Diva Musing: Let’s Holiday in Germany…

Christmas in Germany

A big part of the Christmas celebrations in Germany is Advent. Several different types of Advent calendars are used in German homes. As well as the traditional one made of card that are used in many countries, there are ones made out of a wreath of Fir tree branches with 24 decorated boxes or bags hanging from it. Each box or bag has a little present in it. Another type is called a ‘Advent Kranz’ and is a ring of fir branches that has four candles on it. This is like the Advent candles that are sometimes used in Churches. One candle is lit at the beginning of each week in Advent.

Christmas Trees are very important in Germany. They were first used in Germany during the late Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the mother of the family. The Christmas tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas Eve. In some parts of Germany, during the evening, the family would read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and Stille Nacht (Slient Night).

Sometimes wooden frames, covered with colored plastic sheets and with electric candles inside, are put in windows to make the house look pretty from the outside.

Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families.

In German Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Frohe Weihnachten’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Christmas Day is called “Erste Feiertag” (‘first celebration’) and the 26th December is known as “Zweite Feiertag” (‘second celebration’) and also “Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag” which translates as Boxing Day (although it doesn’t literally mean that)!

Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold. Perhaps the most famous German decorations are glass ornaments. The glass ornaments were originally hand blown glass and were imported in the USA in 1880s by the Woolworth stores. The legend of the glass ‘Christmas Pickle‘ is famous in the USA, but it’s that, a legend. Most people in Germany have never heard of the Christmas Pickle!

In some parts of Germany, mainly the south east of the country, children write to the ‘das Christkind/Christkindl’ asking for presents. The letters to the Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of or during Advent.

‘das Christkind’ translates as ‘The Christ Child’ in English but Germans don’t think of the Christkind as the baby Jesus! The Christkind is often described as a young girl with ‘Christ like’ qualities. In Nürnberg a young girl is chosen every year to participate in a parade as the Christkind. She wears a long white and gold dress, has long blond curly hair and wears a gold crown and sometimes wings like an angel. This is similar to St Lucia is Sweden. (And it can seem a bit confusing calling the ‘Christ Child’, Jesus, a girl!)

The Nürnberg Christkind officially opens the Christmas market on the Friday before Advent starts. And before Christmas she has over 150 ‘official duties’ including visiting hospitals, old people’s homes and children’s nurseries! She also has to give TV interviews and visit other cities.

Santa Claus or Father Christmas (der Weihnachtsmann) brings the main Christmas presents on December 24th. You might also write a letter to Weihnachtsmann in other parts of Germany. Some people say that Santa/Father Christmas (Weihnachtsmann) brings the presents and some say it is Christkind!

As well as hoping for presents from Christkind or der Weihnachtsmann, some children also hope that ‘der Nikolaus’ will bring you some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate on the 6th December (St Nicholas’s Day). He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of children, who usually place them by their doors. He might also knock on the door and the children will have to sing a song, play a song on an instrument or tell a story to St Nicholas before he gives them their presents.

In some regions of Germany, there is a character called “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Krampus” who accompanies Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) on the 6th of December. He is big horned monster clothed in rags and carries chains. He is meant to punish the children who have been bad! He is usually the one who scares the little children. In other parts of Germany, St. Nicholas is followed by a small person called “Schwarzer Peter” (Black Peter) who carries a small whip. Black Peter also accompanies St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas in The Netherlands. In north west Germany Santa is joined by Belsnickel a man dressed all in fur. Although ‘der Nikolaus’ visits in December, he’s not officially part of Christmas!

At small work places and school parties, secret presents are often exchanged. A door is opened just wide enough for small presents to be thrown into the room. The presents are then passed around among the people until each person has the correct present! It is thought to be bad luck to find out who sent each present.

Another tradition is the Sternsinger (or star singers) who go from house to house, sing a song and collect money for charity (this is a predominantly Catholic tradition). The singers are normally four children, three who dress up like the Wise men and one carries a star on a stick as a symbol for the Star of Bethlehem. When they’re finished singing, they write a signature with chalk over the door of the house. The sign is written in a special way, so 2019 would be: 20*C*M*B*19. It is considered to be bad luck to wash the sign away – it has to fade by itself. It has usually faded by the 6th of January (Epiphany). The Sternsingers visit houses between December 27th and January 6th.

https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/germany.shtml

Diva Musing: British Holiday Perspective….

British Holidays

Many American Christmas traditions trace back to England, like the main staples of decorating your home, putting up a tree, exchanging presents and having a mid-day dinner. Why not British it up a bit more this year? 

1. Letters
It is very common for school age children to write letters to Santa Claus. But, the Brits take it a step further and burn the letters in the fireplace so the ashes fly up the chimney and Father Christmas can read the smoke. If, like many, you don’t have a fireplace/chimney … surely you can find alternative means. Just be safe!

2. Stockings
Rather than hanging stockings above the fireplace, British children hang them at the end of their bed hoping they will be filled by Christmas morning. That would be a nice surprise to wake up to. At the same time it might be difficult for “Santa” to fill without waking the wee ones.

3. Crackers
The 
cracker is a paper tube, covered in foil, twisted at both ends. It’s shaped like a large sweet with hidden treasures inside. Each person crosses their arms, using their right hand to hold their cracker, and pulling their neighbor’s cracker with their left. POP! The cracker will make a bit of a  bang with the contents spilling out which usually is a joke to be read at the dinner table, a small trinket and a paper crown.

4. Crown
Everyone is a king on Christmas! The paper crowns are made of tissue paper and unfold into an actual crown. Adults and children alike don the crown making it a colorful sight. The paper hat was added to the crackers in the early 1900s and the tradition has carried on.

5. Mid-Day Dinner
Christmas dinner is similar to that of the U.S. with a roast turkey, goose or chicken and trimmings. But, there are some specialty items that aren’t as common such as parsnips which are a root vegetable similar to a carrot. It’s a familiar taste but it’s fun to incorporate a new veggie to the table. Brits love their pudding but Yorkshire Pudding isn’t pudding-pudding like you would think. It’s more like a flakey, deflated biscuit with the center just waiting to hold your gravy. Does a trifle sound familiar? Oh boy, Rachel on Friends tried to make a traditional English trifle but the recipe pages stuck together and she mixed together a trifle with sheperd’s pie. It is indeed a layered cake but strictly no beef.

6. Wassail
Wassa-what? Wassail literally means “good health” or to “be healthy” and in this case is a hot, mulled drink. There are different ways to serve it like a hot cider but it may also be made with a base of wine. It was originally topped with slices of toast as sops (piece of bread to soak up the liquid.) Mmm, wonder why wine drenched bread went out of style? Well, Brits may question Americans’ craving for eggnog over the holidays.

7. Royal Christmas Message
The tradition of sending out a Christmas Message to the public began in 1932 with George V. Current day the Queen gives a speech on Christmas Day at 3pm in England. You can gather around the tele with your loved ones and watch it on BBC America … that’s about prime Christmas present opening time on this end with the time difference. BBCA will air it later in the day to allow family time. Check your listings for exact times as the day approaches.

8. Tea
Christmas tea usually rolls around 6pm and it is round two of a sit down with family and treats. Pretty much, any proper English event involves tea. Mince pies or sausage rolls might accompany the tea party. Rather than breaking out the Lipton, which would be spat at by any visiting Brit, we suggest PG Tips that originated in the UK in the 1930s. If you can’t find them at a local shop you can do a quickie order from Amazon.com.

9. Boxing Day
Boxing Day follows Christmas day and is a nationally recognized holiday in the UK, also called a bank holiday. It was originally the day for servants and tradesman to receive presents from their employers but it’s now basically a big shopping day for Brits. It’s similar to Black Friday in the U.S. Your boss may wonder why you didn’t go into the office as it’s not an official holiday in the U.S. Maybe celebrate this one after work and get your shop on?

10. Next Year
Brits say you need to take your tree and decorations down within 12 days of Christmas or you’ll have bad luck for the next year. Don’t be that house on the street with blinking lights that go on through Valentine’s Day! Get that stuff down and get on with the New Year!

http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2012/12/british-up-your-christmas-holiday

Diva Musing: Reason for the Season…

We thought we’d post various thoughts on the holiday perspective from different people’s thoughts.  Here is our first for the season….

The Real Reason for the Season
Learning the True Values of Christmas

By Dale A. RobbinsWinter in the farmlands of Indiana can sometimes be snowy and bitterly cold. This Christmas eve was no exception. I was only 5 years old, but I remember it well. It was my first recollection of the cherished holiday.

A freshly cut pine tree sat in front room of the small farmhouse, decorated with popcorn strings and other homemade ornaments. But beneath the tree was a conspicuous absence. There were no presents. It had been a difficult year for my dad — a farmer by day, and a factory worker by night. Time and money were both in short supply.

Mother was especially discouraged that Christmas eve had arrived without any gifts for her three children. She was in tears when dad got home from work that night. But he brought encouraging news. His boss had given him an unexpected Christmas bonus.

Though the hour was late, my parents were determined to find a way to provide Christmas for the kids. Dad phoned the owner of the dime store in our small, nearby town and explained his situation. In a gesture that would be unheard of today, the merchant actually arose from bed and drove through the drifting snow to meet dad at the store.

All of us were still up when dad got back sometime after midnight. None of the presents were gift wrapped, but it really didn’t matter. By now it was Christmas morning, and we were anxious to see what papa Santa had brought us. Besides candy and other things, he had dolls for my two older sisters, cap firing six shooters for me, and a new lamp for mom. We kids sat around the Christmas tree, playing and giggling. What had seemed to be a grim Christmas eve hours earlier, was now long forgotten.

Although just a little boy, this experience gave me several lasting impressions about Christmas. For one thing, though nothing was said, I figured it out by myself — this business about Santa Claus was apparently make-believe. If there was a Santa, his real name was Daddy.

But more significantly, this loving act by my father taught me something about the real values of Christmas. For many years afterward, I would often reflect upon my father’s love that inspired him to venture out into the blizzardy night, returning with presents for us, yet nothing for himself. I could still vividly remember his own happiness as he sat nearby, watching as his family enjoyed their toys and gifts.

At this early age, I learned the profound truth that Christmas is really about the joy of giving, not merely receiving. Christmas was created by a loving Heavenly Father, who so loved the world, that He gave us the most noble and sacrificial of all gifts. He sent His own Son, in the form of a babe, gift wrapped in a humble manger, who would give His life as an atonement for our sins.

The real spirit of Christmas is giving, loving, caring and serving — just as our loving Father in Heaven has provided to us. So let each of us hold dear these values to our hearts, and use this season as an opportunity to give blessing to others, and to share the love of Christ with our friends and family — for Jesus is the reason for the season.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

 In loving memory of my dad, Myron F. Robbins

Diva Rambling: Holiday Crazy….

As the madness of the holidays sets in I found this note to gently remind us to stay grounded in all the holiday insanity.  I can’t find my note on who wrote this but I thank them for this gentle reminder…Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Crazy People

If you think people are crazy, are you one of them? If you think you are not one of them, someone else might think that you are crazy!

In this world there is all types of craziness. If an alien comes to this planet and goes to a soccer stadium, he would find it to be an absolutely crazy place! He will not be able to understand why the 11 players are chasing one ball and are trying to get the ball into the net, and why are there 11 others on the other side stopping them, that too for one little ball. He would say, ‘Why are they all fighting over a ball?’

An alien would say, ‘Let me give 22 balls to 22 players. Let them kick their balls and keep them in the net!’

If their goal is to put the ball in the net, he would say, ‘Okay, let us all go and keep it there.’ He will fail to understand why people are kicking the ball and falling over each other and 50,000 people around are clapping and crying and howling!

It sounds absolutely crazy!

Like that there are many such crazy things in the world. I used to find English language very crazy. You write, ‘know’ and pronounce it as ‘no’. I would say, ‘know!’ (pronouncing it with the k sound) You should speak the way you write and read. You write ‘knowledge’ and put a ‘k’, I would say, ‘knowledge’ (pronouncing with the k sound). Everyone found it absolutely crazy.

My mother tongue is such that the way we write is the same as what we speak. In English, several letters become silent and you don’t know which is silent and which is not silent. It was so difficult. I had to write in English and then write in Kannada below that. Once my class teacher looked at my notebook and asked me, ‘What are you writing? It is wrong’.

There is no match between speaking and writing. You say something and you write something else.

Like that there are different crazes in the world. Everything is a craze and people are crazy for different things. Some are crazy about games, some for politics, some for money.

Do you know what happened in China? On New Years, in Shanghai, somebody threw fake currency from the top of a tower and 35 people died in a stampede. Is this not crazy,? People going to get free money falling from some building onto the street? There is no limit for being crazy. At least here it is good crazy! Some people are crazy about mediation and some are crazy about singing. It is okay! ‘Accept people as they are’. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Why did I put this point! I have been trapped by it!’ I have never said anything in my life which I have not practiced, so since I have said this, I have to practice it and I have been practicing, carrying on and accepting all sorts of craziness. I tell you, there is hope! I am still happy!

Diva Ranting: But I Meant To….

…“I truly meant to behave but there were just too many other great options.” T-Shirt Philosophy

Welcome to my world. Someone once sent me a book “When You Can Walk On Water Take The Boat.”

They fell into my friends philosophy that I am one of the most predictably unpredictable people he had ever met. Choosing you own “ignore the box” options does not mean you really are misbehaving…(only to little uncreative minds) maybe. But who give a hoot. God gave us each incredible gifts many never use because they are afraid of being labeled by the world of Judgey Smurfs, as different. Really??? Gifts you have and do not share are sad to a world that needs you. No one is anything like you. You were specifically programmed by the Universe to be YOU!!! Not some coloring book numb nuts. Don’t waste your precious gifts. My daughter is a comic and I tell her all the time her gift to the world is to make people laugh. What a gift! What is your gift? Share it with our world today. We love you just the way you are. Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Diva Ranting: That little thing….

You know that little thing inside your head that keeps you from saying things you shouldn’t? Yeah, I don’t have one of those. “ T-Shirt Philosophy
I think you know by now if you’ve been around the Crones for any length of time we tend to tell it and not need to sell it. Getting older and wiser is very freeing. I never want to say anything to anyone that intentionally insult or hurts them. However, bullies, biatches, parvenus, just all around mean spirited people….you do not want to take us on. We will knit your britches to your ass and still have time to cook dinner. Standing ground is not so fearful once you’ve practiced it a bit. The “better thans” noted above are not use to bravery. Once you stand ground they are not as interested in taking you down. They’ll move on to some other innocent they can mow down with impunity. Let them know you are not one of them. Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Diva Musing: Insults….

Insults
“In order to insult me I must first value your opinion…Nice Try Though…” T-Shirt Philosophy 
Ever have one of those days? I once had a popular mean girl in high school come in and confront me that I said something negative about her. I suspect someone used my name because they knew I wouldn’t give a hoot what she thought. I looked at her and said…”Interesting that you think I would waste my precious free time giving you a second thought! Not going to happen; leave. The entire class stood up and gave me a standing ovation. Everyone was tired of her stuff just too afraid to stand ground. She turned and huffed away. The teacher even gave me extra credit on my exam.
Bullies and manipulators will always be around. Just know you can stand your ground and fight the fight without necessarily landing a physical blow. Be Brave. Namaste, The Queen Cronista…