Saturday, June 22, 2013

Christmas in Vor Pommern

Late in November the mother of the household gathered greens for the Advent Wreath. She placed four tall candles on a red and white tablecloth and greens around the window frames that gave a fragrance of pine throughout the house. The advent wreath was hung from the ceiling or placed on the table. One candle was lit on the first Sunday of December and one every Sunday until all were ready to glow together on Christmas Eve.

Der Weihnachtsmann, the "Christmas Man" would come knocking on the doors the first Sunday of Advent. He was usually a tall thin man with brown hair and a short beard, wearing a long tan coat with big bulging pockets. One of the pockets was filled with sweets, the other with note pads and pencils for the children to write on. He also wore a huntsman's hat with a sprig of green around the crown. He asked if the children wanted anything special for Christmas. They would hand him little notes with their requests. In some of the households the children would invite the Christmas man in and sing their wishes to him. They believed that he would deliver the gifts himself, to save the Christ Child work and they included all of the family in the last verse.

The families sang Christmas songs such as "Away in the Manger " or "Joy to the World" every evening. At dusk on Christmas Eve the family would sit down for a candlelight meal. They would have hot spiced cider, appetizers such as Kock Käse mit Schwartzbrot (cooked cheese spread with dark bread), Heringe Nach Hausfrauenart (pickled creamed herring) and Rugenwald tea sausage. After they ate the mother of the family would herd all the children into one area of the house and told them to close their eyes. The parents would sing "O Come Little Children." When the children turned around they were told to open their eyes to see the firtree on the table with candles glowing on it. The tips of each branch had a small cross ornament, gilded nuts and colored glass ornaments. Everyone sang "O Tannenbaum" and the father would sing "From Heaven High" (Martin Luther's Children's Hymn).  The mother many times would play the harpsichord.

On Christmas morning there were crocheted and knitted gifts under the tree. They consisted of mittens or socks and fruit. Choirboys from the church were caroling in the streets. Bells rang from the church. The family then attended church services and after arriving home ate a Christmas dinner. The meal consisted of Kirschsuppe (warm cherry soup with dumplings), Pommerscher Gansebraten with stuffing (roast goose), Rotkohl mit Apfeln (red cabbage with apples) and Sulz were Christmas Specialties. Sulz was made from diced veal, carrots, celery, root and onion seasoned to taste and molded in its own liquid, sometimes thick enough to slice and always-served cold. There was dark rye bread filled with caraway seed, an assortment of smoked fish and meat sliced thin and various kinds of sausages. Dinner ended with sweets such as Kuchen, Schokolade pudding (steamed chocolate pudding with hard sauce), Klötternüsse cookies and candy.

Martha and Les Riggle, WitchitaKansas
Elaine Kraft, Cedarburg Wisconsin
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper December 11, 2002
The Christmas Keeping Germans by Neita Oviatt Friend, Eagles Nest Publications Hartland Wisconsin 53029

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