I have a theory that the reason the stores in the U.S. start putting up Christmas displays right after Halloween is because of all the German immigrants. It might appear greedy or gluttonous for us Americans to breeze over Thanksgiving in our hurry to celebrate Christmas, but here in Germany there is no turkey day. Their fests of the harvest end by Halloween (also not celebrated by Germany) and they’re gearing up for the holiday that Germans do best.
All the major cities in Germany have a “Weihnachtmarkt“, or Christmas Market . They run for about a month and some are even open after Christmas.
My Al and I spent our afternoon on Friday visiting two Christmas Markets, first in Heidelberg…
and then in Mannheim.
Not our photos. Our day didn’t include darkness or snow, just gray and cold.
Our favorite thing at the Christmas Markets so far is the hot Alkoholfrie Glüwein (means “glow wine”; the alcohol free kind is also known as Kinder Punch).
Living in this country, surrounded by traces of medieval life, it’s easy to get the sense that this is where Christmas started.
These images evoke happiness and warmth in my mind:
Wood Carving Pyramid
Weihnachtsmann (Christmas Man)
These images may be as familiar to any American as they are to me, but in this German setting, they appear completely natural. That is because these images/items are all German originals.
One German original is the traditions of St. Nicholaus and Weihnacthsmann. St. Nicholaus was a Catholic saint who went around on December 5th leaving goodies in the boots of children who were good throughout the year. When Martin Luther came along, he wanted to promote the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ so Weihnacthsmann was to replace St. Nicholaus. Weihnacthsmann was sent by Christkindl (Christ child) to give gifts on Christmas Eve.
Regardless of where they came from, Christmas traditions are designed to bring worldwide feelings of joy and happiness. I’m amazed at the beauty of having this one thing in common with so many different cultures.
And speaking of happiness, here’s my Photo of the Weekend:
In our hunt for the perfect find at the Christmas Markets, we came away with our commemorative mugs that held our warm drink in Heidelberg. Nothing else suited our fancy or our budget so Alan decided to give me an early Christmas gift he picked up last weekend. I love her! And him!
The words on her gown say, “Glük ist das Einzige, das sich verdoppelt, wenn man es teilt.” It translates “Happiness is the only thing that doubles if you share it.”
Alan didn’t know what the translation was until after I unwrapped her. When he looked it up online he was a little disappointed that it didn’t say anything about Christmas. As I thought about it though, it has everything to do with Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ is the happiest of occasions because he was a pure baby, gentle, meek, and mild. It is a happy occasion because it meant he was on the earth to live, teach and then atone for us all. It is happy because without a birth there could be no death and no resurrection and no eternal happiness. Christmas is about sharing the happiness that life has to offer, a foreshadow of the happiness we can enjoy in eternal life. These gifts, symbolized by all gifts, are only made possible by the gift of the Savior from our Father in Heaven.
Now go double your happiness by sharing it.