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Kreis Greifenberg- A Kreis of the Duchy of Pommern

 

Christmas in Pomerania

 

"Froehliche Weihnachten" -  The favorite daytime meal on the day before Christmas consisted of "Bockwurst und Kartoffelsalat"  (sausage and potato salad), as the homemakers were then better able to prepare for the evening's more elaborate meal and the "Bescherung" (present giving). 

At dusk on Christmas Eve, friends would gather and treated with "Feuerzangebowle!", a Pomeranian type of sweetened, spiced, and heated wine.  When the guests were seated, they were served appetizers of "Kock Kase mit Schwartzbrot" (cooked cheese spread with dark bread), "Heringe Nach Hausfrauenart" (pickled creamed herring) and Rugenwald tea sausage.  The hospitality rules were more relaxed than at other times.  Christmas was a time when family and very close friends celebrated together and most non-family activities were suspended for the week. 

.Dinner was by candlelight and began with "Kirschsuppe" (warm cherry soup with dumplings). The main course was "Pommerscher Gansebraten" (roast goose with stuffing) served with gravy, "Rotkohl mit Apfeln" (red cabbage with apples), and "Knoedel" (potato dumplings).  Many families also included "Blue Carp, poached in vinegar and served with horseradish and sweet whipped cream, boiled salted potatoes garnished with parsley and butter.  Dessert was "Schokolade Pudin" (steamed chocolate pudding with hard sauce) and "Klotternusse Keks" cookies.  Other delicacies of the season served as in-between snacks, included"Christstollen" (long loaves of bread filled with nuts, dried fruit, citron, and raisins), "Lebkuchen" (spice bars), "Reisbrei" (a rice pudding flavored with sweet cinnamon), and white sausage, 

The goose was stuffed with vegetables rather than the bread stuffing of Americans.  To prepare a "Feuerzangenbowle", you need red wine, rum, oranges juice, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves.  All lights in the room should be dimmed to provide the appropriate atmosphere.  The rum-soaked sugar is lit and as the flames leap up,  the sugar drips into the spiced wine. 

Those who do not eat well on Christmas Eve will be haunted by demons during the night, therefore "Dickbauch" (fat stomach) is a name given for this opportunity to eat so well and so much.  

The Christmas tree, according to tradition, originated in Germany.  It is believed that Martin Luther began the tradition of bringing a fir tree into the home.  One Christmas Eve he brought an evergreen tree into his daughters nursery for her to enjoy since the weather was too bad for her to go outside.  He decorated the tree with candles.

The tree has a mysterious magic for the children because they are not allowed to see it until Christmas Eve.   Usually the children are occupied with the Christmas Eve church service and when they arrive home the Christmas Tree has appeared, usually in the "parlor," that special room that is only used for special occasions.  The tree is decorated with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, tinsel, family treasures,candles and the presents have been placed under the tree. As the children enter this fantastic room, the candles are lit, the Christmas story is read and/or carols are sung, and the gifts are opened.  The Christmas tree lights and candles are essential to the Pomeranians Christmas celebration.

On Christmas Eve in Germany, according to legend, rivers turn to wine, animals speak to each other, trees bear fruit, mountains open up to reveal precious gems, and church bells can be heard ringing from the bottom of the sea. Of course, only the pure in heart can witness this Christmas magic. All of the others must be content with traditional German celebrating, of which there is plenty. As a matter of fact, there is so much celebrating that it has to begin on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day.

As in many other European countries, on the eve of December 6th, children place a shoe or boot by the fireplace. During the night, St. Nicholas, travels from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all of the misdeeds of the children are written. If they have been good, he fills the shoe or boot with delicious holiday edibles. If they have not been good, their shoe is filled with twigs.

Die Wienachten Rose, the Christmas Rose -  A Christmas tradition in Pomerania that originated in about the 12th cnetury, at a time when the populous still had not converted to Christianity and Pagan customs prevailed.  It is said that the German bishop, Otto Von Bamberg, made a visit to Stettin and converted some of the residents.  Many of the newly converted Christians died because of their beliefs.  There was an old man who lived in a small village near Stettin, who was a Christian, but kept it a secret out of fear of persecution.  However, one of his neighbors betrayed him to the Pagan priests, which resulted in him being jailed and sentenced to death.  The heathen priests taunted and ridiculed him, and said, "If your God is so powerful, let Him make flowers bloom here in the middle of winter," then you will be set free.  The old man prayed throughout the night, but, in the morning he was led to the public hanging tree.  Lo and behold, there, under the old oak tree, flowers were in full bloom.  They were to become known as the "Christmas Rose."

    It is believed that the Crossbeak, a rare bird that nests and broods in this northern area at Christmas time, had carried the seed from the south.  With this sign the Pomeranians  accepted Christianity.

 


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