Thursday, December 2, 2010

German Christmas Tradition

I've been in the U.S. since 1993 but every Christmas I find myself reminiscing over the holidays back home. The Christmas Market with Gluehwein und Lebkuchen... geschenke fuer alle... so I decided that the next we weeks I will share tidpits of German Christmas Tradition... starting with Advent..

Advent, Advent ...ein Lichtlein brennt
erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier
dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.

 It's one of those things that as children we new that the first advent meant St. Nicholas and Christmas would be coming. The German Christmas season officially begins with the first Sunday of Advent. It's the time for baking holiday cookies... and Stollen, the oldest known German Christmas treat. Stollen...its hard to explain..its not fruit cake.. its so much more.. while it does carry fruit bits.. it doesn't even compare... 

Then comes the  Advent wreath (Adventskranz) which has four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The time is spend with the family reading Christmas stories, reciting music... I used to play the recorder and keyboard and would practice Christmas songs. We'd eat the cookies we had backed.. 

According to Vistawide.com (2010), "the Advent wreath has been attributed religious and elemental significance. The tradition of a ring of light existed among the Germanic tribes many centuries before the celebration of Advent. It is believed that fewer candles were lit with each progressive lighting to represent the shortening of the days until the solstice, at which time the Julfest celebrated the return of light."

We'd also have our "Advent calendar (Adventskalender) which is a German invention that was originally designed to involve children in the festivities leading up to Christmas. It's a calendars are usually made of cardboard and have 24 small windows or flaps, one of which is opened on each day leading up to Christmas" (Vistawide.com, 2010)

 One a side note... growing up in Germany.. we celebrated Christmas Eve - not Christmas Morning.. some thing that I still do for my children and for traditional purposes I suppose. In a way it works out.. my kids get to have Christmas with me Christmas Eve.. while having Christmas with their dad Christmas morning.. 

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