Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Grandparents' Christmas

originally posted 12/20/11

Inez Heyman Campbell and Malcolm Alan Campbell

My grandma was German and Swiss. My Grandpa was Scottish and Swiss, with Dutch also.

"In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside. In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents."

"In Switzerland, the Chlausjagen Festival or Feast of St. Nichohlas is celebrated at dusk on 6 December with a procession of "lifeltrager' wearing gigantic illuminated lanterns in the shape of a Bishop's mitre on their heads. The Swiss wait for the Christ child called Christkindli, to arrive with gifts for all in his reindeer-drawn sleigh. In Switzerland, during the holiday season the Star Singers or Sternsingersdressed as the Three Kings parade through the streets of cities and towns singing Christmas songs." Switzerland has no country-wide state religion, though most of the cantons (except for Geneva and Neuchâtel) recognize official churches (Landeskirchen), in all cases including the Catholic Church and the Swiss Reformed Church. These churches, and in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations...

My Swiss ancestors that emigrated were Anabaptist or Amish.

"The Scottish people have their big celebrations on New Year's Day, calledHogmanay. A long time ago there is a superstition that it is bad luck for the fire to go out on Christmas Eve, since it is at this time that the elves are abroad and only a raging fire will keep them from coming down the chimney.On Christmas day, people sometimes make big bonfires and dance around them to the playing of bagpipes. Bannock cakes made of oatmeal are traditionally eaten at Christmas. In Scotland, Christmas had traditionally been celebrated very quietly, because the Church of Scotland - the Presbyterian Church - has never placed any great emphasis on the Christmas festival."

My Scottish ancestors were Presbyterian.

"St Nicholas arrives early in Holland with his gifts, in November. He is dressed in Bishop's robes and journeys in a boat with his helper who is called Black Peter and who wears Spanish clothes. It is said that the pair live most of the year preparing lists of presents and writing every child's behavior in a very large book. Many people go to Amsterdam docks to greet him. He mounts a snow horse and rides through the streets in a great parade, amid many festivities. December 5th is Sinterklaas Eve or Sinterklass Eve, and presents are given and received."

Grandpa made this special tree for Christmases, with candle holders, and Grandma always made gingerbread ornaments.

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