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"Frohe Weihnachten" A German Christmas



I am the girl who used to debate heatedly about anything, but especially about Christmas. I had never kept it growing up and I couldn't fathom how anyone could be so naive to celebrate a pagan holiday in the name of Christianity. Not to mention the fact that it's a Catholic holiday (sorry to all my Catholic friends, but I was brought up in the sort of protestant movement where Catholicism was viewed as almost equal to paganism).

Never would I have imagined I'd be writing a post about a Christmas I partook of.

To be fair, I still don't like Christmas, and still plan to write a post and make a video explaining just why.

For now, let's forget theology and appreciate differing traditions.
I arrived at my new Au Pair family's home on November 25th, just in time for all the celebrations of a traditional German Bavarian Catholic family. One of the first things they did was take me to a Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt). And then to another. And another. And then to the first one again—all on different nights, of course.

The first one was probably my favorite. It was in a wood, and there were trails lit by lanterns. And all the little booths were so sweet, full of unique foods and lights and wooden things.
Smoked fish hanging
Big air balloon getting ready to lift at one Christmas Market. 
Drinking Kinder punch with the family (a juicy, hot drink)
One of the many booths
Inside one of the churches beside the Christmas Market hung this huge wreath with four lights for Advent
Before one of the Christmas Markets, we ate out at an Italien place and I thought this chandelier was just so pretty

A December evening
A December morning 
Where I like to walk sometimes
And the dog that usually goes with me
A December snow
On the first day of December the family gave out Advent "calendars" and they gave me one, too. Which I thought was so sweet. Every little box was full of something sweet and a note with a Christmas word in German and English. For fun, I posted every day on Facebook and Instagram after opening, so if you're curious about the different days go check them out over there. Otherwise here's just a small tidbit.

On the sixth of December Saint Nicholas came.

I wrote this satirical post:
Unless you're Muslim, Amish, or some other sort of person that doesn't celebrate Christmas, you've probably always wondered how St. Nicholas manages to bring every child, Christian and atheist alike, a gift in a single night. And even then you might wonder. But the honest truth is, Santa Claus doesn't. I think Santa was worried about it, too. And as a result, he visits certain countries in Europe, including parts of Germany, first on the fifth and sixth. Just to make sure he doesn't run out of time and forget someone, as ends up happening with many Americans and nearby surrounding countries. And, as the areas he visits are relatively small he has plenty of time and needn't bother with sneaking down chimneys but may actually come to some of the children and give them their gifts directly.

As my satire always does, it stirred up a bit of a debate between some of my friends. And it received no laughs. Such is the world and the people in it.

But yes, Nicholas and the Krampus came to visit the children. It was probably the most "magical" event of the entire month. The men's outfits were so very authentic and seemed to the sparkle of light and dark fire. The Krampus was deathly quiet and grim, and Nicholas spoke so nicely, and readout of a golden book to the children telling them their good deeds and their naughty deeds and told them how to improve, then left them all with a gunny sack of gifts, candy, and peanuts.

I was given the flower pictured above.
The baby and I after a bunch of cleaning ... I mean, he does help.
The closer we got to the 25th and the emptier the advent calendars grew the crazier the house became with preparations. The mother of the family made many, many Plätzchen (cookies). One day we decorated a bunch of them with sprinkles and sugar. 

Of course, I had to do my own little secret protest of Christmas and put a unicorn on top of a Christmas tree. If you don't think it's funny, scroll on. It's not up for debate ;p 
One night I made dinner for the kids. I told the parents the day before what I needed for ingredients.

"I think you have everything except apples and hamburger meat."

"Ok. But are they really good together!?" the father asked, cautiously horrified.

I laughed so hard, then explained I was making apple dumplings with hamburgers on the side. Not together.
I made many cinnamon rolls while here. Pasteurization and most preservatives are illegal in Germany so things like meat, cream cheese, and other such products don't last as long. The first batch of rolls I made were cream cheese rolls. And everyone got sick before they could eat them, and by the time they were better the rolls were spoiled ;/ So I made them again, though without cream cheese.
Chocolate zucchini raspberry bread in a nice heavy clay pan.
Some of the Plätzchen the mother made
In Germany, they celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th. First we went to a service (first picture of this post). It was so lovely, with music and service. Children wearing medieval crusade-style clothing put on a musical play of the nativity, all singing with some reading from an adult. It was probably the neatest Christmas performance I'd ever seen. Then everyone in the church held hands as they prayed. And they closed the night by shutting off all lights and singing Stille Nacht (Silent Night). 

At home we had a fun dinner called Raclette, a french dish, I believe. Grills were on the table and we had bowls of cut meat, vegetables, corn, cheese, and other things that we grilled as we wanted. After that, we sang German hymns, then went upstairs. 

No one had seen the tree yet, as that had been put up the day before. And the children were told that the Christkind (baby Yeshua) had brought the gifts. It was very pretty, all so sparkling and pretty. Gifts were exchanged, and I was put (voluntarily) to work helping kids open up their presents. Then I pulled out my embroidery, and we sat visiting and eating Plätzchen and drinking. 
I spent most of December knitting all of this as presents for the family. I finished just in time, adding the finishing touches the day of.
My breakfast on December 25th to combat all the junk food. 
The morning was very easy and laid back. In the afternoon, family came over and we dipped fruit in a chocolate fountain. 

The next day more family met up at a German restaurant (I had fish and grilled vegetables). Then we went to another family's house for cake and more Plätzchen and conversations. 

I mostly just observed and listened and tried to understand what I could. Sometimes I participated in the conversation when I understood enough. But mostly I was "there for the food and to look pretty" haha. 

All in all, it was a very fun month. But now I'm excited to see what German Bavaria is like once Christmas is over. 
What my Au Pair gave me from "baby Jesus": a book of knitted sock patterns, a sweet note, and a voucher for a yarn shop. I just recently walked a little over a kilometer to the yarn shop, and spent the voucher for the things in the the top left corner.

Note: Christmas doesn't end in Germany until like the second week of January. And they leave up the Christmas tree until February. And they had many more celebrations and socials after the fact. So, Christmas is huge in Catholic Germany ;D 

Comments

  1. Wow! I recognize many of the traditions - like St. Nicholas, the Advent Calendars, the wreaths, the lengthened Christmas season. It was interesting to see your perspective on them - and how the Germans celebrate them!

    *squeaks* They don't pasteurize over there?? I can understand getting rid of the preservatives, but pasteurization is not really a preservative as it is a food safety measure. But that's a debate for another day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely been fun and interesting for me, too.

      I just correct myself. They actually do pasteurize milk here, though you can also by raw milk. And their pasteurized milk has the cream on top (usually from what I've seen) and no preservatives.

      I grew up on raw milk and can't hardly stand it any other way 😂

      Delete
    2. Oh in other words, it's not homogenized like ours is. That's different. *Phew* Much as I like the idea of raw milk, I know of way too many instances of people getting sick from it in history.

      Delete
    3. Well I suppose you worked at a dairy so saw another side. But I grew up with people who only drank raw milk, and none of them died. But then we did take care of our cows and milk. I wouldn't trust raw milk from a commercialized dairy necessarily.

      Delete
  2. Haha I'm glad you had a merry Christmas even if you didn't intend to. ;D
    All the baking...and the traditions...and the decorations...*dies of envy* I belong in Bavaria.

    It's been forever since I read your blog, which is sad. I never get any notifications that you've posted? I'm going to subscribe again and hope that this time it takes. lol.
    But, really enjoyed all the pictures. And I'm so glad things are working out with this new family. And that place where you walk is BEAUTIFUL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always intend to have a merry time, be it Christmas or not ;)

      Bavaria is great 😍

      Wow that is so sad. If I do say so myself you've missed out on a lot of content.

      (You might have to confirm subscription, I don't know?)

      I need to go walk there again ... but these last few weeks have been cold;)

      THANKS!

      Delete
    2. Which is a most sensible philosophy to live by ;)

      Have you ever read Betsy in Spite of Herself? It reminds me of the German families Betsy visits in Milwaukee...I don't remember if they were Bavarian or not, though.

      I know!! I'm having fun binge-reading it all though haha

      (It said "You are already following this blog" and didn't give me anything else to do, so...we will see?)

      Delete
    3. I haven't read that book, but it sounds Good!

      I'm so sorry about the follow thing. I have no idea what to say as I'm totally not techy.

      Delete
  3. A few of the traditions you described - Advent wreath, Christmas not ending till Epiphany (Jan 6th) or later are - are Catholic traditions that are done pretty much everywhere! But it was cool for me to learn about the other stuff like the Christmas Markets!
    Sarah Levesque

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I figured they were common Catholic traditions, or to a degree of variation;)

      I think we actually have Christmas markets in, Amercia too. In like New York and other big areas. Several Germans told me they wanted to go to USA just for that ;b

      Delete
  4. I love Christmas because of the joy and kindness that the whole world has around that time of the year! <3 All of these celebrations sound amazing! My family celebrates a longer Christmas, too, because we just took down our tree the other day. I've heard of a German tradition of having to find a pickle on the tree, did you see that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so funny about the pickle. I don't know if that's the case here or not? The other day I was trying to explain to the kids what a pickle was and they seemed to think it was weird.

      Delete
  5. We do the advent calendar too, and I agree with Christmas being a pagan holiday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The family I used to babysit for in the States did Advent calendars, too. But I didn't realize it was decently popular to do. Yeah, not many people acknowledge that fact, though I know many more people that are starting to.

      Delete
  6. All the food looks so good. :D

    astordetective.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad you had a good time!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ah this looks so fun. Sounds like Germany knows how to celebrate Christmas!! I love how the Christkind brings the gifts on Christmas Eve, while St. Nick visits on the 6th. Such a nice way of keeping the focus on Jesus without kicking Santa out entirely. :)

    The apple dumplings-and-hamburger story is hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think the focus is on Jesus much mkre still 😂 it's still about the music, decorations, and gifts 😂 but yea, this family has fun celebrating!

      Haha I'm always happy when you find those little snippets in my posts ;)

      Delete
  9. A Christmas market sounds so fun! Love hearing how they celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! And all one needs is lots of money ;) it was so fun learning of their celebrations.

      Delete
  10. So, that's how Santa makes sure to get everyone! I always wondered! LOL, I think the satire was funny.

    This is all so fascinating and beautiful!!! Makes me want to go to Germany one Christmas just to see everything! And celebrating till the second week of January? I think that's a tradition Americans should adopt, haha.

    I don't know if you have a post like this planned (or maybe have already done one and I missed it since I'm bad at keeping up with things, lol), but I'd be interested to see a typical day in the life post, where you list what your schedule normally looks like as an Au Pair. Just out of curiosity and if you're interested in doing something like that. :)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the satire;) I think you'd have a blast in Germany! Ever consider being an Au Pair? And you know, I've been meaning to write a post about the nitty-gritty of my days ... Guess now I have to ;)

      Delete
  11. 1 - Funny satire!! It's funnier that no one laughed. When my wife was Great With Child on Christmas Eve, some of the church ladies started talking about Christmas birthdays and everyone agreed they were terrible, because people give you one gift "for your birthday AND Christmas!!" ... My wife said, "I'm pretty sure Jesus is still mad at Mary and Joseph about that." ... ... zero laughs from the church ladies. Haaaahhhhaaa!! That just makes it that much funnier.

    2 - Just as a side note, Muslims (especially American Muslims) do celebrate Christmas, and do so with alacrity. After all, they revere Jesus, call him "Messiah," proclaim that he was born of the virgin Mary, and say "peace be upon him" parenthetically whenever they mention his name. (Kind of like the Tisroc, may he live forever.) (Except not.) Anyway, yep. They revere him. He's the most-mentioned-by-name person in the Qu'ran. So celebrating his birth is kind of like Christians celebrating a holiday of Moses' birth — not really our thing, but in a country where people do it, why not.

    3 - you're in Bavaria now?!?!?! Wow!!! You must take a day trip to the magnificent monastery in Melk. And ... ... are you going to Oberammergau? We went in 2010, and are trying to figure out if we're going to make it now. You only get 7 or 8 real chances to do it, practically speaking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. I suppose it is funny that no one laughed... or sad to show so many have such a little sense of humor. And what your wife said made me laugh 😂 some church people are too uptight about their traditions.

      2. Yes, many Muslims do celebrate Christmas. I actually asked one of my Muslim friends about this and he said some do in Pakistan, too. But it's not really something that many Muslims are proud about. And they do revere Jesus, but as we revere a prophet, not as God's divine son. Maybe a better correlation is how Catholics honor their saints and martyrs with their holidays.

      3. Thanks for the suggestions! I'll be looking into them.

      And thanks for commenting!

      Delete

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