11/22/2014

Weihnachtsmarkt 2014 Happening This Weekend in New Braunfels, Texas

Image copyright M. Gwynn 2014
It's old-world style yuletide at the annual Wiehnachtsmarkt in New Braunfels, Texas. What in the world is Weihnachtsmarkt? It means "Christmas Market" in German, and it's a tradition presented to the public each year to not only get people into the spirit of Christmas, but also to benefit the Sophienburg Museum.

The museum houses the entire chronicled history of the settlement of the German town of New Braunfels.

In 1844 Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels and a group of emigrants set out from Germany to start a colony in the Republic of Texas. The Prince chose a site on the Comal River because of its abundant water, lush vegetation, and "a good omen." On March 21, 1845, he and his band of pioneers founded New Braunfels, named for his hometown in Germany.
Prince Carl chose a hill overlooking the beginnings of the town and began his plan to build a castle on the site. His home was to be called Sophienburg (Sophie’s Castle) for his fiancée, Lady Sophia, Princess of Salm-Salm. He returned to Germany to bring Sophia to Texas, but she refused to leave. Prince Carl chose his fiancée over Texas and stayed in Germany to marry Sophia. He never returned to Texas. Today the Sophienburg Museum and Archives stands on the hill chosen long ago by Prince Carl.

In addition to supporting the museum, the Christmas market also supports local businesses and artisans of all types selling hand-made jewelry to food stuffs such as the most amazing smelling roasted cinnamon pecans (oh my goodness! They smelled like fresh-baked cookies. I swear the scent lured me all the way to the stall of Totally Nutz. You can find them at 1655 Anna Lee in New Braunfels, usually, but this weekend fro 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can get your bag of warm roasted nuts at the New Braunfels Civic Center located on 380 S. Seguin Road - not far from the town circle.)

One of the treasures I stumbled upon was Cameo blessings. Owner and jeweler, Debbie Malone, shared the story of how her parents purchased a defunct Providence, Road Island jewelry warehouse. Inside, was a trove of old cameos from the 1930s-1960s. They weren't set, so her parents gave them to her to create beautiful jewelry that she is using as a means to pay for a massive medical debt incurred with her husband's cancer diagnosis. So I purchased a gorgeous bracelet ($20), and my mom also found a pendant and earrings she liked as well as a Christmas gift for my sister. (www.cameoblessings.net)

Next to her stall, a lovely lady from Leipzig, Germany sold hand-carved wooden Christmas ornaments. We spoke at length about my own visit to Germany in 2010, my current series of novels based in Berlin, and wouldn't you know, she gave me a fantastic snowman ornament. I gave her one of my new bookmarks featuring my writing, and well, we became friends. Take a moment to visit her at Old World Treasures (2098 Westwood Ct., Frisco, Tx - oldworldtreasures@att.net.

There's a lot of walking going on in this market, so thankfully, there are plenty of places to sit for a moment like Sophie's Cafe where you can grab a light lunch or the many benches in the second hall where I happened to meet Mr. John Haakman. Mr. Haakman was also taking five while his friend, Ruth, did a little shopping. He asked me if I'd ever visited Holland. I told him I'd only spent the night in Amsterdam (that trip to Europe in 2010) after missing my connecting flight back to the states. That Icelandic volcano that no one can pronounce messed up many travel plans at that time. I could tell by his accent that Mr. Haakman was from the area. Indeed, he said he was born north of Amsterdam in 1927. told me that he was only twelve years old when World War II broke out. He remembers clearly the names of the German cities bombed, and the military overtaking his own city. He's been in the United States for the past 50 years, and served in the Air Force. Mr. Haakman is every bit as much a treasure as the items hand-crafted by local artists and sold by business owners, if not more so. And you can't experience such connections in a commercial mall these days. 

 
Book lovers will be pleased to know that there are several authors on hand that you can meet, and have personally sign the books you buy. One of which is award-winning poet, storyteller, humorist, motivational speaker, musician, editor, and publisher, Barbara Youngblood Carr. She's authored 18 books, 9 of which are her Ancestors Series which tells the tale of her Native American Cherokee heritage. You can look her up at ancestorpoet.com.

So what are you doing this weekend? I knew it! You're heading over to the Weihnachtsmarkt for a little Christmas shopping, and a whole lot of fun.  And see what else you can do below!! It involves a little Ho, Ho, Ho!