Our lovely Teammate Carola is a native from Germany. Her family moved to California more than 12 years ago. Today, she will share with us her family tradition for this special holiday season. Please sit back and enjoy her story!
“In Germany we celebrate the time of Advent. Most families have an advent wreath, and each Advent Sunday one more candle gets lit until there are four candles on the 4th of Advent.
We also use much of our Christmas decoration during Advent. The little choir singers and the other advent decoration [are] a very traditional decoration. They are made in the Eastern part of Germany , they are all handmade.
The little black choir singers (Kurrendesänger) have been in my family since the early 60’s. We received them when the East was the GDR, and as you can see from the little cracks they were very loved. The cinnamon stars are a traditional and popular Christmas cookie in Germany ; my daughter and I still bake them every Christmas.
[In Germany,] our “big day” is not Christmas Day (and we even have two of them!) but Christmas Eve – Heilig Abend (Holy Eve) as it is called. It usually starts out hectic, often with the last big shopping, because all of the stores and supermarkets will be closed for the following two days. But around 2:00pm the shops (including the grocery stores) close and by 3:00pm at the latest a magical silence covers the entire country like a beautiful veil.
The ideal December 24th brings snow in the afternoon and turns the world into a winter wonderland by the time the first church bells start to ring. On Christmas Eve all the bells are ringing, from the smallest, highest pitch to the biggest one with the deepest, loudest sound.
It’s a concert of bells that resounds through the silence, calling for mass. Christmas services start in the later afternoon, the first ones mainly for smaller children, showing nativity plays and involving the kids. Later in the evening follow the more “grown-up” services with meaningful sermons and the old German Christmas carols sung by the congregation. Everybody knows these songs and since the churches are always packed on Christmas Eve it is a strong and joyful singing.
After church it’s back home – and waiting for Christkind (Christ Child). Yes – it often is not Santa coming through the chimney (there are not that many houses with a fireplace anyway) but Christkind.
When I was a child I always envisioned Christkind with golden curly hair and a flowing white dress, an angelic smile on its face. It would place the presents in “die gute Stube” (“the good room” = living room) and magically disappear, unseen by anyone. The children are called in and they stand in awe looking at the Christmas tree – that was brought in and decorated only the day before (or even in the morning) and very often carries real candles on its branches. I have always loved the real candles, it smells differently and the whole atmosphere is – yes, magical. After singing a few Christmas carols everybody opens their presents accompanied by Christmas music on the radio.
And if you’re still awake or missed the afternoon/evening service you can go to midnight mass – always my favorite Christmas service. A huge tree is lit (some with real candles – we live dangerously in Germany!), the atmosphere is festive and peaceful. ”
It is our “Silent Night, Holy Night”.
Many thanks to Carola from Carola Bartz for sharing her family’s Christmas tradition with us! It’s always fun to learn how our favorite holiday is celebrated in other parts of the world. Such a delightful tradition and a story to share with the little ones as well.
Please send some love to our fellow teammie and visit Carola’s shop at :