It loses a lot in translation but “Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt…” heralds the start of the Advent season here in Germany. A special time of winter cosiness, reflection and family traditions, all of which are built into our Advent candle display, this year like every year:
Four candles celebrating each season of the year gone by, family touches, memories and reflections on life’s constants:
What a fine finale to the Festival of Winter we enjoyed yesterday, 6th January, all in one bike ride back from the wintry orchard:
The winter solstice is upon us and with it the “Mittwinterfest”, or Yule – celebrating the rebirth of the sun as we (slowly) turn the corner towards the light half of the year again…
It is an ancient festival featuring countless legends, rituals and symbols, not to mention the many omens – each of the twelve days of Yule are said to predict the weather in the corresponding twelve months to come, for instance. In the Germanic and northern European tradition, the twelve days of Yule therefore had to be a time of peace, as well, and a time of no work so that there would be less work to be done in the new year. Spinning and weaving, in particular, were forbidden and all the flax had to be spun before the start of Yule. Only the Goddess Frig (Frigg, Freyja), the Germanic goddess of love, was allowed to weave together the threads of destiny for the coming year… No work involving a circular motion was permitted at this time either, because the wheel of time was at a standstill during Yule and so every other wheel had to remain motionless too…
All quiet in the orchard at this time of the year (but Hermann the German is sharpening up his specialist tree pruning saw for the winter pruning due to start any weekend now…) so we (mainly me and sometimes Mini-Kraut) have been busy in the kitchen creating some more exhibits for our gingerbread gallery.
This year’s main creation has to remain a secret for the time being until this year’s Christmas Guests of Honour have been able to peruse and applaud it live, but we have been busy baking building components for lucky recipients in the neighbourhood, complete with building instructions, in German:
Here are a few flashbacks to past creations where we have gained all this skill and experience 🙂
2016:Recreated in gingerbread, the little village in the Wiesent Valley, close to Erlangen, where we like to spend our holidays and long weekends
2015:The tree house that collapsed and became a forest hideaway (Waldversteck)
Featuring four candles representing the four seasons enjoyed during the course of the year, the candles on the Advent wreath are lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays preceding the “Wend”, the Winter Solstice, now ‘Christianised’ as Christmas Eve (in Germany) or Christmas Day (in the Anglo Saxon realm).
In our family we celebrate Advent as a four week festival of remembrance of all the good things the four seasons have brought us in the past year.
Join us on social media for a daily stroll through the seasons this Advent: TheOrchardScribe
This post is for Chris & Debbie, gin connoisseurs of note. You know who you are!
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness will soon be making way for frosts and mellow indulgence: get the sloe gin going in time for you-know-what (begins with C…) 🙂
Pick as many sloes as you fancy (either after the first frosts or when ripe and then freeze overnight before using – the freezing/frost breaks down the sugar in the fruit making it easier to release its flavour).
Prick them all over with a pin.
Pour a bottle of gin into a large (sterilised) jar with lid (or two large jars), add the sloes together with one (or more depending on your taste) slit vanilla pod.
Leave in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks (can be left for much longer too) before filtering and bottling. Will keep indefinitely and matures with age.
Typically featuring four candles representing the four seasons enjoyed during the course of the year, the candles on the Advent wreath are lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays preceding the “Wend”, the Winter Solstice, now ‘Christianised’ as Christmas Eve (in Germany) or Christmas Day (in the Anglo Saxon realm).
And the first week of Advent is going to be about: