I am not known for being a great lover of Christmas. It’s not that I don’t love Christmas, I do. At Christmas time. But I find it really hard when the whole festive package is being peddled from Halloween, if not earlier. Thus far, I haven’t embraced the season very much either at home (apart from gift buying, just starting that now would leave me a wreck) or here in blog world. But, today is the day, the time has come…let the festive season begin. And I’d like to kick it off, dear reader, by sharing with you a few of the traditions and decorations that make up my Christmas. That have been influenced by living and travelling in Germany and beyond. Because Germany really knows how to do Christmas.
So why does today feel like an acceptable beginning-of-Christmas sort of day? Because today is the day before Sankt Nikolaus Tag or St Nikolaus Day. On the night of the 5th December, German children place a shoe or boot at their bedroom door in the hope that St Nikolaus will drop by and leave them a little something. However, this only happens if the children have been good all year and have polished the shoes they leave out. Naughty children will be left sticks or coal from the bag of the Saints companion Knecht Ruprecht, and dirty shoes just wont cut it. The modern version of this is a charming bit of fun, but the Christmas visitors vary across Germany and the roots of this tradition are quite dark. More here, for those who are interested.
Not that Germany is ever lacking in good stuff to eat, but at this time of year the bakeries come into their own in the production of seasonal bakes and temptations. Stollen from Dresden, spiced and sweetened Printern from Aachen and locally produced St Nickolaus bread all find their way into our kitchen. Some of them are so pretty, its a shame to consume them. Most of the seasonal bakes keep and travel very well though, due to the high content of sugar, honey and spices. So they can be displayed for a while and still be perfectly edible.
When it comes to decorating the house, I am quite sentimental. That surprises some people, but I do tag memories and emotions onto pieces I’ve collected over the years. Its not that they are expensive or rare, just meaningful to me.
This glass bird was my first ever Christmas Market purchase. I can clearly remember being vastly unsure about life in Germany, but blown away by my first German Christmas. Funny to think since then we have been back to the UK for a few years and then returned to German soil. Germany grew on me, in the end.
When back in the U.K, we were based in North Yorkshire and although you don’t quite get the German experience there , it is a region that has its own brand of Christmas magic. If you are a lover of things with a heritage or vintage focus, you’ll find much to please. Places like Kiplin Hall offer up the country house Christmas experience and a Christmas visit to Bettys never fails to raise a smile. I picked up these vintage inspired tin tree decorations at a vintage Christmas event that was held in The Station in Richmond. A place worth a visit, if you are in the area.
Now living back in Germany and with all the children fairly independent and mobile we have really aimed to raise our travel game over the past year or so, and have explored as much as we can within Germany and beyond. In October we were lucky enough to make a much anticipated trip to Oslo. Although Im not hugely keen on early celebration, I did cave in and pick up a pretty bauble. I love that it came from our travels and adds to our own family Christmas story. The traditional story book images are hand painted and it goes rather nicely with the red Scandi inspired hanging heart. No background story to go with that one, it came from Tesco. Probably picked it up with a pint of milk, a loaf of bread and a cheap T shirt from the F&F range.
While I feel blessed to have the opportunity to travel and adopt different customs for the family, I haven’t forgotten my roots. Despite the fact I haven’t been back to Great Britain for almost two years now, I do get a bit nostalgic for a traditional British Christmas. I miss Christmas shopping on the British high street. I miss being able to buy British Christmas cards with traditional scenes. Like a red post box in the snow. A bit like this pretty tree ornament from Marks and Spencer. A snow dusted red post box from good old Marks and Sparks… does it actually get much more British than that? That will be my little reminder of home hanging on my tree in Germany this Christmas.
If you have any travel inspired seasonal touches or have adopted any traditions along the way, I would genuinely love to hear about them. Chat to me in the comments.
Until Next Time,