How to Enjoy a Continental Christmas


I’ve always been something of an odd bod when it comes to Christmas which is to say that the way I celebrate is quite different to the way that my friends and colleagues celebrate – the main difference for this being (other than the fact that I am an odd bod) that I’m half German and a quarter Polish meaning that my family liked to do things in a kind of mish mash of those two ways. However while it might have been od, it was also very pleasant, and after introducing it to my girlfriend I’ve realised that it’s something that really anyone can appreciate. So if you want to try doing Christmas a bit differently this year and enjoy a slightly new atmosphere… read on! Christmas Eve The first thing to recognize is that the big bit in Germany or Poland is not on Christmas Day, but rather on Christmas Eve. That’s when you open the presents at least, and for me this always seemed like the highlight with Christmas dinner the next day being a side attraction. The idea is that there is no Christmas tree in the living room at all right up until Christmas Eve, when one of the parents/grandparents will take the children out of the house for a while to do something fun. During this window of opportunity, those remaining will then rush around in order to bring out the Christmas tree, and to then decorate it to look as though it has appeared by magic when the child returns – and of course it has, Santa brought it after all. Now you don’t just dig in to the presents, but rather the whole family has to wait until the it’s dark enough that the first star has come out (you make an exception if it’s cloudy). This of course also builds anticipation for the children and means that when you do finally open them it’s all the sweeter. Setting the Scene What I find so pleasant about this way of doing Christmas is that the evening setting makes it a lot more atmospheric and even romantic than opening the presents first thing in the morning – particularly when you’re waiting for those stars to come out. You can enhance this mood further though with your decorations. For instance make sure that the Christmas tree is decorated to be fitting for the evening with lots of blues, silvers and whites. If you want to go the full hog you can even take it further by putting on some German Christmas carols which I’ve always found to be very relaxing and atmospheric. The other favourite part for me as a child though was always the lebkuchen. These are ginger bread treats covered in chocolate or icing, which if you have often enough can come to represent the ‘taste’ of Christmas. We also had these along with the carols on each advent leading up to Christmas when we would also light a candle on the reef. Give it a go this Christmas, and try something new!}

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