Auerbach: A Miner’s Christmas Market

Auerbach: A Miner’s Christmas Market -- Photo Credit: Sabine WiesentAuerbach, Germany — It’s a tradition that has survived over the past 25 years in Auerbach: The miners in their black uniforms form a parade and march onto the Auerbach Advent Market with their torches. This takes place on the evening prior to their St. Barbara fest. St. Barbara is the patron saint of the miners and to date she is being commemorated by the former miners and their comrades. St. Barbara’s saint day is on Dec. 4. Usually, the Sunday prior is the first Sunday of Advent and a special mass is being held at the Auerbach church. Led by a band and accompanied by local politicians, the miners walk through the seasonally decorated town. A joint dinner follows mass.

However, the torch parade the night before is even more impressive. The Advent market in the historic old town has been organized by the city’s marketing association for more than 30 years.

Clubs and groups offer culinary delicacies such as cross Bratwurst, hearty soups, spicy gingerbread and sweet cookies in the booths with their red roofs. Also available are small, home-made presents, articles to decorate your home and home-made jewelry. The brass band opens the market with Christmas tunes, followed by children’s choirs and other choirs. At dusk, mostly families gather on the seasonally decorated market place which is towered over by a large Christmas tree. The children’s eyes then go up to the balcony of the historic Schenkl school house. From there, the Christ child speaks its prologue. Both children and adults are taken by her white and golden dress and her long, blonde locks. After the prologue, this heavenly messenger joins the crowd together with its angels and St. Nicholas to distribute sweets to the children.

The candles on the trees are glowing, the chains of lights are sparkling between the booths, and when even white snowflakes fall from the sky, then everybody knows it’s Christmas time in Auerbach. And then the visitors are waiting for the miners in their black uniforms with the golden buttons and characteristic hats. They say their prologue in the glow of the shimmering torches and put everybody in the spirit for the most beautiful time of the year. but they also commemorate their many deceased comrades whose work once established the city’s wealth. Meanwhile, some young men have joined the association, despite the fact that they don’t work in the mines anymore, to carry on and pass on the tradition of their fathers to their sons and grandsons.

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