Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We wish all our readers happy holidays and a merry Christmas, and if you're not celebrating Christmas, we wish you a good time anyway.

The girls are now old enough to take note of what is going on, so this year I've been thinking about our Christmas traditions.

In Germany, Christmas is celebrated on the evening of December 24th, the "holy night", with presents being deposited below the tree and opened either before or after dinner. A very common dinner on Christmas here is goose with red cabbage and dumplings. The presents are attributed not to Santa Claus but to the "Christuskind" (Christ child), usually depicted as a little angel. (I recall being quite confused as to whether its a boy or a girl.) Saint Claus' (Nikolaus) day on the other hand is in Germany not Christmas but December 6th. He delivers his goodies into boots that you place in front of the door over night. However, Saint Nikolaus comes with a dark brother, Knecht Ruprecht, who will slap the kids if they haven't been nice.

So tell me something about your Christmas tradition and how you celebrate!


  1. Merry Christmas you too! All of you!

  2. Surely just one goose and not many geese!

    Whether or not it is the Christkind depends on what part of Germany one is in. Christkind appears to be more in the south whereas in the north it is the Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man), the equivalent of Santa Claus.

    Of course, the figures of Santa Claus, Weihnachtsmann, St. Nicholas etc have mutually influenced each other over the ages, in different ways in different places.

    Just to clear up any confusion, the modern image of Santa Claus is definitely not due to the influence of Coca-Cola advertisements, though these might have helped re-enforce an image which had already existed for some time.

  3. Dear Bee, Stefan, Gloria & Lara,

    All are looking wonderful and ready for the festivities to begin. I found this an enlightening story, which has all our connotations of angles on the top of Christmas trees, stockings hung out for Santa, with the naughty and nice stipulation having our traditions come in as being not much more than borrowed adaptations. The only thing I could add here is perhaps the concept of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, which most today only find as a day to pack up their presents or a time to go to the malls to do battle with other shoppers in securing bargains. In actuality Boxing Day is (was) the day when the better off would pack gifts in plain boxes to be given to the less fortunate. I guess what I’m saying is this is one North American adaptation of European Christmas tradition which I wish had remained in its original context.

    ” Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store. ”

    -Dr. Seuss

    Wishing you and all a Very Merry Christmas,



  4. /*..common dinner on Christmas here is geese with red cabbage and dumplings..*/

    Merry Christmas to you too... Speaking of dinner, a common dinner on Christmas in Czech is fried carp and potato salad. It improves the understanding of space-time and its dimensions..;-)

  5. Hi Phillip,

    Thanks, I've fixed the geese. Yes, it might be indeed it depends on the region. Frankfurt I guess is as "middle" as it gets and it's a mixture of Christkind und Weihnachtsmann. Best,


  6. Hi Juan,

    Thanks, hope you had a good one :o) Best,


  7. Hi Phil,

    Oh, yes, the "Boxing Day", you inherited that from the British? I was very puzzled when I heard about this the first time! Here it's more like Dec 27th is national Return And Exchange Day ;o) Best,


  8. Hi Zephir,

    Potato salad is also quite common here on Christmas, though local habits differ. It's probably the wine though that improves the understanding of space and time, not the potatoes ;o) Best,


  9. We were going to have a Christmas goose. One of the local farmers, who sells wonderful grass fed beef, had raised turkeys for Thanksgiving. Now, she had a bunch of fattening geese. We ordered one and made arrangements to pick it up, fully dressed, at the farm on the 23rd. The 23rd was also our local farmers' market day, so we dropped by her stand to see how our Christmas dinner was doing. She mentioned that she had been having some trouble catching the geese, but now that her sons were home from college, she was sure that three strapping boys could run down a flock of fowl. That night, however, shortly after dark, she called with the bad news. The boys hadn't managed to catch the geese and she hadn't managed to record their efforts to upload them to Youtube. This was no problem for us. We had a frozen turkey, so we just defrosted that bird for the big day. Our farmer friend assured us that the geese weren't going anywhere. Their flight feathers had been clipped, so eventually human wile would trap them. We're waiting for the call.

    Since one of us is Jewish and the other non-Christian, we've accrued our own holiday traditions. The usual Jewish Christmas custom in the US is to go out for Chinese food and a movie, but we usually work our way through a bottle or two of champagne and roll around under the Christmas tree opening presents while the turkey roasts in the oven. We don't have children of our own, but we've already given all the children we know - so many of them are teenagers with girlfriends and boyfriends now - their presents at the cookie tree decorating party. We lit the candles on the tree and everyone oohed and aahed and fingered the fire extinguishers nervously. Then came the grown ups party with a choucroute garnis, which you can think of as either a glorified frankfurter with sauerkraut or an excellent reason for wanting to annex Alsace.

    Sometimes we do Christmas alone. Sometimes friends drop by. This year one of our friends didn't have custody of his two girls for the holiday, so he dropped by our place for a glass of champagne, some Santa Lucia rolls and some roasted brussels sprouts - a true European celebration. The local French restaurant - run by a long retired professional tennis player from France and his wife - had been serving Christmas dinners to all comers. Our friend is a professional chef, so he had been helping out cutting meat - racks of lamb, beef steaks and so on. He had also been eating meat all day, so he asked for anything we had but meat or fowl, hence his odd dinner.

    By the time he left, it was dark and the Christmas rush was fading to Christmas collapse. We double checked the cookie tree to make sure all the candles were out, cut power to the entire Christmas rig, and turned in, exhausted, for the night.

  10. Hi Bee,
    Merry Newtonmas for you and family.
    I spent the night writing a paper, same as two years ago. It is probably the way to celebrate Newton's birthday.
    Best wishes for next year.



COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG ARE PERMANENTLY CLOSED. You can join the discussion on Patreon.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.