By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Now everybody sing:
“You better watch out, you better not pout,
“You better not cry, I’m telling you why,
“Weihnachtsmarkt is coming to town.”
Yes, indeed, Weihnachtsmarkt begins Friday morning at New Braunfels Civic Convention Center. The local Christmas Market, patterned after those in Germany, is the major fundraiser for the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. In addition to grants and donations, Weihnachtsmarkt keeps the Museum and Archives afloat.
The history of these markets in Germany goes way back in time when merchants would set up their outdoor booths before Christmas. Locally, the market has a history beginning in 1989.
Weihnachtsmarkt is more than a commercial enterprise. It celebrates the creativity and artistic ability of those who put it together. The atmosphere inside the civic center will put you in the mood for the Christmas season. Not only do merchants compete in decorating their booths, but the whole center is decorated.
Three years ago, I said I thought Prince Carl must have invented Weihnachtsmarkt because of his connection to the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. But now, after seeing Jane Mauldin’s poster, I think Santa Claus invented the market. First of all, Santa is coming to town. Think about it — presents, shopping, decorations, trees, food.
Mauldin’s poster highlights Santa in traditional red coat and since he must be a Texan, he has on black cowboy boots. He has landed in Landa Park, which is celebrating its 75th birthday. Santa has his bag bursting full of toys, and around him are little boys and girls hoping to be the recipients of something. Behind Santa is the Pioneer statue showing a family of emigrants and also the gazebo on Landa Lake. Off in the distance is the miniature train rounding the bend. Mauldin’s poster is advertising Santa, so I’m sure he invented Weihnachtsmarkt.
Coca-Cola is given credit for how we picture Santa Claus. The rotund, happy man in red is a long way from his ancestor, St. Nicholas, who looks rather ghostly in brown burlap threatening children to be good or be the recipient of switches, potatoes, or sausage.
If Santa and Prince Carl both show up at Weihnachtsmarkt, maybe we can have a political debate and solve this issue of who began Weihnachtsmarkt for once and for all.
Mauldin’s poster will be featured on the shopping bag everyone will receive. It’s not your ordinary shopping bag — it’s a keeper. Posters from the last three years can be purchased at Sophie’s Shop at the market. Collect all three from 2009, 2010 and 2011. Frame them, and hang them during the Christmas season. They will appreciate in value.
Speaking of Sophie’s Shop, I would like to tell you about all 80 booths, but since there’s no room, I will tell you about the Sophienburg’s booth. Nancy Classen, manager of the museum’s shop, Teresa Johnson and Sarah Reeves have been to market and have come back with some amazing items for Christmas. Some ornaments are strictly New Braunfels ornaments, including a replica of our Comal County Courthouse that is being remodeled and the three Plaza Bandstands.
In all this shopping madness, let’s not forget the first Christmas celebrated on the coast in 1844, when the first emigrants arrived. The Rev. Ervendberg held the first Communion and Christmas service there. A live oak tree was decorated with candles and small gifts for the children, and Prince Carl presented a silver chalice, a communion pitcher, and a wafer plate to the pastor for use at the first church in New Braunfels, the German Protestant Church.
A duplicate chalice resides in the ancestral home of Prince Carl in the castle of Braunfels as a reminder of our connection. (Source: “Journey in Faith”; Gregory and Goff)
Join us at Weihnachtsmarkt Nov. 18-20 and help the Sophienburg Museum and Archives keep alive the history of the settlement of New Braunfels.
Myra Lee Adams Goff writes a biweekly column about the Sophienburg Museum and Archives for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung.