My friend Carmen is my guest today. She lives in Germany and will give us a different perspective of how she celebrates the holidays.
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?
Yes, it’s the greatest family meeting ever – the whole family comes together at this time – more than at other feasts.
(We even remember family members who are no longer with us: the cemetery is adorned with candlelight everywhere at that time.)
2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?
No – I always met with my best friends or family at least.
3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?
Yes I have every year ! Because the traditional Christmas dinners are not good for the figure.
My favourite non–traditional Christmas dinner is: Mixed Grill (Beef goulash – pieces; onion slices; colourful sweet pepper; and strips of bacon alternatively put on skewers) heated in the oven under the grill served together with an american barbecue sauce or tomato paste on top of it and french fries.
Or otherwise a Hungarian goulash with “Spätzle,” or a very good piece of beef with herb butter on it together with french fries or baked potato.
Before this there will be a healthy salad.
And we must not forget a sweet dessert after that. Maybe a kind of cinnamon vanilla ice cream, or an iced coffee together with this, or cinnamon stars.
Everything served on bone china and a festive decorated tablecloth with candlelight.
We like to pick nuts and make a liqueur from the biggest ones.
4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?
I wonder if the gifted person really likes this? It is never easy to make a gift to persons who need only money, but you want to give a personal gift at that time. Something that enchants even older persons. And I often noticed later, that especially these gifts are the ones where I was the most wrong.
5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?
Sleigh riding through the snowy forest on a horse-drawn sleigh with a lantern on the carriage near the Tegernsee and a torch-lit walk through the snowy mountain, followed by Bavarian shaking music and Christmas poems in a wood-heated festively decorated cabin.
6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?
I only use stockings at Christmas or St. Nicholas Day when the heating doesn’t work, or when I have a cold ha ha….
I have only an Advent decoration in the form of embroidered socks made in Russia.
For St. Nicholas Day, on the evening before the 6th of December, children place boots in front of their door. The next morning they will be filled up with sweet treats or if the children have not been good perhaps it could be a rod in it, too. You can buy everywhere little red plastic boots (like the boots of Santa Claus) filled with sweet treats.
Not to forget, before Christmas we have a Christmas wreath with four candles – we light one after the other every Sunday in December before Christmas.
And we have a calendar with 24 little doors to open from the first of December with little chocolate goodies in it for children, the housewife (for her nerves ha ha…) or the pet, or very modern: filled with beer bottles for men.
I noticed these days. I have a re-fillable calendar for our pet – every day he gets a Frolics (treat) and on the 24th some more, and he demands that with shiny eyes every morning.
7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?
A brunch for two in a Noble Hotel; or an evening in a dialectical or folk-theatre, a short trip together with our dog.
8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?
An egg cup, deodorant, and a electric garage door opener.
9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?
I put it into an invisible corner and later on I throw it away. Or if it was very expensive – I try to change it or to get the money from it to buy something more useful.
10. What would you change about Christmas?
It becomes too commercial from year to year. Already in August the competition begins at the supermarkets to sell their goods for it. The contemplation is too short in my opinion – it’s now only the pre-Christmas stress.
11. What would you keep the same if you could?
The time before Christmas is the best time with all the electric or candle lights – this has something mystical, like in fairy tales. The people are altogether more friendly and helpful; the preparations before the great feast, the anticipation, the sweet pastries everywhere and anywhere slightly different.
To see all the packages under the Christmas tree before they are opened – I like this.
The tradition to go very well dressed to church and celebrate there with other people before the Christmas meal, and distribution of the Christmas presents.
12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?
Silent Night, or O Christmas Tree, Daughter of Zion – we always sing that in the church at Christmas.
Or Pop Music of Bryan Adams, Simon and Garfunkel, or modern Christmas singers of England and America – I like to put on the radio at this time.
13. What do you like best about Christmas?
Especially it is a feast for little children – we all like their bright eyes when they see their gifts for the first time. And the candlelight and festive mood together with darkness and all the pretty light-decorated trees and houses and not to forget the Xmas markets in the cities with their special smell of mulled-wine and their sweet treats.
14. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?
At Christmas every year you notice that the years pass by quicker when you get older and you always think then, “Another year gone already.”
A Christmas without snow is not as beautiful as a Christmas with snow.
And after Christmas everybody waits already for New Year’s Eve to have a party and after that the new year begins again.
At New Year’s we always have a traditional fondue feast together with good friends.
My grand daughter has an advent calendar with the 24 doors. It’s very hard for her to wait for each morning to open the next door.
If it involves chocolate it will never go out of style.
Yes it is a very good Tradition for Children, to make the time pass more quickly before xmas and learn cheerfully to be more patient in waiting.
I’m impressed by those calendars, especially for the pets ;)!
Yes – we fill up every year a calendar with 24 little fabric bags with Frolics and special treats for our pet and he enjoys this very much.
Carmen, you have made me very nostalgic for the Christmases of my childhood, especially the ones we spent at Oma’s in Luedenscheid. She always sent advent calendars to us in England, they were part of Christmas, sadly hers never had chocolate in. Lovely post and thank you for sharing.
I was interested in another tradition of the 19th century too. It was:
at Xmas different sweet insects or birds were carefully wrapped and sent to family members. They have been shaped out of honey and fruits (for example berries and chocolate) and then carefully wrapped and sent to family members. The family members then hang it on the Xmas tree on the 24th of December. I have read this in a book by
Theodor Storm. In my childhood we hung chocolate circles decorated with colorful nonpareils on the tree such as colorful pine cones from chocolate, and colorful little thin chocolate platelets bound together.