Christmas in Koenigsberg East Prussia before 1945
While preparing for this past Christmas here in Healdsburg, California I was thinking about the big difference of celebrating this momentous occasion.
When we were children our tree was never seen by us Children until Christmas Eve when dressed and lit in it full glory. Our tree was in our library behind locked doors. We five children tried often to get a glimpse before we were be able to get to see the tree and all the gifts. Another big difference was that our presents were put in front of us while we were sitting around a huge library table, the presents were never wrapped.
We children had to recite a Christmas poem each and sing our hearts out. It was more formal but still we kids were so excited. By the way Christmas Eve is the big day not Christmas Day like all over Europe (except England).
All the gifts were given to us Christmas Eve. After that we had a scrumptious dinner which we kids picked out for the cook to make. Sometimes it was a weird combination of various dishes.
Christmas Day involved going to Church. After Church we had Christmas Dinner at midday - usually Goose or Duck with all the trimmings.
After marrying Marc and coming to the U.S. our Christmas’ became a combination of Marc’s and my Childhood.
While our children were growing up we did not put up our tree until the evening before Christmas Eve. The children would not see the tree lit until Christmas Eve with music playing and special candles lit everywhere. Marc took the children on a drive and while they were gone, Kris Kringle came and put the presents under the tree. Marc and I decided that one major present will be brought from Santa during the night.
Our Children loved the idea of opening presents twice. The first Christmas after Marc died was a very tough one. My two oldest sons Walter and Neal helped me with buying presents. Kurt and Heidi wanted a bike so badly so I did get them each a bike with thoughts that it might help with their grief. In retrospect my thinking was not very smart, nothing material could ever help with grief.
My friend Melinda joined us this first Christmas Eve and Day without Marc - that made things lighter for all of us.
After moving to Healdsburg I changed some traditions yet again to some extent. Living on my own after keeping up the old way I decided to go with the flow and put my tree up 10 to 12 days before Christmas and enjoy the beauty of it. However as in the old days my tree stays up until the 12th day of Christmas.
We still celebrate Christmas Eve the German way and have a wonderful Christmas dinner on Christmas day. Christmas Eve we have Shrimp Leek Soup and that has been a tradition since living in Ottumwa, Iowa in the 60’s and 70’s. Some traditions need to be upheld for future generations.
The Shrimp Leek Soup is posted on a previous blog:
“2012 Has Arrived”.
Christmas is past but I will post this blog anyway for all to see the differences celebrating Christmas!
A Happy, Healthy New Year to all!