My family was blessed to live in Berlin, Germany for nearly three and a half years. I’m sure my recollections, impressions, experiences, and tradition-collecting from our time there will crop up a lot in this blog, but in my first few months one of the things that stood out most clearly were the Sundays in Advent. Everywhere you looked there were signs, banners, and wreaths proclaiming Fröhlichen ersten Advent! Happy First Advent! Can you imagine? In grocery stores, on buses, at the mall?!? And people would greet you that way as well. I was bowled over. And it continued on throughout Advent. Happy Second Advent! Happy Third Advent! And on it went. Candles were lit appropriately in public places, and even signs were updated to keep up with the right weeks and the right candle. I just loved it.Germans really know how to “do” Christmas. They gave us the Christmas tree, after all, complete with its vision of twinkling lights and cheery décor. And nearby Austria gave us our beloved “Silent Night.” Even our modern image of Saint Nicholas was drawn by a German-American political cartoonist and illustrator, Thomas Nast.
And they have the most marvelous outdoor Christmas markets, running for four to six weeks leading up to Christmas, and filled with the most delightful food, drinks, sights, and sounds you can imagine. We brought home so many wonderful traditions and trinkets from our time in Germany, but among my favorites is our Advent wreath.
The suspended Advent wreath is so much the norm in Germany and other parts of Europe that you will even find images of it depicted in ornaments (like the hand-painted pewter ornament pictured above, from Kathe Wohlfahrt, a famous German manufacturer of all things Christmas in Germany). When we returned from Germany, our new home had a very sturdy pot rack centered over our kitchen island. It turned out to be the perfect structure for hanging an Advent wreath! Yeah! And as an added bonus, it’s out of reach of little people’s hands, and it frees up space on the table for more Advent and Christmas items. But more on those later…
Happy First Advent!
I am a homeschooling mom of six kids, married to a patient, supportive, and crazy smart husband, whom I met on the internet in the days of screaming modems. Raised on the east coast, I am happily raising my family in the midwest. I love to collect and share traditions, recipes, prayers, crafts, and activities for living out the Catholic Faith in my home and family.