Every villager has his or her own holiday traditions. Some enjoy the tree lighting in Frank Fetch Park, the glow of Village Lights, memories of sledding down "Schiller's mountain" in the park or grabbing a holiday-flavored coffee the very minute it isn't too early to taste gingerbread or eggnog. Others admire neighbors' holiday lights or giant outdoor tree decorations or attend a holiday concert.

Every villager has his or her own holiday traditions. Some enjoy the tree lighting in Frank Fetch Park, the glow of Village Lights, memories of sledding down "Schiller's mountain" in the park or grabbing a holiday-flavored coffee the very minute it isn't too early to taste gingerbread or eggnog. Others admire neighbors' holiday lights or giant outdoor tree decorations or attend a holiday concert.

There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays, but one of my favorites is by visiting Bierberg Bakery.

I believe that Bierberg Bakery is one of German Village's greatest assets. The business is a tradition in and of itself because Helen Walsh uses her grandmother's original cookie recipes year after year. In my book, recipes are quite nearly as precious as photo albums in how they manage to tie people, things and memories together over time.

Bierberg Bakery is a miniscule gem of a business in the middle of houses on Fifth Street between Sycamore and Frankfort. If you haven't been there, grab one other person and go, but don't dare take any more than that -- the two of you would pack the place.

The bakery is only open several months each year and specializes in Christmas cookies. My guess is they learned pretty quickly that when you've mastered something, you should stick with it and keep it simple.

The cookies are incredible. My sweet tooth is pretty intense and I know a good German cookie when I try one. Some of the best days at the Meeting Haus were when someone would bring us a box of cookies from Bierberg's.

As fantastic as the cookies are, the ladies who pack the boxes are just as delightful. Bierberg Bakery is a warm and welcoming place. The girls working seem to love what they do, maybe because it's for just a few months each year or maybe because everyone who walks in the door smiles in anticipation of the cookies they're about to buy. I can't imagine that Bierberg Bakery is a rough work environment.

The story behind the bakery is typical for Columbus' German immigrants. Theresa Hoehl, of Germany, met and married Ferdinand Bierberg, also of Germany, here in Columbus in 1910. Three years later, Theresa started her business in the South End at Eighteenth and Engler. She was a trained cook who baked for many of Columbus' well-to-do families. She was Catholic, but kept a kosher kitchen and was grateful throughout her career for the support she received from the Jewish community.

Theresa and Ferdinand had two sons, Gustav and Rudolph. Rudolph went on to the priesthood and Gus eventually ran his mother's bakery. In 1939, Gus met Emma Gremm, of Heppenheim, Germany. The story goes that her German accent was a hit in the bakery.

Gus and Emma moved the bakery into German Village in 1971 to a property the family had owned for several decades. Gus made wedding cakes and Bible cakes and, of course, his mother's Christmas cookies.

Gus and Emma had five children and his oldest daughter, Helen, currently runs the family business. Helen has four children who now serve as the fourth generation making Bierberg cookies.

While its location is relatively new in comparison, Bierberg Bakery is one of German Village's "big three" fourth-generation businesses. Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant and Franklin Art Glass Studios Inc. are the other two. There are a lot of stories within the walls of Bierberg Bakery and Helen and her children plan to bake many more cookies for years to come.

So if you thought German Village didn't offer enough to do this time of year, I'm quite sure that Village Lights and the variety of German Village Society Fun Committee events have changed your mind. If they don't, march to 729 S. Fifth St. and visit Bierberg Bakery. You'll be taking part in a tradition that has kept our neighborhood unique, vibrant and so very proud of its German roots.

Finally, as I've been writing this column, I've been baking my own Christmas cookies, which is a perk of working from home, I suppose. It's safe to say that most are burnt and now, more than ever, I'm wishing I was just a bit closer to German Village.

Happy, happy holidays!

Many thanks to Helen Walsh for the personal account of her family's bakery. Also, many thanks to P. Susan Sharrock of the German Village Society for suggesting I submit a column about Bierberg Bakery. She is, quite frequently, my thinking cap.

Jody Graichen is director of Historical Preservation Programs for the German Village Society.