Tuesday, December 08, 2009

'tis the season

Well, well, well, it's been a while hasn't it? I don't know what's gotten into me. So much busywork, so little time and it's almost Christmas!

December in Germany is all about bringing a little light into the darkness. We still have a couple of weeks until the shortest day of the year and it's already dark by 4:30 p.m. That can get a bit depressing.

The first Advent Sunday was November 29, time to light the first candle on the Advent wreath. We took a less is more approach this year, dispensed with tradition and made do with a simple arrangement of four candles and some shiny things. It looks nice on our coffee table.

Can't do without the Lichterbögen, though. We have three now and I love the way they look in the windows. Lichterbogen or Schwibbebögen, as they are sometimes called, originated in the Erzgebirge, the Ore Mountains between Germany and the Czech Republic. The candles are supposed to light the miners' way home after a hard day's work.

One thing we usually do on the first Advent Sunday is to visit our town's teeny tiny Adventsmarkt. I love the old church as a backdrop.

And of course no German December is complete without an Advent calendar. We're well into the chocolatey goodness!

And here's something I had hidden away and just found the other day. My very first Advent calender. It must be over 40 years old now, I can't remember when I first got it but I know my younger brothers had the same one with little boys on it. So sweet.

This past Sunday was Nikolaustag when St. Nicholas fills boots or stockings with all sorts of treats. Bearing cookies, we went to visit my father-in-law in his care facility and had a little celebration there.

Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents)

Really happy gingerbread man

Sugar cookies

The Hannover Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) is on until December 23, so while we were in the neighbourhood, we decided to take a look.

The market is divided up into several areas...

The Medieval market is home to many fascinating hand-made items

At the Finnish market you can buy a wooly hat

and feast on reindeer sausage or cedar-planked salmon

Mmmm! I thought I was back in B.C. for a minute there!

The more traditional part of the market offers lovely Christmas decorations and sweet treats

And let's not forget the wild and crazy places where you can eat to your heart's content and get all sorts of warm drinks to warm you up on a cold day.

The Skihütte sells something called Jagertee (Jäger means hunter in German and this is a variation on the spelling), black tea mixed with rum and spices. Sort of like a German hot toddy, I suppose.

Glühwein (mulled wine) is always popular and this place will also make you up some Tiger Milch (tiger milk) if you so desire. Not quite sure what that is, but it's guaranteed to contain copious amounts of alcohol.

The market wasn't as crowded as it has been in the last few years and I really enjoyed it, coming home with a few treasures for our tree.

Since Sunday we've been burning two candles which means we're halfway to Christmas already. Wow, time flies when you're making cookies! And I've been making LOTS of cookies because these large and hungry people I live with keep eating them. Which keeps ME from eating them. And that's a very good thing, believe me.


At December 08, 2009 1:39 a.m., Blogger Maribeth said...

Great post. I love the pictures and the explanations, that made me smile and feel the warmth of Christmases past when my Papa was still alive.

At December 08, 2009 5:08 a.m., Blogger Thimbleanna said...

I always want to return to Germany, but Christmas is when it I really feel it! Just to be able to go to the market and get some gluhwein! Your cookies look fabulous!!!

At December 08, 2009 7:39 a.m., Blogger Snooker said...

OK, NOW it's Christmas... Mausi is makin' cookies!

Thanks for showing us around.

At December 08, 2009 8:23 a.m., Blogger Frau said...

Gorgeous pictures I love German Christmas it's so festive and everyone is happier. Must be all the Gluhwein!

At December 08, 2009 5:50 p.m., Blogger essie said...

ooo i'm so glad you posted!

today was a very "un-holidayish" day in heidelberg and this cheered me right up!
now...some of those yummy looking cookies and a glass of tiger milch-then we'd REALLY be talking holidays!


At December 08, 2009 7:24 p.m., Blogger *Ulrike* said...

Sigh, I wish that I was back over there because it brings back lots of memories of my Opa (especially) and Oma. I forgot what you call those heart shape cookies, but they were always a favorite of mine! Thanks for transporting me back to a wonderful time!

At December 08, 2009 11:08 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

ohhh..it's so lovely! something about the old stone churches in europe make everything look so much more "special". :-)

love the decorating as always as you have such a knack for it.

is it terrible that i'm glad someone else finds the short days depressing? i'm usually okay until february-ish but this year i'm already depressed by it in december. UGH.

At December 09, 2009 2:16 a.m., Blogger Rositta said...

Some day I will spend Christmas in Germany again, someday...
Wonderful photos Christina. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas...ciao

At December 09, 2009 7:47 a.m., Blogger Lynda said...

Fab photos! And your vanillakipfler look perfect. I am have a million keks here too... and still another 10 days before the crowd arrives... getting dangerous!

Where does the Finnish influence come from?

At December 09, 2009 10:02 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

You can imagine my delight in seeing all your familiar sights at the Hannover Weihnachtsmarkt. Oh my. Talk about memories. Thank you, Christina. Now that I am here in Holland, I will start getting acquainted with the traditions here...one being Sinterklaas day on the 5th, and not the 6th. WE were each other's gift this year, of course. What a gift, right?! :) The next two Saturdays we plan to travel to Dordrecht and Deventer to see the Christmas markets there. So I do expect to get my fill of this season. I feel so lucky!

At December 09, 2009 5:16 p.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Incredible photos again. I really love your Advent's arrangement! We just bought new decorations for our Christmas tree and I'm looking forward to the weekend to decorate this place a bit (we're never home!). We'll have Ma over for Christmas which will be fun, not to mention a lot of Indonesian cooking!! YUM! :-)

At December 10, 2009 9:47 a.m., Anonymous Jen said...

Yummmm! Your pics of the cookies make me want to start baking right now!

At December 11, 2009 6:49 a.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Wow - what wonderful photos! And looking like a wonderful time is being had. We had a mini craft fair indoors. I wish I could have seen something like yours though! We are barely getting into the spirit, but I did find a great treat for Christmas which I am happy about... :)

At December 11, 2009 1:15 p.m., Blogger Mar said...

That was a lovely tour and fantastic pictures, so xmassy, I am only missing some Glühwein myself, lol.

At December 16, 2009 1:26 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your post and photos. I hope you and your family have a great Christmas.

Lisa formally of Stuttgart, now in Indy. Ciao for now.

At December 18, 2009 10:38 a.m., Blogger Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

Reading this post makes me feel so thankful to embrace and experience a Christmas in Germany. I know you posted it a little bit ago. I've reread it several times. About time I said thank you, huh? So thank you!

At December 20, 2009 9:35 a.m., Blogger Betty C. said...

Yes, I was in Hannover, Germany and took some of the very same pictures! Well, that's what I get for being out of the blogging loop. I spent all Saturday alone shopping an poking around town and it would have been wonderful to meet up! On the other hand, it was kind of glorious to have a whole day to myself...I hadn't taken a trip of more than two days without family members for twenty years!

I took a picture of that same salmon thinking "it looks like the PNW!"

Anyway, this missed opportunity has made me determined to try to get back into the blogging rounds, somehow....it just seems to take so much time. Any secrets for how you keep up with it without spending your life at it?

I just loved that Christmas atmosphere in Germany...it's not the same here in France.

BTW are you on Twitter? I am spending more time there now, thus the lack of blogs....

At December 20, 2009 9:49 a.m., Blogger Betty C. said...

This even inspired me to write a post:


At December 20, 2009 11:19 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I just read Betty C.'s post and came to visit. I'm a PNW girl too. But I'm in France (like Betty). I miss such intense xmas tradition and festivities. The French aren't that good about it. Your pictures are so lovely and make me very nostalgic. Your cookies look delicious!

At December 25, 2009 8:39 p.m., Blogger Tiina Kala said...

Yum yum yum.

At July 13, 2010 11:20 a.m., Anonymous Shenandoah bed and breakfast said...

This is a very beautiful destination, which is enriched with all the beauty and fascination of nature.

It is mostly famous for its mountain gorillas which are presented in very huge amount and a fun for all the travelers there.


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