Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in La Habra will be celebrating its namesake’s feast day with its first ever European-style Christmas market, but with a unique twist.
El Mercado del Niño Jesus will be a free market open to all that features a rotating selection of around 25 food, shopping, crafts and game booths. It starts on Friday, Dec. 8 and runs daily through Dec. 17.
The Christmas market is free and will take place in front of the school at the parish.
Each day will showcase its own theme, from a North Pole visitor day to First Five Kids giveaway day, where diapers and car seats will be given out.
“While you do your shopping, you can eat and drink,” said Fr. William Goldin, the parish’s parochial administrator. “What could be better?”
He added: “My goal is that we try to replicate, but with a La Habra and Our Lady of Guadalupe spin, the experience of a German, Austrian or Swiss Christmas market.”
The La Habra parish’s market will also include lit Christmas trees surrounded by lights, a creche and tables for socializing. Tents, one dubbed Santa Claus’ Tavern, will host a beer hall, hot alcoholic drinks and non alcoholic drinks, while the other will host entertainment. Vendor booths will offer Christmas-themed and everyday items, artisanal wares and stocking stuffers. There will also be appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“This is going to be a new tradition,” said Scott Miller, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s director of outreach. “This will be the first of many years of markets. The community support for it has already been outstanding.”
El Mercado del Niño Jesus will reflect the flavor of the community with ponche, a Mexican alcoholic drink with spices and fruit, and canela, a cinnamon-based alcoholic beverage. The food booths will showcase a rotating list of offerings from Mexican and Italian fare to burgers and hot dogs. There will also be dessert booths.
“We are getting little mugs produced with our logo so people can walk around with their hot drinks as they are shopping, milling about and having a good time with friends,” said Fr. William.
Fr. William, who has family in Austria, has visited Christmas markets in the past. So, when a former colleague, Deacon Gerard Wallace at St. Vincent de Paul parish in Huntington Beach, brought up the idea to him to host a German-style Christmas market, Fr. William thought about taking that idea with him to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“I said to him, ‘That’s a fantastic idea. Do you mind if I steal it?’” Fr. William said. “And it just turned out that he and I both shared this love of Christmas markets. They are one of my favorite things because my family is there. I go to markets from time to time, and it’s just really fun to get the community together celebrating the Lord.”
El Mercado del Niño Jesus replaces the parish’s longtime annual fiesta that ended during the pandemic.
“It was a wonderful event, but it was just time for something new for our community,” Miller said. “When Fr. Will mentioned it that first month, I just jumped on it. I embraced the idea. I loved the idea.”
The market will be open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday with a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and continue from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday; 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 11 through Dec. 14; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Dec. 15; noon to 10 p.m. on Dec. 16; and noon to 9 p.m. on Dec. 17. For more information, email [email protected].
“We would love to see people from near and far,” Fr. William said. “Come celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, our patroness of the Diocese, and the child Jesus, who is the reason for the season!”