Write a Letter to Christkind in Germany

If you believe in the Christkind, then send your letter to Himmelpforten, a small town west of Hamburg in the district of Stade in Lower Saxony.

You may start  your letter with ‘Dear Christkind’ or ‘Dear Santa’ (much less common). Here in Germany (mostly the central and southern part) as well as Austria, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Slovakia and Switzerland, children get their presents from the Christkind on Christmas Eve. The word Christkind translates to Christ Child. If you write from northern Germany, you might address your letter to the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
 

Frohe Weihnachten!

The post office in Himmelpforten, which translates to Heaven’s Gates, will process your wish list. I don’t know if you get anything from your list, this depends on whether you’ve been good or bad. 🙂
The post office lets you address your letter to either one of them, both the Christkind and the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
An das Christkind
21709 Himmelpforten
But the address in itself, says: To the Christkind
No worries, if you don’t know German. Most Germans, placed in a professional setting, can handle letters written in English too.
In German, children write a Wunschzettel (wish list) to the Christkind (or Weihnachtsmann), which is a much more direct statement than just ‘writing a letter’ to Santa.

Remembering Willy Brandt and the East-West Conflict

Yesterday afternoon, our work group Arbeitskreis Camp King was visited by a special guest speaker, Günther Vieser, to talk of the time, when he was working side by side with the former chancellor, Willy Brandt, from 1979 – 1982. At that time, Mr. Vieser was Brandt’s advisor, when he was Chairman of the Social Democrats.

One of the topics in question was of how much former chancellor Brandt’s doings contributed to solving the East-West conflict versus Chancellor Kohl, who reigned at the time, when the wall came down. Another question was what it was like to work with him on a professional and personal level. Of course, the spy Guillaume from the East German State was also mentioned and it was questioned why he chose Oberursel as his first place of residence in the West. For several months, Guillaume had rented an apartment downtown Oberursel, at the Homm Kreisel. In 1974, Chancellor Brandt resigned over the espionage scandal.

Mr. Vieser’s informative talk lasted close to two hours and we not only got a refresher course in modern history, but also heard some personal stories and tidbits.

After the talk, one of the visitors approached me. She said she remembers one time Willy Brandt came on an official visit to Oberursel. At that time, she was working for the Deutsche Rote Kreuz (DRK) (German Red Cross), and she confirmed how grown up women acted like teenagers as soon as Brandt showed up, with women screaming and occasionally fainting during his visit.

On his other visits to Oberursel, he would also meet with other young politicians of that time: Jürgen Habermas, Oskar Negt, and Joschka Fischer. They would stay at the former Villa Gans, which the state of Hessen had turned over to the Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) in commemoration after WWII – as a place for Völkerverständigung und des Aufbaus der Demokratie (international relations and founding democracy).

I like the idea, that the beginning of democracy in modern Germany started with parties on a garden patio.

That same place is now the Dorint Hotel Frankfurt/Oberursel (140 rooms, including 15 suites).

Announcement

Announcement

Günther Viesner presentation about his work with Willy Brandt

Günther Vieser talked about his work life with Willy Brandt

Mayor Brum also had a few welcoming words for the guest speaker.

Mayor Brum of Oberursel

Mayor Brum of Oberursel

Special thanks to Sylvia Struck, who is in charge of our ‘Work Group Camp King’, for putting together this event.

German Lesson: die Wickelkommode

My niece is about to have her first child and so my sister informed me that she could use a money present to buy the baby’s furniture. Among the needed items listed is a Wickelkommode (baby dressing table or diaper changing table). This triggered some memories for an item I never had, a Wickelkommode.

I have raised two children and didn’t need one. I guess the reason being was that our first child was born in Japan and we occupied a tiny teachers housing flat, with tatami mat rooms. First of all, these apartments are not equipped to room a baby changing table. Also, the traditional Japanese mom changes her baby’s diaper on the tatami floor, which I did too.

And one thing I never had to worry about was the baby rolling off the dresser.

A few years later, when we came to Germany and we had our second child, I continued changing the baby’s diaper on the floor, just the way I had learned it in Japan and I had gotten very used to it as well.

A Wickelkommode, in my viewpoint, is a very commercial item. It is much more comfortable being on the floor with the baby, there is plenty of room to put items aside, it is more relaxing, and does not cost a cent.

 

A German Christmas Tradition – Barbarazweige

While growing up in a small village in northern Bavaria, I always saw my mom putting Barbarazweige on top of the kitchen cabinet in early December. These otherwise brown barren twigs would come into full bloom by Christmas.

Traditionally, these twigs are cut on 4 December, also known as St. Barbara Day (Catholic church). After cutting, they should experience a slight frost by either putting them in the fridge or leaving them outside overnight. Then put them in warm water for the first night. This will cause them to bloom later as the change from frosty temperature to a warm room makes it seem like spring is coming.

After the first night of warm water, fresh cold water should be given every three days.

Barbarazweige, a German Christmas tradition

Barbarazweige, a German Christmas tradition

Short list of trees or bush which are best:

Kirsche/cherry    Apfel/apple    Forsythien/forsythia    Haselnuss/hazelnut    Zierjohannisbeer/currant    Birke/birch   Weide/willow   Schlehe/blackthorn   Goldregen/laburnum    Ginster/broom (gorse)

Origin

This tradition is based on St. Barbara (Heilige Barbara), a shopkeeper’s daughter, who was put in jail. On her way there, her dress got caught on a cherry twig. While she was in her jail cell, she watered the little twig every day. On the day of her execution, the twig blossomed.

Blossoming Twigs bring Good Fortune

Bringing Barbarazweige to blossom is an old, but almost forgotten Christmas tradition. 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.

In the old days, a young woman would write her suitors’ names on pieces of paper and hang them onto the twigs. The one, whose twig blossomed first, should be the one chosen for marriage.

This tradition is mostly forgotten. Yesterday morning, I called my neighbor, a nice elderly woman in her late 70s, and asked her for some Barbarazweige from her garden. She said I was welcome to cut some, but she was not sure if they had such a tree or bush named Barbara. I did not bother to explain this tradition over the phone, but went right over to her garden.

I believe I have twigs from an apple tree, but we shall see.