Richard Greene

Christmas traditions of ages past are relived in Arlington

Christkindl Angel leads a parade of children through last year’s Arlington Christkindl Market.
Christkindl Angel leads a parade of children through last year’s Arlington Christkindl Market. Star-Telegram

How about adding a Schwibbogen to your list of gifts for friends and family this year?

There’s a good chance you haven’t thought of that one. Perhaps an equal chance that you have no idea what it is or why you would be interested.

It’s actually a very old decoration that is traced to the 18th-century mining works in Germany. A Christmas Eve tradition of hanging lanterns around the entrances of mines evolved as a symbol of the longing of miners who didn’t see daylight in winter, for weeks sometimes, due to their working hours below the earth’s surface.

Now you can have one of your own from a variety of styles that offer the promise of shining warmth and love on families around the world.

But you only have a week left to select from the best, authentic, handcrafted ones that can only be found locally at the big Kathe Wohlfahrt hut in the center of the Texas Christkindl Market.

And that is just one of the selections at the major Rothenburg, Germany, merchant’s store that requires a catalog of some 43 pages to list them all.

If a Schwibbogen doesn’t light up your imagination, there are hundreds of other unique gift items from a variety of German and international merchants waiting for you to discover at the event’s fourth year in Texas.

Travel & Leisure magazine put the Arlington show on its list of America’s Best Christmas Markets, now recognized among only 10 such exclusive opportunities in the country to discover distinctive gift items you’d be hard-put to find anywhere else.

It’s all arranged in an easy-to-navigate setting along the north side of Globe Life Park, where parking and admission to the market is free.

Individual shops and their artisans offer something new throughout the experience of strolling through them all, with a guarantee that you will discover some things you’ve not seen before.

A partial list includes things such as handmade wood products, hand-painted glassware, personalized Christmas ornaments, wreaths, nutcrackers, nativities, Alpaca clothing, accessories, toys, baskets, paintings, carpets, cutting boards, lazy susans, mugs, steins, glasses, novelty hats and a great many one-of-a-kind jewelry items.

A favorite of returning shoppers is the kiosk operated by Sister Cities of Arlington, offering items from the town of Bad Konigshofen, which has carried on a partnership with Arlington since 1954.

In their booth you will find German lace ornaments, table coverings, doilies, window displays and prepackaged baked goods.

Speaking of things to eat and drink, there are a dozen food and beverage vendors serving up traditional German treats such as schnitzel, bratwurst, funnel cakes, kasewurst, knackwurst, crepes, pretzels, goulash, candy and caramel apples, roasted nuts, hot chocolate, beer and the ever-popular German holiday gluhwein.

Musical performances and shows are scheduled each day on the event’s center stage. Market hours run from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

Be sure to bring the kids — an authentic German Father Christmas, aka Santa Claus, is waiting for their wish list in the Santa Haus.

You even have a chance to meet a burgermeister — that’s German for mayor. Rothenburg’s Lord Mayor Walter Hartl is leading a delegation to Arlington and will make a public appearance at the Christkindl Market on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

With a week left until the market closes on Dec. 21, crowds this year have already topped previous turnouts for the event. If you haven’t found your way over, now’s the time.

Lots of information, with a complete list of merchants and vendors, performers, show times, and events can be found on the website,

You may want to check out that Schwibbogen.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.