'Muff'in Dome

Christkindlmarkt & German holiday traditions

Germany has bequeathed many Christmas traditions to Americans.

Christmas tree & L

Fir trees were first used as decoration in Germany during the Middle Ages when they would bring the only living greenery into their cold homes during the winter months to brighten things up a bit. The first Christmas tree was set up in the 15th century by bakers in a German town square with little breads and fruit for the children to be eaten on New Year’s Day.

advent calendar

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Advent calendars were first made by German Lutherans in the 19th century. Originally, they simply marked with a chalk line on the wall. Eventually, they began using paper calendars with little windows to open, and then large boxes with smaller boxes that had little treats nestled inside became part of the anticipation of Christmas Day.

first santa claus

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The image we have now of Santa Claus was illustrated by a German cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast. {Before his image was rather frightening to young children!} The jolly round man was featured in Harper’s Weekly, giving us the modern image of Santa Claus. Although it is typically the Christkind {Christ Child} who brings the gifts, he also visits little children on Christmas Eve. {Martin Luther changed this tradition in the 16th century so that Christ would be honored with having brought gifts rather than St. Nicholas.}

stille nacht

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The hymn Silent Night was composed by a German man, Franz Gruber (actually an ancestor of mine!). It is one we all love to sing come Christmastime.

nutcrackers

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And the hand-carved, wooden nutcrackers {nussnackers} that come in various shapes and sizes started in Germany. Not originally Christmas themed, they were often found in toy shops with carved toys and puzzles and given as gifts. It is not exactly known when they took on a seasonal significance but Tchaikosvky’s Nutcracker certainly had an influence. They gained in popularity in the U.S. after World War II when GIs brought them back to the States.

Zimsterne 4

And, of course, the cookies! Gingerbread, pfeffernusse, zimsterne….yum!!

 

Christmas market in Heidelberg

Come late November, Germany is dotted with Christkindlmarkts. These are quaint markets filled with artisanal shops found in town squares. You can find there a variety of glass-blown, wooden, and cloth ornaments, Christmas pyramids that spin by the heat of candles, and other delightful handmade trinkets. Scents of spiced wine and apple cider permeate the air surrounding it, as well as baked goods, such as gingerbread and stollen, all for sale at the markets.

Also, very long sausages.

huge sausage

I was privileged to attend one while I was studying abroad in Rome. It is one of my fondest memories from my semester abroad.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg castle

inside the warming hut

It was SOOOOO cold there. They had these warming huts you could jump in for a few minutes to get the feeling back in your fingers.

studying in Germany

And I’m so glad I chose to go rather than stay in Rome and study for Finals!! Okay, we did a little of that too in our little German gable. 😉

 

Turn Verein

The near-to-us city of Sacramento has a replica Christkindlmarkt that they hold every year at the home of the German club, the Turn Verein. We went there this past weekend to enjoy a taste of our German heritage.

They had stalls set up with many of the things you would find at a market in Germany, including baked goods, smoked sausages, gingerbread cakes, handmade nutcrackers and other Christmas gifts. It made me a bit nostalgic for the time I spent in Germany.

visit with St. NickEvelyn was fascinated by St. Nicholas. {She did a little better with him than she did with Santa last year.}

selfies

We enjoyed some of those long Nuremberger sausages for lunch while Gram and Evey worked on their selfie shots.

ceiling fan

And Daddy and Lucie checked out the cool ceiling fans.

model train

model train2

The biggest hit was the model trains they had set up in one room. They were erected by the Sacramento chapter of European Train Enthusiasts.

model train3

model train4

Evey made a stop before we left to draw a few holiday pictures with Gram and Pumpkin in the children’s room.

sticking stickers

look at what I made!

Frohe Weihnachten!

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