How to say Happy New Year in German before the New Year Begins

For new readers to this blog, here is the link to the Happy New Year explanation from a previous post. This is used in the spoken language –  in the four days between the end of Christmas (27 Dec) and 31 December. Since Germans have 2 1/2 days of public holidays off for Christmas, people still say ‘Frohe Weihnachten’ on the 26 Dec.

On 01 January, and for several days (or weeks) into the new year, we can greet people with ‘Ein gutes neues Jahr!’

On a greeting card, we use ‘Viele gute Wünsche zum Neuen Jahr!’

St. Barbara Twigs, a German Christmas Tradition

This year, I was able to get my Barbarazweige right on St. Barbara Day: 4 December.

Our neighbor always lets me cut off a few twigs of the same tree in his garden, and I’ve just learned  it’s actually a copper beech.

Unfortunately, he said the tree was starting to rot, and he had to trim it just before I came over. I like to recycle, so I picked my twigs right from his green waste bin.

The blossoms are doing really well, and they like the warm spot in the kitchen.

Lesson learned: In a warm kitchen, you can bring fallen twigs from almost any deciduous tree to a bloom.

You can learn more about the origin of this tradition on Gardena.

Edit: Some blossomed this very morning on 17 Dec 2018! They are supposed to come into bloom on Christmas.

German Marketeers and English Spelling

Spotted this gem at Galeria Kaufhof at the Main-Taunus-Zentrum (MTZ) today.

German marketeers should have their English spelling checked. They surely had some cocktails while concocting this. 🙂

Did you know? MTZ was also the very first shopping mall to be built in Germany (modeled after the American prototype) in 1964.

Christmas Card Greeting in the Old German Handwriting

This postcard, written in Suetterlin, dates back to a time between 1915 and 1941, when Suetterlin was widely in use.

This form of modern handwriting was introduced by the ministry to be used in offices and schools.

After I learned Latin letters in first grade, the following year (or maybe third grade), we also had to learn to write in Suetterlin style. It is very useful to know now – when browsing archives and old documents in my research.

Gesegnete Weihnacht! = Have a blessed Christmas!

Gesegnete Weihnacht by Margret Savelsberg

 

I wish all my readers a blissful year-end season, filled with bright lights and happy memories to reflect on.

“I am grateful for all the moments that I have, and I’m moving forward one step at a time to the future.”  – Park Bo-gum (박보검)

 

German Christmas: Now and Then

Christmas traditions were quite different while growing up in a northern Bavarian village in the 1960s. Marketing and consumerism have changed the spirit of Christmas since then.

First of all, we never saw any Christmas decorations before Christmas, except for the traditional advent wreath (German: der Adventskranz).

I grew up in a farming family of nine people (parents, grandmother, aunt, and five children). When we kids got in the way, we were told to go outside and play. This was especially the case in the late afternoon to early evening on Christmas Eve. I suppose we played out on the side walk, went sledding, or sneaked around the barn, looking for cats, mice, or trouble.

On Christmas Eve, our day of gift-giving, we had an early and simple dinner – most often Sauerkraut and Bratwurst (fried sausage), or potato salad with Knoblauchwurst (pork sausage seasoned with garlic). Dinner had to be simple and quick, since the older family members had to set up Christmas behind the scenes – all afternoon and up to dinner time.

We younger kids got restless sometimes, and tried to peak through the key hole into the living room. We did this in spite my mother’s warning that if we got caught peaking by the Christkind (Christchild, the angel gift-bringer), she would not bring any presents.

The story we were told was this: The Christkind, an angel-like figure, dressed in white, with long curly blonde hair, would come in flying through the open window to deliver the presents. As a matter of fact, when we finally got called in, the room felt a bit chilly. The family must have been working on overdrive to get the tree decorated, the creche set up, the presents wrapped, and dinner made. They actually had to open the window for some cooling down.

When we walked into the room, we little ones were awestruck by the shining Christmas ornaments on the tree, and real candles lighting up the tree.

Typical presents at that time for me were (at least in our family): new pajamas, a doll, or a wind-up monkey.

I remember being really proud of my shiny new pajamas. 🙂 Note the Venetian Gondola, a souvenir my oldest sister had brought back from her honeymoon to Rimini in 1968.

Christmas Eve 1971

I got this kind of wind-up monkey for Christmas 1966. It did not last very long, unfortunately. The manufacturer is not to blame, just too many busy little hands. This one I found at a flea market in Kronberg in the late 1990s, and it still works. To keep him upright for his first photo opportunity in 50 years, I had to prop him up on a glue stick. Tired little monkey.

In general back then, our Christmas tree sat there from 24 Dec – 6 January (Epiphany). Then it was time to bring this season to a close. There was no Christmas tree pick-up service at that time, and being farmers anyway, my father chopped up the tree, and we burned it in one of the two wood stoves we had in the house (kitchen and bathroom).

Nowadays, in my own German-American family, we have fused both traditions, the German and the American one.

We put up the tree and its trimmings in the first/second week of December (American). We put our Christmas cards on display (American). We celebrate Christmas on 24 Dec (German). We used to make big dinners on Christmas Eve (my American husband liked this), but this year for the first time, we will have an easy and quick one – German potato salad and wieners (German). After sirty years, sis Cherman is finally getting her vay. 🙂

By the time the second Christmas holiday (26 Dec) rolls around, I’ve had it with Christmas. We take the decorations off the Christmas tree before New Year’s Eve (American). The tree rests on the balcony until we throw it off the fourth floor balcony on pick-up day (after Epiphany), and either we, or the Hausmeister, drag it to the side of the road.

Our Christmas tree with some ornaments as old as our marriage certificate (close to 30 years).

Before I forget – the Christkind brings the presents in central and southern Germany. Up in northern Germany, closer in location to the original Sinterklaas version (from the Netherlands) of Santa, there are families who tell stories of the Weihnachtsmann bringing the gifts.

Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!

Happy Holidays! Schöne Feiertage!

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