Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has come and gone and I'm still up making the preparations for Christmas Day lunch. This is the first year we won't be subjected to a very difficult father/father-in-law/grandfather two days in a row. For years and years we always followed a set plan, not my plan, but Mr. M's parents' plan, and I thought it was time for a change. It used to be that they would come to our house on Christmas Eve, the traditional day for gift giving in Germany, and we would go to their small, cramped apartment for lunch on the 25th. Last year was the last straw when my mother-in-law served leftovers! That's just not Christmas to me. I need my turkey with all the trimmmings. So I'm in charge of the turkey dinner this time and they'll be coming to our house for lunch. We also got to spend a lovely Christmas Eve alone, just the four of us for a change. The boys opened their presents from us and will open the grandparents' presents tomorrow to spread things out a bit.

For the past few years we've been having a Swiss raclette for dinner on the 24th. It's very easy and the kids love it. Traditionally I think raclette only involves boiled potatoes, pickled onions and lots of cheese, but we add all sorts of things to ours. The potato slices go on to the little pan first followed by various toppings. Then comes a nice slice of cheese and the whole thing is put into the raclette to get all melty and delicious.

the beginnings of our humble supper (or: this is what the table looks like when you let your husband set it!)

Christmas Eve in Germany usually follows a set ritual - first an afternoon church service, then coffee and cake and then the opening of the gifts. It used to be, and still is in many families, that the tree wasn't decorated until the 24th and that the children weren't allowed to see it or enter the room where the presents were until a little bell was rung, a signal that the Christkind had been there.

I was talking with my English friend F last night, and she said she was trying to explain German Christmas traditions to her almost three year old son who is smart as a whip and wants to know everything. We were discussing whether the Christkind is supposed to represent the baby Jesus, as she and I had thought, but when I looked it up I found it wasn't so. Apparently the mythical Christkind, sometimes represented in the form of a young girl or an angel with long blonde hair, a golden crown and white and gold robes, was invented by Martin Luther as a parallel Protestant figure to the Catholic St. Nikolaus. In the 19th century Catholics gradually accepted the Christkind, while Protestants later moved on to the secular Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus). This is the reason why the Christkind now appears mostly in Catholic households. Read about it here (in German) and here (in English).

the tree decorated by the kids

my little peace angel

Wishing those of you who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!


At December 25, 2005 3:44 a.m., Blogger euro-trac said...

As per usual, a post that educates and makes you want to come round for dinner! :-)
Merry Christmas to you all!! x

At December 25, 2005 9:38 a.m., Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Merry Christmas to you!

At December 25, 2005 9:45 a.m., Anonymous karl said...

Hi Christina,

Your post resonates with me. I would love to celebrate Christmas Eve by ourselves without my in-laws and sister-in-law + Lebensabschnittsgefährte (all without young children - aka the fuddy duddies).

Interesting post about the Christkind. Our Christmas Eve ritual is pretty much as described above but instead of cake and coffee we actually sit down to a salmon dinner before opening presents.

Merry Christmas!

At December 25, 2005 10:08 a.m., Anonymous lizardek said...

Mmmm..raclette! My brother and his fiancee have served up those feasty dinners when we've been in Germany visiting. I think I have to get me one of those grills. A very merry Christmas to you, from Sweden :)

At December 25, 2005 12:09 p.m., Blogger Haddock said...

Merry Christmas from England. In a few hours we tuck into Turkey with all the trimmings. :)

We had raclette at home last week. It's a really fun meal.

Enjoy your Xmas and regards and seasons greeting from the Haddock family

At December 25, 2005 5:13 p.m., Blogger Katja said...

We also had Raclette for Dinner on Christmas Eve. Hope you had two very peaceful days with your family.

At December 25, 2005 6:44 p.m., Anonymous Lynn R said...

... and Merry Christmas to you too Christins. :)

At December 25, 2005 6:46 p.m., Blogger Calamity Tat said...

Merry Christmas Christina....Yes eventually got the parcel then I ordered a new one and that came double quick with a free teddy for titch.... nice.....

At December 25, 2005 8:48 p.m., Blogger Betty said...

I learn so much here. I need to look up raclette now .. yum.

At December 26, 2005 4:37 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

All new stuff for me, too, Christina! Thanks for the "lesson" :)

Merry Christmas and New Year's greetings to you as well!

At December 26, 2005 8:52 a.m., Blogger SwissTwist said...

yummmmm Raclette.. we had it too! (on Friday though) It was my first taste of Switzerland before moving here (at the Swiss club in SA) and its still my favourite Swiss food.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas, look forward to 'hearing' all about it!

At December 26, 2005 1:25 p.m., Anonymous Belinda said...

I hope you had/are still having a wonderful Christmas!

I swear, I never want to eat again. least today lol

At December 26, 2005 5:53 p.m., Blogger Crystal said...

Merry Christmas! It all sounded lovely and the tree is very nice. It's fun hearing about holiday traditions in other countries.

At December 28, 2005 3:38 a.m., Blogger Tim Rice said...

Your Swiss raclette sounds and looks delicious. Have a great New Year.


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