Sunday, December 04, 2005


(I have 15 minutes to write this and then I need to go back to knitting!)

One scarf down
Two more to go
Will she make it?
We hope so!

I've never been very good at meeting deadlines but I'm going to do my best.

I couldn't knit much yesterday because I was downtown all day Christmas shopping in overheated German department stores. They're hot in the summer (no air conditioning) and even hotter in the winter (because, like, it's cold outside so we need to crank up the heat even though people are wearing hats and down jackets).

I must have looked a strange sight sweating away and muttering things like "Nintendogs" and "Yu-gi-oh! Nightmare Troubadour" under my breath. If you have kids between the ages of about 8 and 16 you'll know what I'm talking about. Luckily, the sales people also knew what I was talking about and I have now officially finished the shopping for the boys. They get one big present from us (Santa) and one from Oma and Opa and then a couple of little bits and pieces - all very low key. Our other friends usually give them money so they can either buy what they want right away, or save it up for something Really Important. A parcel also arrived from Canada yesterday (postage was only CDN $47! - can you say rip-off?) to be opened on the 25th and of course the kids are going nuts trying to figure out what's inside.

I've finally gotten the Christmas decorations organized and put up the wreath on the front door.

And last but not least, December 4th is St. Barbara's Day in Germany.

Barbara, the daughter of the rich merchant Dioscuros, was born around 236 A.D. and grew up in Nikomedia (today's Izmet, Turkey). Her conversion to Christianity enraged her father so much that he ordered her to be locked up, tortured, and put to death.
Her father, having a hand in her death, was immediately struck down by lightning and Barbara was later named the patron saint of those needing protection from thunder storms. She is also the patron saint of miners which makes Barbaratag very popular in the mining regions of Germany.

Legend has it that as Barbara was imprisoned, a cherry branch stuck to her dress. She watered it with the water in her drinking cup until the day of her execution in 306 A.D, when the branch was said to have bloomed.

The German custom of the Barbarazweig - the Barbara branch, stems from this legend. Branches of flowering trees and shrubs (cherry or forsythia are quite common, but others such as apple, hazelnut, chestnut or plum may be used) are cut on Dec. 4 and soaked in water overnight to saturate them. They are then placed in a vase in a cool place and should flower by Dec. 24, bringing good luck, good weather and fertility to the household. Young girls are said to have given each branch a name of a suitor, the branch that bloomed first showing her the name of her future groom.

I cut a bunch of forsythia branches today and I'm hoping they will indeed bloom in time for Christmas. I've already found my groom and have had quite enough fertility, than you very much, but a little good luck and good weather would be just fine with me.


At December 04, 2005 11:04 p.m., Blogger Betty said...

How do you know all these things? Tell about St. Betty.

Your wreath is lovely. I'm off now to look for your cranberry banana bread !!!

At December 04, 2005 11:06 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Betty - Google and Wikipedia are two of my best friends! :-)

St. Betty is the patron saint of lost cats.

At December 04, 2005 11:51 p.m., Blogger Dixie said...

Oh darn! I wish I'd read this earlier and I'd have gone hunting for a forsythia branch.

I ain't going out right now. It's nearly midnight, cold and puking rain.

At December 05, 2005 1:10 a.m., Blogger Sandra said...

Nintendogs has been a big hit in our household. The little doggie is so cute.

Here's hoping for good weather and good luck.

At December 05, 2005 1:34 a.m., Blogger cmhl said...

GORGEOUS forsythia! we have a bush out back, that usually blooms in the summer..

At December 05, 2005 1:49 a.m., Blogger Cathy said...

I don't knit, but I quilt and I am making two small blankets. And am in the same boat; needing to make the deadline and worried I won't make it.

At December 05, 2005 2:44 a.m., Anonymous lillian said...

Knitting.. wow.. I AM impressed. I could knit but I wouldn't WANT to.. prefer doing sports lol

At December 05, 2005 8:33 a.m., Anonymous Belinda said...

I had no idea that you knit! :D that's awesome and you should post photos of your projects. I always need inspiration. I'm going through a handbag phase lol sewed, crocheted and knitted. I don't know what to do with them all and I'm sure I'll end up giving them away as gifts.

Beautiful wreath :D

At December 05, 2005 8:57 a.m., Blogger Haddock said...

Juniorette wants to learn to knit. I can, but havent done so in years. I never figured out why my mum taught my brother & I to knit.

Impressive stuff about St. Barbara. I'll to hack a bit of Forsythia from the garden :)

At December 05, 2005 9:28 a.m., Blogger Léons Life said...

Don't you just hate stores at this time of year. Your wrapped against the nasty weather, the shops are hot and your loaded down with lots of bags....awful.

Good luck with the knitting, I hope you post up a picture to show us the results.

I have seen quite a few people blogging about knitting, that I might even get out my needled,

Maybe when you post the knitting picture you can share the pattern with us. I need a really easy thing though

At December 05, 2005 12:42 p.m., Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Well, since we don't have the money to decorate our apartment, T got me a small Weihnachtsstern. I think I'll take a picture of it and post it on my blog. I'd want a wreath on our door, too....but I think it's going to be stolen, so we decided against it.

I'm planning to bake something spectacular...not sure whether I'll do it today or not, since I have to be at the uni by 17 hrs....and I'm still sitting around in my pj - have to read quite a bit for the university - since I have a Referat in two weeks and hadn't really started....but reading a (really boring) book with a nice big cuppa is just cosy...(no matter how bad the book is, the cuppa made up for it. Besides, I switch between that and Narnia *LOL*)

At December 05, 2005 2:57 p.m., Blogger Schatzi said...

Well Betty asked the same question that went through my head! HOW DOES SHE KNOW THIS STUFF!! Yes, the internet is the best invention since sliced bread! Yer Wreath is loverly!.. I made a wreath too.. will post a pic back at "the ranch"... Enjoy yer knitting!!!!

At December 05, 2005 4:14 p.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

I love the wreath and you can so tell it's a German door. I'm impressed still that you can find out all of this information.

The heat - maybe it's to keep the workers warm? I'd be working the other way. Keep it cold, make you want to buy warm clothes on display in the stores..

At December 05, 2005 7:55 p.m., Blogger Betty said...

I am looking for Schatzi's wreath but where is the ranch? On the salad? (sorry)

This is one my favorite jokes for DS12.

There were 2 little skunks named In and Out. One day as Mom was cooking dinner, Out came in but In went out. Pretty soon dinner was ready and Mom asked Out to go out and tell In to come in. In a couple of minutes, In and Out came in. "Wow," said Mom, "How'd you find In so quickly?" Out replied, (OHHHHH, how do I write this??) "In stinked." (I guess that's the way.)

At December 05, 2005 10:41 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Dixie - I'm sure a couple of days won't make much difference at all. I read that the twigs will only bloom if there's been frost already.

Sandra- I know I'll be standing in line to take my turn with Nintendogs. They are so cute.

cmhl - that's not our bush, I just stole the picture, but we do have a couple of forsythias that bloom in March and April.

Cathy - Good luck with the quilting!

lillian, Belinda - I know how to knit but I haven't knit anything in about a thousand years.

HaddockI think it's great when boys learn how to do handicrafts. You never know when you might need to knit a sweater.

Leon's life - it's a really easy pattern - knit one row, purl the next until it's long enough! :-)

elemm - can't wait to see what you baked!

Schatzi, Expat - after living here for so long I've learned a lot about the local customs and the internet is also a great resource.

Betty - here's a hint: MOOOO! And I adore that joke. They'll laugh themselves silly.

At December 06, 2005 9:44 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Christina, this is absolutely wonderful! I love the way you describe things and put them all together, giving me a learning lesson in "one swell foop." Thanks :)


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