Families and friends gathered together at This is the Place Heritage Park on Dec. 5-6 to celebrate German Christmas traditions. The celebration was organized like a German Christmas market. Vendors sold everything from toys to candies, children walked in lantern and tannenbaum parades and St. Nicholas came to visit.
The lantern parade on Dec. 6 reenacted parades held each Nov. 11 remembering the light St. Martin brought into the life of a beggar one cold wintery night.
Allyson Chard, founder of the Christkindlmarkt, which began last year, has invited local public figures to come and narrate the story of St. Martin for the last two years.
“We try to keep the speakers broad so that we include the entire community. Last year we had Bishop Wester from the Catholic Church and this year we had President Uchtdorf [from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints],”
President Uchtdorf, a native German speaker, told the story of St. Martin, a Roman soldier who found a beggar as he was riding his horse. The beggar asked him for money, yet all he had was the coat on his back. Feeling sympathetic towards the beggar, St. Martin cut his coat in half to share with him.
“I’m grateful for those children and young people in the community who come together and celebrate St. Martin’s day — it’s a symbol of taking care for the community,” Uchtdorf said.
Chard said that the event is centered on service.
“That’s why it is special to me,” Chard said. “This year children raised money for coats, socks, hats and shoes. One fourth grade raised 435 shoes for charity.”
Students from one junior high school went one day without coats to experience what it feels like to go without a coat. The school raised $1,900.
Students from the Bennion Community Service Center helped with crowd control, lining the parade route so children could walk by.
“It was really, really cold, but I was really pleased to see how many people came out and a lot of people from different parts of the community were there,” said John Peterson, a sophomore in international studies who helped at the event.
Families involved with the charities lined the parade route walkways. Two men warming themselves by the firepit said they came for the bratwursts. Others felt they wanted to get in touch with their German ancestry.
For Sibylla Vankeizerzaard and her daughter Pam, Christkindlmarkt was about reliving memories.
“My mother lived in Nuremburg and we went to a Christkindlmarkt while we were there, so we decided to come to this Christkindlmarkt to remember Germany,” Pam said.
Sibylla said they miss Germany and being at this German market felt like being back at home.