Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fredericksburg Texas: A European Christmas destination in the U.S.

Fredericksburg, Texas, in the beautiful Hill Country, is as close as you can get to Germany without flying to Europe. Fredericksburg, founded by German settlers, remains home to many with German last names. As you wander the shops and art galleries of this quaint town, you'll find restaurants with plenty of hearty German fare.

The centerpiece of Fredericksburg’s holiday decorations in downtown is a 26-foot tall wooden Christmas pyramid, hand crafted in Germany especially for Fredericksburg. 

A pyramid? Isn't that something you'll find in Egypt? Well, not exactly. When I lived in Germany I would shop the colorful German Christmas markets (Kristkindlesmarkt) and one of the popular items was a tiered candleholder with a propeller on the top that would be moved by the hot air rising from the candles. The pyramid makers would try to out-do each other with elaborate wooden figures, some representing fairy tales, decorating the pyramids. Children were entranced as candles were lighted and the propeller turned the layered wooden pyramid and the beautiful painted figures.

Christmas pyramids had their roots in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), a mining region in the eastern part of Germany.  When the mining industry lost importance, the people of the region decided to use their woodworking skills to start a new trade.  Today, the skilled craftsmen of the Erzgebirge manufacture internationally collected Christmas pyramids, nutcrackers, smokers, candle arches, music boxes and many other wooden figurines.   Christmas pyramids are popular in homes across Germany and now in many parts of the United States.

Today, in many cities and towns in Germany, large-scale outdoor Christmas pyramids powered by electricity are located at the Marktplatz or other locations associated with Christmas celebrations.  

With a nod to its German heritage, Fredericksburg’s 26-foot tall Christmas pyramid and City Christmas Tree are located at the Marktplatz, or the town square, at the heart of town on Main Street.

As has been the tradition for many years, all of the buildings along Main Street in Fredericksburg’s historic district will be outlined with white lights, and five foot Christmas wreaths adorn 80 utility poles along Main Street. Also in the Marktplatz is an outdoor skating rink.

The holiday decorations will be in place through Epiphany in January.

2015 Holiday Guide

Photo/video Credit: Visit Fredericksburg