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Viewpoints . . . Chalking the doors in Germany

Stille Nacht turns 200 by Daniel Schwarz

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the first performance of Stille One of the oldest Christian tra-
Nacht. On Dec. 24, 1818, Stille Nacht premiered as a desperate solution ditions in Catholic communi-
to a malfunctioning pipe organ at the parish church of Oberndorf bei ties in Germany and elsewhere is
Salzburg in Austria. The solution was for the local schoolteacher, Franz to mark the entry doors to homes
Xaver Gruber, to set a meditative poem by the parish priest, Fr. Josef and religious buildings with the
Mohr, to music. A humble guitar tune for a humble poem has gone on sign to commemorate the Feast of
to become the world’s favorite Christmas Carol. In 2011, UNESCO the Epiphany.
designated it an intangible cultural heritage. A blessed and happy holiday
season to all! Epiphany is the day described
in the Gospel of Matthew and de-
Historic Helm marker dedicated veloped as a Christian
celebration/feast day, and a Holy
“It is our hope that this historic marker you see here will stand as a Day of Obligation for the Catholic ending the letters C, M, and B, words Christus Mansionem
testament not only for those of us today but can reflect on our past and Church. It is the day that the three separated by plus signs and a star. Benedicat, “May Christ bless this
also for future generations, congratulations on your new marker,” said, Wise Men or Kings visited Jesus house.” The plus signs symbolize
Paula Miller, executive director for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. after his birth bringing precious For 2019, it will look like: 20 * the cross, and star for the Star of
gifts of gold, frankincense and C + M + B + 19. Some prefer to Bethlehem.
“In memory of and tribute to Samuel Helm the first German settler myrrh to honor the new born King place the star above the M to put it
in Buffalo, NY. May it serve as a visible reminder to all both now and in of Kings. in the sky, and add another plus This powerful message of faith
the future that his settlement at this site and near it began an historical sign. The letters C, M, and B actu- in Jesus is placed by the head of
heritage which evolved into the German influences in this city and Epiphany is also known as ally have two interpretations. The the house, or priest. A prayer of
around Western New York.” said Rev. Donald Reidell in his dedication Twelfth Night or more commonly common one is that the letters blessing is given after the chalking
prayer. Three Kings Day. In Germany, stand for the Three Kings or more has been placed, and with all of the
especially in southern Germany it appropriately magi: Caspar, Mel- residents of the home present. It is
from page 1 without success. He was struck is Drei Heilige Königstag (3 Kings chior, and Balthazar. However, kept there all year as a reminder of
and killed with an Indian toma- Day). It is celebrated on Jan. 6, they also abbreviate the Latin God’s blessing.
Helm, a bachelor, decided to hawk. being the 12th day after Christmas.
visit his lady friend Susannah In the United States, Epiphany is Published by February-March
Thomas who lived in nearby Wil- As Helm wished, his property celebrated in many churches on a Buffalo Standard Printing April-May
liamsville, NY, and give her infor- was legally transferred to his lady Sunday between Jan. 2 and 8. In June-July
mation where his property deed friend Susannah Thomas by an 2019, Epiphany will be celebrated 3620 Harlem Rd.
was hidden so she could retrieve it “Act for the relief of Susannah on Sunday, Jan. 6. Cheektowaga, NY 14215 Oktoberfest Guide
and inherit it should he perish de- Thomas” by the NYS Legislature August-September
fending his home. passed on March 10, 1815. The tradition of chalking the 716-831-8013 October-November
doors is a means to ask God to December-January
He returned to Buffalo, and on This historic marker, and its bless their home and all that live
Dec. 30, 2013, the historical location, is very significant for the there, and visit. The actual mark- For Advertising Sales call:
“Burning of Buffalo” occurred. City of Buffalo, since it is the 2nd ings look like a mathematical for- Michelle Kisluk or
The British military from the West, most populace city in NYS, and mula to those not familiar with this Steve Kroczynski
and the allied native Indians from has German as the highest com- tradition. It includes the year book
the North invaded Buffalo, killing mon ancestry group. Therefore,
many residents and burning the this historic marker that memori- Thanks!
village to the ground. alizes Helm, the earliest known
German-American landowner in from the
Helm remained in his home Buffalo, will bring attention to the
foolishly determined to protect his City of Buffalo, and be a reminder to the Media
home to the end. After having of its proud German heritage. Fund donors:
smelled the smoke of his burning
neighbors’ homes, he still re- Dan Schwarz can be contacted Karl Bauer Since 1970 the Buffalo Standard
mained until the Indians were at his with any questions, comments at Printing Booster Club has raised funds
door when he finally tried to flee N.J. Burkard to support our family of publications.

Subscribe today to Loretta Kanehl These funds have been used to off-set some of the
$16 for 6 issues publication costs, increases in postage, and affords
Thomas Leithner the ability to secure the best writers in Western New
Name______________________________________ York. The German Citizen is published to serve the
Address____________________________________ Paul E. Neupert German-Americans of Upstate New York. Donors to
City/State/Zip______________________________ the Press Fund will be thanked in the last issue of the
Phone______________________________________ Daniel Schwarz year, unless otherwise instructed by the donor.

Make Check payable to Buffalo Standard Printing and William MAIL TO: Buffalo Standard Printing Press Fund
Mail to 3620 Harlem Rd., Cheektowaga, NY 14215 Walbesser 3620 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga, NY 14215
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Have a question, comment,
or concern about the Upstate To the German-American Community.
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