Yuletide traditions have their roots in ancient festivals and observations. Giving greeting cards or placing candles on a fresh cut fir tree can trace their origins to “someone” who came up with the idea. Sadly, most of these individuals are not recorded in human history.
In many cities and villages in the Western Culture there are Christmas Markets which can trace their origins to Germany. Germany has so many Christmas markets (an estimated 1500 of them) one would have to spend a considerable amount of time there to visit them all in December.
Stollen (a sweet bread) is traceable back to the 1400s in Dresden, Germany. If you have never experienced the unique taste of this specialty bread, you are missing out on a yuletide tradition. A tidbit of its history with a recipe for either regular or vegan stollen is in the links below. You owe it to yourself to sample this delicacy.
Wassail is a festive Anglo-Saxon drink which has a rich tradition associated with singing and visitation. Listed below is its history as well as recipes.
Now, I tend to make my own Wassail. Listed below is my recipe. https://lochgarry.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/wassail-a-different-taste/
One old tradition is the giving of the Christmas pickle (Die Weihnachtsgurke). Now, this has been attributed to an ancient German custom, but the Germans disavow that it originated with them. Whoever came up with this idea has been sadly forgotten over time.
Reflecting on childhood Christmases of the past:
As children we made popcorn garlands for the tree. I think we ate more popcorn instead of making a tree garland with thread.
Our maternal grandmother would add a few drops of food coloring –red, green and blue-to the batch of corn popping on the old wood stove. Her white porcelain kettle was as big as a grandfather’s chamber pot.
When the Christmas Eve snow fell, we would dress up and go out to gather the manna from the night heavens. Adding a bit of vanilla, sugar and some peppermint pieces, the snow made a delicious dessert.
On Christmas morn our wool stockings would be filled with apples, oranges, walnuts, and other nutritious goodies. Cinnamon rolls and buttermilk biscuits would be baking in the oven as fresh eggs from the hen house were being scrambled on the stove top seasoned with some fresh dill from the row of herbs in the kitchen window. Of course there was butter, honey and maple syrup aplenty.
For Christmas dinner family and friends would brave the elements to traverse up the snow-covered hill to the old log farm house. You had to walk because the hill, when snow covered, was too slippery for a vehicle—even a truck.
It was a grand time back in those days before the season became so commercialized and sterile. Alas, all of those faces around the Christmas table, except for us children, have faded from our family traditions. But memories of yuletide still linger for us as we grow older and embrace each passing season.
Whatever your yuletide tradition embrace it with zest. Don’t only live this yuletide season but thrive in the joy of the season.
Leave some yuletide traditions which your children and grandchildren will remember fondly as the years roll by on this planet traversing the cosmos.
Like the song with many traditions in its lyrics:
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know that Santa’s on his way;
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother’s child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.
And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
to kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it’s been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you
G. D. Williams © 2014
All photographs are property of the Loch Garry Blog. Permission is granted to use them if this site is mentioned. No commercial use is allowed.
The German Christmas Markets
The Christmas Pickle
The German Christmas Pickle
The Christmas Pickle with Jar Ornament
The Carol of the Christmas Pickle PG-13