President Uchtdorf addresses Christkindlmarkt crowd in Salt Lake

Community members gathered in Salt Lake City and This is the Place Heritage Park to celebrate year two of German Christmas traditions at the Christkindlmarkt.

This year, special guest President Dieter F. Uchtdorf opened the three-day market with a ceremony about the legend of Saint Martins, where European children leave there shoes out so St. Nicholas will bring surprises to leave in them. He also talked about the wonderful gift of service this time of year and welcomed all to the market.

President Uchtdorf (middle) with his wife Harriet (left) enjoy the spirit of Christmas at the market on Dec. 5. (Photo courtesy Allyson Chard).
President Uchtdorf, center, with his wife Harriet, right, enjoy the spirit of Christmas at the market on Dec. 5. (Photo courtesy Allyson Chard)

“This is different, and this is special,” Uchtdorf said, according to KUTV. “I am grateful for those children, young people and for the community who comes together to celebrate this day, Saint Martins Day.”

President Uchtdorf mentioned that the Holiday “is a symbol of taking care of the community, of your neighbor and of those who are poor.”

Allyson Chard, the creative mind and founder behind the market, is a Salt Lake native but spent two years living in Germany. Her daughter is also currently serving in the Frankfurt, Germany mission. She fell in love with the Christmas markets there and decided to bring the tradition to Utah.

“We felt like it was really successful this year,” Chard said. “It was bitter cold, but I was amazed by how many came.”

The market included a light parade each night, music, food, shopping from a variety of local vendors and an abundance of Christmas spirit.

According to Chard, this market is special because of the service initiative it encourages.

“There is a huge tie to service; each of the children who participated in the parades at night had completed a service project,” Chard said. “The parade is a celebration of their good works.”

Chard mentioned that one fourth grade class donated 435 pairs of shoes for those in need. Another junior high school went without coats for a day to see how it felt. They then raised over $2,000 to donate towards winter coats.

Antije Evans, President Uchtdorf’s daughter, served on the planning committee this year to help with the authenticity of the market.

“I grew up in Germany, and moved here five years ago,” Evans said. “I grew up with these Christmas markets all my life; they are very special to me.”

All over Europe many travel around Christmas time just to see them, Evans mentioned.

“The authenticity was there. They have the commercial aspect in Germany — the special thing here is that there is a charitable part to learn the true meaning of Christmas,” Evans said.

Evans was glad that families came out to enjoy the spirit of Christmas. She said many who attended were able to experience German Christmas markets and felt it was authentic. The food, music, vendor booths, atmosphere, lights and the tree were all part of it for Evans.

Children perform in the light parade to celebrate the season of giving. (Photo courtesy Allyson Chard)
Children perform in the light parade to celebrate the season of giving. (Photo courtesy Allyson Chard)

“I hope it will stay and become a tradition here in Salt Lake City; it is all beautiful,” Evans said.

Amy Faust, a graduate student in audiology, attended the market this weekend.

“My family is German, and that tradition and heritage is very important to me,” Faust mentioned. “It’s so fun to have something around town that is catered towards that heritage,” Faust said. She felt the whole market embodied the idea of a picturesque Christmas.

According to KUTV, President Uchtdorf urged others to “be more forgiving, a little kinder — irrespective of religion, of political orientation, of race or whatever it is. Come together and do something for others and celebrate this beautiful time — its a joyful time.”

The market proved to be successful in all aspects this year.

Chard recalls one of many rewarding aspects for her.

“I love bringing people together. It is amazing to have a vision and watch it come to life,” Chard said. “It has been so fun from a creative standpoint.”

The Christkindlmarkt will be held next year as well, and the community is grateful for this new tradition.

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