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A Coburg Christmas Experience

Katja Nauer, a freelance journalist for Neue Presse, (the daily New Press newspaper) in Germany, contacted the village historian to ask the question, “How is Christmas celebrated in Garden City?” She lives in Coburg, Germany, which is Garden City’s “sister city.”

Picturesque Coburg is located in northern Bavaria, north of Munich and east of Frankfurt, along the Itz River.

Coburg’s narrow streets and well-preserved buildings were not bombed during World War II. Perhaps that is due to its ties to the royal family, the British House of Windsor through the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840. He was born and lived in Coburg before his marriage to his famous cousin. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert loved Coburg. Some stories indicate that Prince Albert introduced the German concept of the Christmas tree to England.

Coburg is also home to Sister Berta Hummel’s porcelain figurines produced in the 1930s by Franz Goebel, and popularized with United States soldiers returning from Germany during World War II.

Currently, Coburg has a population of 42,000.

There are many sights in Coburg. There is the popular Veste Coburg, which is the medieval fortress overlooking the town, built in 1225. It’s now a museum that features weaponry in its armory, as well as art, engravings and glass. In addition, Coburg has the Museum of Natural History, the Coburg State Theatre and the Coburg Doll Museum.

After the historian sent her answers on how Garden City celebrates, Nauer was asked the same question, “How is Christmas celebrated in Coburg, Germany?” Here is her answer:

“Coburg has a traditional Christmas Market, directly on the Market Square, surrounded by our wonderful illuminated historic houses, which takes place in December. There is a huge decorated Christmas tree and you can find Maria and Josef in their barn. Merchants in wooden houses offer different presents—partially handmade—for your friends and family, and you can have some Glühwein or Glühbier which is a popular alcoholic drink made of wine and fruits. You only get it in winter,” Nauer remarked.

The merchants also sell Lebkuchen, a German gingerbread and the Coburg-style bratwurst that’s grilled over a pine cone fire.

The Christmas Market season starts with a candlelight parade led by the Coburg Children’s Choir. The opening ceremony follows, as the statue of Prince Albert surveys the cobblestoned marketplace filled with revelers. Below Albert’s figure is a temporary outdoor cafe area. There is a carousel in the square for children to ride. Artisans demonstrate glassblowing, wood carving and other traditional crafts. The tiny boutiques are filled with Christmas decorations, wood toys, porcelain figures. Romantic horse and carriage rides take couples around the old town under the stars.

“Two to three weeks before Christmas Eve people buy their tree, mostly a Nordmanntanne (Caucasian fir), which has soft needles. On Christmas Eve, the tree will be decorated with candles, golden or silver tinsel and glass-made Christmas tree balls. We have some factories here which produce them by hand. They are very famous. And Lauscha in Thüringen, the traditional glassblower town, is not far away. Very traditional are door wreaths made of pine or fir branches and advent wreaths, prettily decorated with candles.”

“In Germany, the Weihnachtsmann [Santa Claus] or the Christkind [Christ Child], brings the colourfull wrapped (sic) presents. Their visit is on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus arrives with a sleigh. Normally unnoticed by the children, who are waiting for him desperately in their rooms or in church, when they attend church services or play in a nativity play. Some families rent a Weihnachtsmann. When he is coming in the children participate. He has a rod with him and is very authoritative, but he certainly does not use it (!), and a big sacking bag full of presents. This is our Heiligabend. [Christmas Eve]. After or before exchanging the Christmas presents people will have their traditional Christmas dinner, which is the breast of a goose, roasted in the oven. It will be served with gravy, red cabbage, and Coburger Klöße, made of potatoes and a green salad. The Klöße look similar to your dumplings. Some people serve only sausage and potato salad. Many people attend church, some not. But for most of the people it simply belongs to a perfect Heiligabend, “ Katja Nauer added.

For more information on historic Coburg and the surrounding area, please visit

Both Katja Nauer and Village Historian Suzie Alvey wish you a Froehliche Weihnachten!­­—Merry Christmas!