Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Travel the World: Christmas Part Two

Today's edition of Travel the World Wednesday takes us to Germany. The books I'm reviewing today are Christmas in Germany (1992), Christmas in Today's Germany (1996). These books are published by World Book.

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 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, Laterne

Laterne, Laterne
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…

Lantern, Lantern

Lantern, Lantern,
Sun, moon and stars,
Burn, my light,
Burn, my light,
But not only the light of my dear lantern.

Also 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.


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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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