Christmas past…

I hate to admit it publicly, but I seem to have mislaid my Christmas spirit! So, I've been on the hunt today, rummaging through boxes of photos for memories of Christmas past.

Of course, my fondest Christmas memories are of family, particularly travelling to Grandma and Grandpa's for the big family get together. But today, I'd like to share some Christmas experiences I had while living in Germany, at the age of 15. I lived in the most northern part of "West Germany", with a family that I used to refer to as "Greenies"… these days, and looking back on the photos, I would call them "organic". The year I spent with them was a little alternative, compared to my Australian life. But life there was filled to the brim with family tradition and all things hand-created… particularly throughout Advent and Christmas.

Now these photos are 25 years old and taken on the cheapest camera that ever existed!! I've adjusted the contrast and other "technical photo things" as much as I could… so maybe if you squint, 'til your vision blurs a little, you can pretend they are crisp in detail and vivid in colour… : )

Christmas time in Germany means baking time. The house was filled with the aroma of warm, nutty biscuits. I remember the dominance of almonds in most biscuit recipes. These ones were heart shaped, with a crunchy almond base and topped with a soft meringue. Yum. Ever the perfectionist, the challenge was being consistent with biscuit shape and form… check out that concentration!

One Day In May Christmas Past5 




Schwarz-Weiß-Gebäck, were my favourite to bake…a hard to resist checkerboard of rich chocolate and vanilla bean.

 Up until this point, I don't think I had encountered an advent wreath… and now, I'm not sure that any other would compare to this enormous one!One Day In May Christmas Past 3 
You can see by the size of my host mother's hands, just how big it is. Each December it grows a little larger, as she covers the dead foliage of the previous year, with a fresh layer of pine twigs. It is hung from the rafters by wire, hidden behind the ribbon.
This photo was very dark to begin with, but I think you can just make out the pine twigs on the floor. The twigs are secured with twine. The following spring, little birds nested in the wreath, while it hung on the wall of the garden shed.One Day In May Christmas Past 4
I've just had a close look… I can see one of the many cross-stitch kits I completed that year, next to me in the chair. Advent was very "cross-stitch" flavoured for me. I stitched endlessly. Here I am stitching another… a simple, single-toned design, stitched on linen… one of my very favourites.One Day In May Christmas Past 2
It is a design by Gerda Bengtsson for Danish company, Haandarbejdets-Fremme. It's still available here, 25 years on!
This last photo actually shows me way up on a ladder, lighting the candles on an 11ft Christmas tree.  My host father had to secure it to the rafters to prevent it from toppling! We chose it from a Christmas tree farm, where we encountered a very large stag… a bit of a surprise for an Australian girl.
 One Day In May Christmas Past 1 

The decorations, as you can see are all very traditional and mostly handmade. A very simple display, but the flicker of candlelight on an 11 foot tree, is a festive vision that I will never forget.
Thank you for indulging my visit to a Christmas past. I can feel that Christmas spirit rekindling and can almost smell those little checkerboards as they cool from the oven…mmmm.
Wishing you the blessing of joy this Advent,
Melissa  x


2 Responses

  1. Bronwyn

    hey Melissa, Thanks for the insight to your German Christmas. My daughter is currently in Germany, Schwerin.I hope she is learning to bake those cookies.

  2. Hi Bronwyn. How wonderful to be in Germany for Christmas! I bet she can see my envious green glow, even from there! I was near Flensburg, so only about a 3 hour drive away from Schwerin. I wonder if it will be cold enough for the Baltic Sea to freeze along the coast this year. I hope she has the wooliest of socks on hand… just in case!
    Merry Christmas and blessings to you both, Melissa x

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