Wednesday, December 05, 2007

won't be long now

Little German children aren't going to get much sleep tonight. Sankt Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) makes his appearance later on, filling shoes, boots and stockings with sweet treats and small gifts. Also lovingly referred to around these parts as Nikolausi, Nikolaus is NOT the same guy as the Weihnachtsmann, the German equivalent of the North American Santa Claus. It's difficult keeping all these Christmas characters apart but what it really means is presents now and presents later. That can't be a bad thing, can it?

My big grown-up boys, still kids at heart, have already hung out their stockings on our humble fireplace.

Mr. M, who is off enjoying himself (NOT!) this evening at some jolly company festivities, will be getting a little something too.

And because a man needs more than cake on a special night like this, I may consider casting aside my ancient flannel Winnie-the-Pooh pyjamas

in favour of my Santa suit

Just call me Nikomausi!

Advent is in full swing in Germany and Sunday December 2 was the day to light the first candle on the Advent wreath or arrangement. I did a sort of free-form thing this year. Every Sunday until Christmas we'll light another candle until all four are burning.

And I don't know what I've been doing all week, but I still haven't gotten around to any serious holiday baking. That's not to say that we haven't been doing any serious holiday cookie eating, though. That's what supermarkets are for. They're full of Christmas cookies starting in October.

These are some of our favourites

The dark chocolate covered ones in the back are Lebkuchen, soft gingerbread in the shape of hearts, stars and pretzels.

The small white ones are Pfeffernüsse, literally 'pepper nuts', also a type of gingerbread. These ones are spiced with cloves, cinnamon and anise.

Next we have the Dominosteine which are really more of a confection than a cookie. I've cut one open so you can see the layers. The bottom layer is gingerbread, followed by a fruit jelly, usually cherry or apple. The top layer is persipan, similar to marzipan (almond paste) but made from apricot kernels. These are very sweet and sticky.

The large round cookies are also a type of gingerbread baked on Oblaten, thin wafers. The most famous ones come from Nuremberg. Traditionally they may contain nuts and candied peel are made with Pottasche (potassium carbonate) and Hirshhornsalz (ammonium bicarbonate), leavening agents used before the development of baking powder and baking soda. Lebkuchengewürz (gingerbread spice) consisting of varying amounts of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, is available in stores in case you want to try making your own.

In the centre we have the Spekulatius, a crisp cookie spiced with cinnamon. Mr. M would eat these all year round if he could - they're great with a cold glass of milk. The ones we buy have images stamped on them and I'm told they most often depict the story of St. Nicholas.

So if you're in Germany, be on the lookout for a guy in a red suit. You may just wake up to a nice suprise tomorrow morning.

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At December 05, 2007 7:38 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

My mouth is watering and my heart longs to return to Germany! Spekulatius are my favorite! We call them "windmill cookies" because here (in July) they're shaped like old-fashioned windmills.


At December 05, 2007 8:19 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Carol: you can buy them all year long, nit just in July! LOL
Back to what I was gonna say in the first place: I didn't think someone would actually go out and buy a "Santa Suit", let alone wear this "thingy" at all!!!
My husband would ask me if I had lost my mind...

At December 05, 2007 8:21 p.m., Anonymous ian in hamburg said...

Oh hey, now I know where that search term Mausi (in her birthday suit) comes from.

Looks like it's shaping up to be a cozy Christmas by that fire.
ian in hamburg

At December 05, 2007 9:03 p.m., Blogger Charlotte said...

Great post, Christine! Love the Santa suit.

We are also enjoying the delicious Christmas cookies. I can't decide which I love more, Spekulatus or Lebkuchen.

Now I'm off to fill some boots that are waiting on the front doorstep!

At December 05, 2007 9:09 p.m., Blogger Maribeth said...

Happy St Nikolaustag!!! Wish I were there for the Lebkuchen!

At December 05, 2007 10:25 p.m., Blogger Angie said...

You're so festive! I love it! I probably should cast aside my ancient Snoopy flannel pajamas, being a newlywed and all, but a girl's gotta have one good pair of cold-weather jammies.

At December 06, 2007 2:42 a.m., Blogger Rositta said...

I used to buy Pfeffernusse and Domino Steine for my Mom every year. Personally I'm not crazy about them but she loved them. I need to make a trip to the German Deli here to see what I can find, not into baking this year. Your stuff is delectable as always. I'm sure Mr. M will love that Santa suit...ciao:)

At December 06, 2007 1:30 p.m., Blogger Antipodeesse said...

I'll bet you look so cute in your Santa suit!

At December 06, 2007 2:35 p.m., Blogger The Big Finn said...

Don't forget the white knee socks with the Santa suit!

At December 06, 2007 3:10 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Carol - You can get them in July?? The kind we sometimes buy have all sorts of different pictures on them - windmills, elephants, St. Nicholas etc. We go through tons of them at this time of year.

Silvia - Hmmm - your husband must be just a ton of fun. :-I

ian - Absolutely! I left the bearskin rug out of the picture since this is (mostly) a PG13 blog. :-)

charlotte - I like to act the part. :-) And yes, those cookies are irresistable, aren't they? I'm sure you're having plenty of excitement with your little ones today.

maribeth - Thanks! You should come over - we really need someone to help us eat all those cookies!

Ang - 'Tis the season! I totally understand about the flannel pyjamas! Those slinky nightgowns make you fall right out bed, and we don't want that now, do we? :-)

rositta - What about the 8 lbs of butter??? I can understand why you don't feel up to it, though. My mother in law LOVES the Dominosteine. I can eat about two and that's it for me.

antipo - Oh yes, it's the hat that makes it. And besides, I'm all he has so it's take it or leave it. ;-)

TBF - You are just SO naughty! :-) I won't let my husband read that or he'll start getting ideas.

At December 06, 2007 3:39 p.m., Blogger Ms Mac said...

Oooh! Lucky Mr M!

I've tried to like Lebkuchen but I just can't do it. I need a couple more years, I think!

At December 06, 2007 6:32 p.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Looking at the size of your sons' stockings, they must have been really good this year! LOL!

Side note: I think TBF is still stuck on the school girl's outfit ;)

At December 06, 2007 10:02 p.m., Blogger Pippa said...

Your house always looks so warm and inviting!

And now I can smell the chocolate and cinnamon mix that, for me, is so much part of Germany in Christmastime.

Thanks, this is finally putting me into the Christmas spirit as well...

At December 08, 2007 8:17 a.m., Blogger Mike B said...

After seeing your Santa Suit, I doubt I'd be looking for a guy in a Santa Suit. Love the stockings (a bit of stocking envy creeping in here), but I thought the tradition was to put out a boot or a shoe ... I just spent a few minutes explaining the stocking thing to a couple Germans, and when they heard we had tree-gifts and stocking gifts, you could hear the envy creeping in there too. Answer is to of course adopt all these traditions.

At December 08, 2007 8:45 p.m., Blogger hexe said...

On Wednesday, my three year old came home from pre-school and promptly informed my "the Nickel was coming tonight." After a few questions it became apparent he'd has a lesson about St. Nickolas in school. Hope "the Nickel" was good to your boys!

At December 08, 2007 10:49 p.m., Blogger MollyB, Bloggerin said...

Hope you don't expect your neighbors to be impressed, not once they see that plate of bought sweets. I'm pretty sure that women who don't bake gazillions of Plaetzchen are called Rabenmuetter ...

But if you ask me: wow and happy holidays!

At December 09, 2007 12:39 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Ohhhh. Now I'm having a German "fix" here at this site/sight, Christina. Thank you, thank you. I miss you.

At December 12, 2007 6:50 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

It is fascinating how much of the German tradition I recognise from Sweden. The German influence over hundreds of years has certainly made its mark. For instance, the four candles, adding one each week, is a very strong tradition, preferably in a straight candle holder. Now you've made me look forward even more going to Sweden next week! Thank you.

At December 12, 2007 6:52 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

Sorry, forgot to mention the Santa suit, which I dare not comment on. It might be misinterpreted!

At December 12, 2007 8:34 p.m., Blogger Thimbleanna said...

I'm just catching up on blogs and your post made me burst out laughing! You're hysterical and may I just say what a lucky man Mr. Mausi apparently is LOL! Man those cookies sure look good -- makes me really miss Germany!

At December 12, 2007 10:06 p.m., Blogger christina said...

ms mac - Yeah, it can be overpowering at times. I can eat a couple and then that's it.

CanSwiss - They've had those stockings since they were babies and we always manage to fill them up.

pippa - Well, it's messily warm and inviting. :-) I'm glad I could put you in the spirit.

mike b - Who needs Santa when they have me, right? The shoes and boots are traditional but I have seem quite a few stockings in Germany as well. We just do the stocking thing on the
6th and the present thing on the 24th/25th.

hexe - The Nickel - that's so cute!

molly - Nahh, those are just a warm up for what's to come. But surprisingly, the Superhausfrauen that I know are often really crappy at baking and cooking so I can blow them right out of the water. Until they see the state of my house, that is. Happy holidays to you too.

ginnie - I miss you too! Yes, Christmas in Germany is a special time. Isn't it great that you've gotten to experience the Christmas season in three different countries now?

swenglishexpat - But I wonder did the Germans influence the Swedes or the Swedes the Germans? I'm not really sure of the origins of all the traditions, but I love celebrating them.

thimbleanna - Oh yes, he is a very lucky man and I'm going to line up a bunch of bloggers to come over and tell him so in case he forgets! Glad I could give you a laugh. :-)

At December 14, 2007 10:37 p.m., Blogger PapaScott said...

Growing up in Minnesota all our Christmas goodies were Norwegian, meaning the food is white and bland (white fish, white potatoes, white cookies...). So all these spiced German cakes and cookies are too rich for my blood. Spekulatius from Aldi is about all I can take.

That's fine with Frauke and Christopher, that means they get to eat my share.

At December 15, 2007 1:33 p.m., Blogger MollyB, Bloggerin said...

@Papascott -
About 6 years ago, there was a blog by a South American guy who'd moved to Kaiserslautern for his domina. She often kept him in a cage, etc. He loved Spekulatius and would describe how he was allowed to eat it only as a reward, crumbled and mixed with a male bodily fluid. A lot of his writing could have been used for fundamentalist religious inspirational texts, if one just switched out a few of the terms.
Was relieved when he made the blog private, as I really didn't want to know more but couldn't stop reading it. Can't see a package of Spekulatius w/o thinking about this, though. Tried eating it a few times to dilute the association, but I can't see a package of the stuff without gagging a bit.


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