I have never heard so much hype about Christmas before. Every single German person I meet oozes with excitement when talking about the festivities. My boyfriend drones on about it from August as though it is a magical kingdom. German tradition also makes a big deal of the day. Four weeks before Christmas, Germans start lighting advent candles to mark that it is drawing nearer. In the first week of advent they light one candle, in the second two, this continues until they have four lit candles in the week of Christmas.
As my boyfriend is partly German and French I also imagined that Christmas at his house would be a lovely hybrid of the two. With all of this build up, I was looking forward to Christmas more than usual this year.
Christmas did not start with the morning glee that I am used to. German people celebrate Christmas on the evening of 24th December which they call ‘Holy Night’. So instead of accidentally on purpose waking my family up to open presents as I usually do on the morning of 25th, I just had quite a normal day. Towards the evening things started getting more festive as we headed to church. I was not enthused when I was told that some of us, including me, would be acting like punctual, organised German people and be reserving seats for the entire family one hour before the service started. I imagined that the church would be freezing cold but was happy to finally start Christmas. Waiting in the church was better than I imagined. I had put on seven million layers so was actually hot.There was a colourful murial on the wall complete with a Jesus who did not look like a pale faced european man, which was an nice change to all of the British Jesus’ that I had seen.
As expected in Germany,the pastor did the service in German. As my Deutsch language skills stop at ‘I would like a tea with milk please’ my boyfriend translated the gist of the service to me. The pastor told the nativity story. We then sang hymns. I found singing in German fun as I enjoyed the challenge of trying to pronounce the words whilst also trying to guess the songs tune. After a service that I did not understand, this was very entertaining to me. After the service everybody hugged and wished one another a Happy Christmas.I liked this community aspect of the service and may even try to persuade my family to give up our Festive WWF fight to check out some churches in London on Christmas day. After church, it was finally time to get Christmas started. In keeping with French tradition, we each put a shoe in front of the Christmas tree which ‘Santa Claus’ filled with presents. We adapted the tradition by putting the presents in front of the shoes as our gifts had evolved in size since the practice began. We opened the presents starting with the youngest, which just happened to be me.
At around 8.30 that evening, we sat down to a French-inspired multi course dinner. It began with an aperitif which is traditionally a drink and some snacks. Then we ate a starter, main, salad course and cheese course. French people traditionally eat an ice cream log on Christmas day. My boyfriend’s mum upgraded this to an ice cream house.
The food was gorgeous. Despite the slow start, my French German Christmas ended very well.
© Cultural Magpie