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South Forsyth's German Holiday Market aims to spread cultural awareness
German Market
Beverly Johnson of Cumming and her 5-year-old daughter Eleanor color Christmas- themed pictures Saturday at the annual German Market hosted by South Forsyth High School’s German Club. - photo by Alexander Popp

The snow couldn’t stop the annual German Holiday Market originally scheduled Dec. 9 and hosted by the students of South Forsyth High School’s German Club. 

Postpone, yes, but not cancel. It didn’t stop German teacher and club advisor Jonas Strecker from worrying a little bit.

“We aren’t sure how many people are gonna show up today,” Strecker said Saturday, Dec. 16, as he circled the gym working on last minute preparations. 

“It’s been a staple of the community for years now, but when you make last minute changes, it’s hard for people to adjust their calendars,” he said.

Strecker’s fears were broken as families began to file into the South Forsyth cafeteria at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Strecker explained that the annual market was started years ago to give German students an event where they could practice aspects of the culture that they had been learning throughout the year.

It’s also an opportunity to show young people a little about German Christmas tradition.

German Market
Drew and Steven Hurlbut make Christmas ornaments Saturday at the annual German Market hosted by South Forsyth High School’s German Club. - photo by Alexander Popp
“A lot of American Christmas traditions come from Germany, and we want to make people aware of that,” Strecker said.

Jonas said that his main goals for the event were to introduce the younger-aged children of South Forsyth to a new culture by doing crafts and showing them some of the traditional German Christmas practices. 

Families attending the event were guided in making ornaments and a paper “shoe” to place under the Christmas tree in the center of the Cafeteria. 

“This is still a big deal in Germany. My own kids observe these traditions along with American traditions,” Strecker said.

He said that by having kids participate in traditions like making handmade ornaments and placing shoes under the tree, it gets them thinking about other cultures.

“And also we want to make parents aware of the programs we have here, so when it comes time, they know there are other options beyond Spanish,” he said. 

Strecker said there are currently more than 80 German companies that regularly do business in Forsyth County and that the program at South Forsyth has grown tremendously recently. 

Christine Yang, South Forsyth’s German Club President, echoed Strecker’s excitement about the event.

“It’s pretty amazing to see everyone come together to do this and it’s great to see the kids get excited about this,” Yang said.  

Yang said she got into the club to meet people when she moved to the district, but that she quickly fell in love with the language and the community feel of the club. 

“I think it’s really important to let people know that they can find belonging in learning a foreign language and culture,” she said. 

Yang, a senior at South Forsyth said she was recently accepted to Yale where she will continue to study German.