Christmas in Germany:
Whether they are seeking the exaltation of the spirit or enjoyment of physical man, the Germans seem to get more enjoyment out of Christmas than almost any other people on earth. The German Christmas celebration lasts a full month and a half from the end of November to mid-January. This festival season is illuminated by joyous carols, colorful fairs, deep devotion to the Christ Child, playful recreations of hellish demons and a parade of seasonal foods and Christmas candies that turns the most dedicated dieter into a bloated Naschkatze--snack snatcher. And so begins this charming and informative book that examines the history of merrymaking in Germany. From the different days and celebrations (Saint Andrew's Night on November 30th through January 13th), to the decorations, songs, fairs and markets, and the special foods--especially sweet treats. This book covers it all. Of particular note, Germany is where the tradition of Christmas Trees originated...as well as the first tree ornaments...and what would become the modern day Santa. So this book (and its successor) are important to those interested in studying the various traditions and origins of Christmas. Also of note, is the Christkindlmarkt, the Christ Child market. This market or fair opens in early December and sells only Christmas-related items. I imagine it would be beautiful and overwhelming all at the same time.
Christmas in Today's Germany
This book repeats some of the information in the first book. But there is plenty that is original. It includes plenty of background information on the region of Germany--going back to Ancient times...and discussing the East/West Germany years. One thing this book offers that the other did not is a discussion of St Martin's Day on November 11. This book claims that it is a holiday that rivals St. Nicholas Day and Christmas in the hearts of German children. This holiday has its own songs, its own special meals, its own traditions. It is sometimes called Martinmas.
Laterne, LaterneAlso getting attention this time round are the advent wreath and calendar. And there is a special two-page spread on how artisans blow glass ornaments. There's also a folklore section or two on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Overall, this book was very interesting. And there are plenty of crafts and recipes included so you can make this an interactive learning experience.
Sonne, Mond und Sterne
Brenne auf, mein Licht,
Brenne auf, mein Licht
Aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.
Here’s the English translation for Laterne, Laterne…
Sun, moon and stars,
Burn, my light,
Burn, my light,
But not only the light of my dear lantern.