For Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, Christmas markets in Germany bring back memories of bright twinkling lights, traditional music, and delicious candied almonds, all enjoyed in the prettiest, most historic parts of town. And while not everyone is lucky enough to visit a Christkindlmarkt in the Uchtdorf’s home country, Sister Uchtdorf and her daughter Antje gave listeners a taste of the magic on this week’s episode of the Church News podcast.
“As a family we always loved going to our local Christkindlmarkt in Germany. Every town and city have their own unique markets and atmosphere. You are welcomed by sweet and wonderful smells of gingerbread, spices, and all kinds of delicious food,” Sister Uchtdorf said.
And while the Uchtdorfs have lived in the US for many years now, the tradition of Christkindlmarkt has not been left behind. Sister Uchtdorf and Antje are on the leadership committee of Christkindlmarkt Salt Lake City, a free event held at This Is the Place Heritage Park.
“It brings the same old-world charm we grew up with,” Sister Uchtdorf said. Visitors can enjoy musical performances, cultural celebrations, and food from various vendors. The Uchtdorfs also help with a special service element each year.
“This year, our service project will focus on the support for refugees and foster families, and everyone again is invited to come and help,” Antje said. “The focus that we have at Christkindlmarkt Salt Lake City on service, I think, is unique. . . . I don’t think I’ve ever known one in Germany that has that . . . , because others are mostly commercial in nature. But this adds for us a special purpose and a deeper meaning and motivation for us also to participate.”
Christkindlmarkt Salt Lake City will be held December 1–8 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at This Is the Place Heritage Park.
Later in the Church News podcast episode, Antje and Sister Uchtdorf shared favorite family Christmas memories from their years in Germany. Antje said she loved going caroling with her sons and the local missionaries around their neighborhood in the days leading up to Christmas.
“Our neighbors would always look forward to our little choir, and often they would have already homemade cookies ready for us to take home. The missionaries would get a huge bag; we would get a little smaller one,” Antje remembered.
The town’s Protestant pastor’s home was on the caroling route, and Antje remembers how he enjoyed hearing songs from the Latter-day Saint hymnbook.
“He especially enjoyed when we sang what he called, ‘the American hymns,’ like ‘Away in the Manger.’ We would introduce him to a new song, a new hymn, every year,” Antje said.
For Sister Uchtdorf, the magic of Christmas grows each year, no matter where it is spent.
“Each Christmas has its own beauty. Each year, we feel this was the best, but then comes next Christmas [and] more children join the family [and] the circle of friends grows larger and deeper. . . . Of course, worries and sorrows are also there, but they add to our storehouse of memories in a special way. We learn to better cherish each moment and time spent with family and friends.”
And while service projects, caroling, and spending time with family will all bring the Christmas spirit, Sister Uchtdorf reminded listeners of another, holier way of celebrating.
“I sometimes wonder, ‘What would the Savior do if He was among us right now?’” she said. “I am confident that He would keep God’s commandments. He would serve God and He would love and serve those around Him whoever they are. Following His example may be the best way to celebrate Christmas each and every year.”
Listen to more insights from Sister Uchtdorf and Antje at Church News.