Author’s Note: This tour was taken in December 2019
There is an old saying: In a small town, creativity runs wild. Small towns don’t have the luxury of all the “good stuff” that big cities have, such as sports venues, places of entertainment, shopping malls and all. If you live in a small town, you make do with the limited resources you have. Sometimes when having that, you can be creative in making something that is either functional, fancy or both.
And this was something I learned during a brief stop in the town of Werdau. The small town of 23,400 inhabitants is located along the River Pleisse in the western part of Saxony. It’s the next door neighbor to Zwickau, yet it is located at the junction of two of the oldest rail lines in Germany: The Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate and the Leipzig-Hof-Munich lines, both of which are almost 180 years old. The town has four viaducts that are located either west or south of the city center. The city center itself consists of a straight line of a wide street, flanked by many historic buildings, such as the city hall, bank and St. Mary’s Church. The historic fountain is found on the southern end of the strip, which runs from Querstrasse in the south and Brühl in the north, where Highway 175 is located.
It’s along this stretch of street is where the Christmas market is located. Each side of the street is lined with huts made of oak with the stage for entertainment on the left, as seen in this picture. The tree is located at the fountain and behind that is Santa’s house, where kids could enter and leave him their wish lists. The fountain is decorated as an Advent Wreath with four lanterns, each one represents the week of Advent, though during the visit the lanterns were shut off, even though it was during the time of the Third Advent.
Up until 2018, Werdau’s market was held for only one Advent weekend and for a few hours on Sunday. Yet public demand called for the market to be held during the time of Advent from November 28th until December 22nd, to compete with the likes of the ones in the regions, including Zwickau, Crimmitschau, Schneeberg and even Glauchau/ Waldenburg. As you can see in the pictures, the market is well received by the visitors, though parking possibilities in and around the city center, given the infrastructural landscape of Werdau, could use some improvement for with the car, the possibilities are limited, yet with the bike and by foot, they are all within a three-minute reach.
Werdau’s market offers local specialties that are typical for the state of Saxony, yet one hut caught my eye which sold handmade goods, and it is the one of the Sonnenberg Schule. The school is a state-accredited institute and is a special school for students with developmental disabilities, The school is open for these students between the ages of four and 23. I was at the hut and found a wide array of handcrafted Christmas items, renging from bottle lanterns to ornaments made of nuts, clay and wood.
One of the items that caught my eye was the Guardian Angel (Schutzengel), as you can see in the box on the right side in the picture above. These angels are made with clay and are easy to make. It depends on what type of clay you have, let alone whether you need to “bake them in the oven”
Judging by the appearance, one needs to make a flat circle out of the clay, then slice the circle halfway through. Fold the pointed edges outwards and the center of the circle inwards. Then, as you can see in the close-up, extend the curve outwards to make it look like the angel is wearing a dress. The head can be added extra by rolling a small ball and placing it on top like in the picture. Paint, glaze and bake and voila! 🙂 The exact way it was made is unknown but these Werdauer Angels made for a very unique gift, with or even without facial features and other accessories. For the Sonnenberg School, this was a cool gift and one that I eventually bought for my daughter for she collects angels. A simple but lovely gift indeed.
After about a half hour or so, it was time to leave. But if there was a word to describe Werdau’s Christmas Market it would be that it’s local and full of Werdauer Angels bringing people together. While some improvements are recommended, the town’s market left a very lasting impression because of its setting, the Christmassy feeling shown among locals and the homemade goodies that you can get the last minute and even recommend making at home if and when one has the chance to do that. And for that, my word of advice to the smaller communities that hold Christmas markets in the future:
Make it local, make it unique, make it fancy but be creative, for creativity trumps all, especially for Christmas time.
More photos of my visit can be found here.