Advent and Christmas. For many people this is the most beautiful time of the year. It is celebrated all over the world, although many customs started in Europe. In this article, we would like to briefly describe how this time is celebrated in Germany.
Advent: Jesus is coming again soon
In the Advent season we prepare for Christmas. The word "Advent" comes from the Latin language and means "arrival". At this time we remember that Jesus Christ came into this world as a child and that he will soon return as the LORD.
At Advent, the streets of the cities are brightly illuminated. Everywhere hang fairy lights and colorful decorations.
In the windows hang stars and other figures made of paper. And from many kitchens comes a beautiful fragrance. People begin to bake Christmas cookies and special Christmas cakes.
Many children also have one Advent calendar. For each of the 24 days in December until Christmas Day you can find a piece of chocolate or something else behind small doors. But there are also Advent calendars that the mothers or older children make themselves and fill with beautiful things, such as. B. Fill with nuts, fruit, chocolate and small toys. In old Advent calendars, you can still find a biblical promise behind each window that points to the coming Christ.
In many homes during these weeks you can find a Advent wreath, tied from green fir branches. There are four candles on it. A new candle is lit every Sunday in Advent. When all four candles are lit, it will soon be Christmas. To do this, the children sing: "Advent, Advent, a little light burns, first one, then two, then three, then four; then the Christ Child stands before the door."
Autumn is not yet completely escaped,
But as Knecht Ruprecht already
Winter is coming.
And soon from snow’s midst
Sounds the sleigh bell’s tone.
And what else recently, far and near,
Bunt on us herniedersah,
White are towers, roofs, branches,
And the year is winding down;
And the most beautiful feast is here.
Day thou of the Lord’s birth,
Today you are still far away,
But firs, angels, flags
Let us already foresee the day,
And we already see the star.
Theodor Fontane (1819 – 1898)
St. Nicholas come to our house..
On 6. December is celebrated in Germany the St. Nicholas Day, commemoration of Bishop Nicholas of Myra, who died in the 4th century. Santa Claus lived in the seventeenth century and took special care of children. On the evening before, the girls and boys put their boots and shoes outside the door. They want Santa Claus to fill them with sweets and fruit. In the evening, sometimes St. Nicholas himself comes to the house, dressed in a wide coat and a bishop’s hat, or he walks through the city. He always carries a rod for the naughty children and a sack full of small gifts for the dear children. From a big book he reads to them what good and bad things they have done, and he distributes small gifts. Mostly, however, everyone gets something. Sometimes St. Nicholas is accompanied by a helper, the servant Ruprecht.
It was not until the last century that the tradition of "Santa Claus", who brings the Christmas presents, appeared. This comes originally from America, where he is called "Santa Claus". In many parts of Germany, however, especially in the south, the presents are brought by the "Christkind" (Christ Child) at Christmas.
From high in the sky
on a blue ribbon
in the glow of a thousand stars
quiet happiness came to the land
and has in dark hearts
a little light lit,
has sorrows, grief and pain
very quietly covered.
Richard von Schaukal (1874-1942)
Christmas: Jesus is born
The Christ Child and the distribution of gifts, the so-called "Bescherung", belong to Christmas. Since the 16th. Century there is this custom. In those days the Christ Child sent a bag with five things into the house: toys, sweets, a coin, a piece of clothing and things for school. Only when the Christmas presents became more and more numerous, they were put on the so-called "gift table".
The center of the gift table today is a Christmas tree with glowing candles and colorful baubles. No other German custom has found such a spread in the world. Some people also put a nativity scene under the Christmas tree. The event of Bethlehem is reenacted here with different, often artistically designed figures. In a stable stand a donkey and an ox, as well as Mary and Joseph. Sometimes you can see the shepherds with their sheep or the three wise men from the east. In the middle there is a feeding trough, a crib. In it lies a small doll that is supposed to represent Jesus as a child.
The evening before Christmas Day is Christmas Eve (24.12.). Many people go to church for worship that evening. There you sing songs and listen to the Christmas story from the Bible. Sometimes the children also play a "Nativity play", in which the Christmas story is depicted as it appears in the Gospel of Luke. Sometimes the wise men from the Orient appear, about whom the evangelist Matthew tells the story.
After the service, it is time for the gifts that were previously placed under the Christmas tree. Everyone was looking forward to this, but most of all the children. Some children have also written a "wish list" beforehand and given it to their parents. Whether they find now also the things under the Christmas tree, which they wished for?
Christmas Eve is often concluded with a meal together, but on Christmas Day (25.12.) then the celebration continues. The housewives make something especially good to eat, often carp, goose or a delicious roast and homemade cake. Every member of the family who lives away from home and who is able to come also comes to this celebration.
Christmas is a family celebration.
The Advent and Christmas season is a time of Hope. At this time we remember that God has shown us his great love. So great is his love that his only son was born as a small child in a stable. That was God’s gift to us! We only need to accept. And for this reason we can celebrate Christmas. Even when the circumstances are not good and we don’t want to celebrate at all. Jesus wants to give hope and help to everyone!
"God has loved people so much,
that he gave his only son.
Now all those who rely on the Son of God will be,
not perish, but live forever."
Gospel of John 3,16