Let there be Peace on Earth

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Christmas – A Family Tradition

For as long as I can remember from the days after the war in Germany, 1Christmas has always been the most important event in our family. More than anything else it symbolizes the light that came into the world. For the men, women, and children, who survived the horrors of World War II, this light shining in the darkness had special meaning in a time of hopelessness and despair. For me as a young boy perhaps six or seven years old, there were three traditions that brought the Christmas message of peace closer to my heart.

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The first custom actually originated in Germany way back in the 17th century. My mother would take tender spruce or fir branches and weave them into an Advent wreath, on which she would place four red candles, one for each Sunday in the Advent season. Later on in the mid 50’s we moved together with my aunt Marie, who enriched the short celebration by playing a couple of Christmas melodies on her recorder.

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The second custom that I really liked was the Advent calendar. It was not an ordinary calendar. It was only used in the month of December and came with 24 doors. Starting on December 1st, I opened the first door to see what picture lay hidden behind it. The pictures were all associated with the upcoming event and would display stars, candles, the Christmas tree, angels, toys, and so forth. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I finally  opened the last door, which was a big double door, behind which I would find the manger-scene showing Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the three Wise Men, and, of course, Baby Jesus in the manger.

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My wife and I carried on with these traditions after immigrating to Canada. While our children grew up, they became acquainted with the third and in their view most important custom, the celebration of Christmas Eve.

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After singing a few Christmas carols both in English and German and the reading of the Christmas story, they were allowed to open their presents. Needless to say, they liked our Christmas better and were the envy of the kids in the neighborhood, who had to wait till morning to receive their gifts, which they would find under the tree.

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This will be the last post before the New Year. So my wife and I would like to pass on our good wishes to one and all. Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Autobiography Family Research Germany Photography The Family Tree Project Writing WWII

9 Comments Leave a comment

    • Celebration of Christmas Eve is the big difference. Then there is St. Nicholas Day on December 6. On Christmas Day the Germans eat duck, the Canadians eat turkey dinner. The Advent wreath also is not very well known in Canada. Thanks for your interest in my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes -the Advents wreath- – Presents at Christmas Eve. and Nikolas comes on Dec. 6. not Santa.
    I and my daughter have carried out the German Christmas- but Lisa also das with my Grandchildren the English one,
    so they both enjoy Christmas.

    You Peter and Gertrud Enjoy your wonderful and Blessed Christmas. and A better and greater New Year for 2016.
    Love you both Dearly satay healthy and happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lieber Peter,liebe Gertrudbiene!
      Danke auch für diesen schönen Bericht!
      Wir wünschen Euch,Euren Kindern,Enkeln,Eurer ganzen Familie und a l l e n ,die das hier lesen,ein gesegnetes,schönes Weihnachtsfest,ein gesundes ,friedliches neues Jahr!!
      Würde es in unserer Macht stehen,sollten sich alle Eure Wünsche erfüllen! Und es würden keine Kriege mehr geben….
      Es ist schön,dass es Euch gibt!
      Bleibt gesund!
      Edda

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photos and I look forward to the stories! Please keep sharing this wonderful project 🙂 You will have to try tamales one year for Christmas– you can make them out of duck or turkey!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter – A lovely post. We also do an advent wreath and light the candles each Sunday before Christmas. It is not a very common practice among people here but it is one my husband and I started when we were first married. Great picture of you and your wife in the snow.
    Kalen

    Liked by 1 person

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