Annual German Christmas market returns to the Hope town square

HOPE — The second annual German Christmas market returns to the Hope town square over the next two weekends.

On Fridays (Dec.1 and 8), the Weihnachten festival will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., while hours over the next two Saturdays (Dec. 2 and 9) will be noon until 8 p.m. Weihnachten is literally translated as “consecrated night,” but the German word has come to mean Christmas.

The first night of the Weihnachten festival coincides with Christmas of Yesteryear, sponsored by the Yellow Trail Museum. Approval of the market by the town council came with the stipulation that organizers coordinate with the museum’s board for the two events.

Sponsored by the Community Center of Hope, the inaugural German Christmas market had cold temperatures last year. Nevertheless, four out of the five vendors who came in 2022 are returning this month, community center board member Dan Fleming said. In total, there will be eight vendors this year, he said.

“German heritage is a big part of Hope,” Fleming said. “We all decided we couldn’t give it proper justice without bringing the German culture to the market.”

So what can visitors expect? One food being considered is Platzchen (Christmas cookies) and another is Weihnachtsstollen, a unique Christmas cake. Another part of Weihnachten involves eating potato salad and sausage, as well as die Suppe – a soup or fondue.

Those who have attended German Christmas markets in larger communities on in Europe may recall a hot-spiced red wine being served called Gluhwein.

“We will have a kid’s version of that,” Fleming said. “More Kool-Aid and no alcohol. There will be other hot beverages available, Fleming said.

The German Christmas market will be set up in converted 8-feet by 12-feet yard barns on the south side of the town square, Fleming said. Rather than moving the barns on and off during weekdays as they did last year, the town council has given permission for the barns to stay in place on the south side of the town square until Sunday, Dec. 10.

Instead of offering factory-made items, the Community Center has been in contact with several local artisans willing to make and sell items such as handmade jewelry and woodworking, Fleming said. For example, one vendor is selling custom greeting cards while another is making handmade Christmas decoration ornaments, he said.

“We’re proud to say these items are all from the local community in south central Indiana,” Fleming said. “Mostly Bartholomew County artists, but some live in counties adjacent to ours.”

Photographs of historic or iconic places taken within the northeast Bartholomew County community will also be available, he added.

The Community Center of Hope raises funds through a consignment obtained with each item sold, Fleming said.

While it might take a few years to catch on, the Community Center is hopeful that word of the German Christmas Market will eventually attract visitors from neighboring communities such as Columbus, Greensburg and Shelbyville, Fleming said.

As part of the Weihnachten festival, there will be hay rides that will use the same wagon utilized during a Halloween event in October. However, Fleming emphasized the wagon will be pulled by a small tractor, rather than horses.

A route for the hay ride is being developed that will utilizes near-downtown streets with the most attractive Christmas lights, Fleming said.