Helga here 🙂
December 1 has always been a big deal, because that’s when the advent calendars would get hung up on the walls and the final countdown to Christmas began. Our advent calendars are handmade and would get filled with small treats and gifts each year.
Advent, which are the four Sundays before Christmas, hold a special place in my family. We light the new candle on the advent crown and spend some quality family time together, playing board games, baking and obviously eating Christmas cookies, reading books and singing carols.
On December 5th, we kids had to write our wish list for Christmas and clean our shoes. In the evening we would leave a pair of clean and shiny shoes, with our wish lists in front of the door and wait for Saint Nicholas to come. Saint Nicholas is the saint and protector of children and students and comes on December 6 and leaves small gifts and collects the children’s wish lists and sends them to Father Christmas. But only the good kids would get treats, bad children would only get a lump of coal in their shoes from Saint Nicholas’ travel companion Knecht Ruprecht. I never got a piece of coal, but I made sure to be especially good on the days leading up to December 6th.
(My actual wish lists! Left: 1993, right: 1996)
I was born close to Nuremburg, which is world famous for their Chirstkindlesmarkt. It opens four weeks before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. During that time the market sees about 2 million visitors from all over the world. We would visit my grandma, who still lives there today, and wander all over the market. There is just something about freezing in the cold and looking at all the outdoor stalls, drinking a non-alcoholic children’s mulled wine (when you’re grown up, the alcoholic version is also very nice), and getting into the Christmas spirit. I loved visiting the Christmas markets not only in Nuremburg, but in pretty much any village, town and city.
In my family the Christmas tree gets put up on Christmas Eve, after us kids had gone to bed. Once we were older we were allowed to help decorate the tree. There are some great family stories of putting up the tree. One year a glue gun played a prominent role in saving Christmas. In the process of putting up the star on top of the tree, the ladder my dad was standing on broke and he fell into our tree, breaking off the tip. And because our tree has to touch the ceiling, after lots of tears, the tree top simply got glued back on and Christmas was saved.
Christmas is by far me favourite time of year and I look forward to spend some fabulous time with friends and family over the holidays.
What are some of your Christmas memories or traditions? Sound off in the comments!