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.

Sequoia Trees in the Oberursel Forest

There are two Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) near the Frankfurter Forsthaus located in the Oberursel forest.

If you live in the Oberursel area, enter the Rosengärtchen at the U-Bahn station An der Waldlust. Walking downhill a bit, you’ll soon see a sign pointing you to the Tierheim (animal shelter). Follow this road into the woods, pass the Tierheim, and you will soon come to and intersection and see the trees on the left side. Walking time: 20 – 25 minutes

These trees were planted around 1860. One of our international friends asked me if I knew who planted them. As of now, I have only learned that 1860 was a significant year in Europe’s history.

As these tree have been planted close to the Frankfurter Forsthaus in the Oberursel forest (closer to Oberstedten and Bad Homburg), I suppose it might have something to do with all the important people and events in Bad Homburg.

Certain events in 1960:

* Bad Homburg got connected to Frankfurt by rail.

* Emporer Wilhelm II. started using the Bad Homburg castle as his summer residence on a yearly basis.

* The Bad Homburger Kurverein was founded.

* In the year of 1860 alone, there were  275 000 Kurgäste (spa visitors) in Bad Homburg.

* The Gotische Haus (Gothic House) bordering the city limits of Bad Homburg came into possession of the  forest landgraviate( landgräfliche Forstverwaltung).

Sequoia sign in Oberursel Forest

Sequoia sign in Oberursel Forest

Oberursel Forest

Oberursel Forest

Sequoia cone and seeds

Sequoia cone and seeds

Looking for information about 1860 Deutschland, there are about 9,560,000 results. Searching for 1860 Bad Homburg, the net comes up with 126,000 results.

 Who planted these two Sequoia trees? If you know, feel free to share it here with us.

 

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.: https://www.pension-sprachschule.de/anything-german/a-german-christmas-tradition-barbarazweige/

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.

Nikolaus in Germany and the American Santa

Today, 6 December, is Nikolaustag. This is when children leave their boots outside the front door, and Nikolaus fills them with treats. As traditions vary throughout Germany, in northern Bavaria, where I grew up, we put our boots outside on the evening of 6 December.

In other areas (and other family traditions), boots are put outside on the evening of 5 December, with Nikolaus stopping by throughout the night to fill up the boots. Forget the reindeer, his transportation is unknown.

Nikolaus versus Santa

Santa versus Nikolaus

Santa was the invention of a German immigrant to the U.S.A. The cartoonist, Thomas Nast, was commissioned to design a comic figure for an American magazine. From there, Coca Cola picked up the same image and started using it in its commercials. That’s how Santa was born.

Saint Nikolaus himself was a bishop from Myra (Turkey), dating back to the 4th century. He is the patron saint of children, hence the gift-giving to the children, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

First Graders and Paper Cones in Germany

If you see an elementary student, holding proudly a big paper cone filled with presents, then you know it is the very first day of school here in Hesse.

Most Germans see this is a serious affair – this is when ‘Der Ernst des Lebens beginnt’ (The serious side of life begins). Some moms even cry, because they worry about their children and the ‘serious effects’ school could have on them.

On the other hand, when our international kids started school, we were so happy and pleased to have come so far. We told them to enjoy school and the healthy and fun environment provided by good educators.

If you want to know more about the origin of the Schultüte, visit: http://m.dw.com/en/why-germans-give-their-kids-paper-cones-on-the-first-day-of-school/a-19492362

This shows me on my first day of school. Back in 1967, cones were usually filled with essentials mostly, such as school supplies, but also a few sweets. My home state of Bavaria starts the new school year very late by mid-September, hence the warmer clothing.

My first day of school in September 1967

My first day of school in September 1967

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