany every October. These are no ordinary onions lumped together in crates or sacks; these are onions arranged together in the traditional way and decorated with dried flowers of yellow, white or lilac. They come in all sizes, too—from tiny ones to whopping big ones.

The market was first recorded in 1653 as a “market for beasts and onions” on what is today the Frauenplan, at a time when Weimar barely had a population of 5,000. There are many instances of the links between the German writer Goethe and the Market; he is said to have secured onion hearts to his desk, to have decorated his house with them, and to have praised the role of the onion in promoting good health.

Onion Market in Weimar

In the 19th century, the market moved to today’s Schillerstrasse and developed into the major onion purchasing center for the whole of central Germany. Dealers came mainly from Heldrungen, 29 miles away, and that is still the case today.

In 1861 the market was extended to three days. In 1872 the city of Weimar passed an Onion Market Ordinance. Onions are offered as well as celery, radishes, garlic, leeks and marjoram, as well as other types of spices and vegetables. During the 20th century, world wars and inflation led to the decline of the market, and it was reduced to one day due to the limited produce available and high prices. It was not until the 1950s that the market began to pick up again, and by 1971 a record was set when 200,000 visitors attended.

Onions in Weimar

The sale of the famous market souvenir, the onion garland, has grown to 70,000 pieces, and onions and other vegetables, fruits, spices and handicrafts began to make their mark. In 1990 the Onion Market again became a three-day event. The market has also grown in size in the interim and now occupies the whole of the historic inner city. The number of visitors is now 350,000 annually.

For more info, contact the German National Tourist Office.

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