German Christmas Tradition: St. Barbara’s Blossoming Twigs

Following my mom’s custom of cutting twigs on St. Barbara Day (4 Dec), I get apple twigs from our neighbor’s garden. With permission, that is. And tradition has it that I’m usually a couple of days late with the cutting.

My mom’s cherry twigs would sit in a hollow space between the kitchen cabinet and the ceiling. Back then, the kitchen was the only warm place in the house, but the twigs with their tiny white blossoms would thrive. When I was a child, they looked like tiny snowflakes from my vantage point.

This year Christmas, I got a few pink apple blossoms again and it always seems like a little miracle. Blossoms in winter.

My older post tells you more about how to care for them, the custom’s origin and meaning etc.:

Barbarazweige and its first blossom

If everything is timed properly, the blossoms come to full bloom at Christmas and this means good fortune for the coming year, and shriveled ones brings back luck.

Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve

Just in case some of you are feeling a bit down or irritable, blame it on today’s Blue Moon. The year 2009 will end in an unusual way by having a second full moon termed Blue Moon tonight (the last one was on 2 Dec).

Astrophysicists from the Goethe University in Frankfurt stated that this phenomenon of having a full moon twice in one month only happens every two to three years. In addition,  Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve happens only once every 19 years.

Astrologists point to this constellation as a possible cause for tension, aggressive behavior,  and negligence, which may lead to depression, arguments, and accidents.

On the other hand, you may also view tonight’s Blue Moon as a good-luck charm and turn it into something positive. Remember Our fate is not only determined by what happens to us, but how we react on it.

Good luck charms for the New Year

If you are in Germany, you will hear and probably have heard Germans telling you Einen guten Beschluss! (A good closure!) or Einen guten Rutsch! (A good slide). This is only said before New Year’s Day. As of tomorrow the greeting is Ein gutes Neues Jahr!

Lastly I want to share my childhood parish priest’s words, written by him into my poetry book many years ago.

Schaue mutig vorwärts, gläubig aufwärts und dankbar rückwarts. (Look courageously forward, faithfully upward, and gratefully backward)

This is how I feel: I hope for good and interesting things to come, I want to remember to use my talents wisely, and start each day giving thanks.

Einen guten Beschluss!!

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