University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 124 (December 1947)

Matteo, Henry S.
Christmas customs,   pp. [3]-5 PDF (2.0 MB)


Page [3]


A-& in thousands of homes in Ger-
many, particularly where children
are present. This will be the signal
for the start of a Christmas celebra-
tion that, among some families,' will
extend -into the early hours of the
next day.
The bell-ringing is one of the many
old Christmas customs practiced in
Germany. To the children it is a sign
that "Old Man Christmas" (Weih-
nachtsmann) is on his way with
eagerly-awaited gifts. It heralds the
traditional singing of-Christmas carols
and old German songs, the exchange
of gifts, dining, and sometimes an en-
gagement announcement.
Shortly before the celebration be-
gins the children are sent for a walk
- to get them out of the way while
their parents put the finishing tovch-
es to the Christmas tree. Mother
also is busy cooking the Christmas
Eve meal.
For months she has been preparing
for this occasion, setting aside a bit
of flour, a bit of fat, and perhaps a
teaspoon of sugar from her strictly-
rationed larder, to be used in making
cookies, cakes, sweets, and other
special treats. If mother is living in
the Bizonal Area, her family's food
supplies have been supplemented by
an extra holiday ration of slightly
more than half a pound of sweets,
authorized by the US and British
occupation authorities for each child
and youth from one to 20 years of
age.
A room reserved for the Christmas
tree also is the scene of the Christ-
mas Eve meal. The room is custom-
arily locked for a week before
Christmas while father sets up and
decorates the tree. He places the
prying eyes.
The tree is lighted with candles
and decorated with tinsel, cotton,
bulbs, and other ornaments much in
the same manner as in the United
States. As a matter of tradition the
Christmas tree had its origin in Ger-
many and was introduced in America
by German immigrants.
M OTHER OR FATHER stands in
the room  on Christmas Eve,
and rings a bell. The other members
of the family enter, singing "'Stille
Nacht" and "O Tannenbaum=' In
some sections of Germany the cele-
brants sing after they have entered
the room.
There is a knock on the door, and
"Old Man Christmas," attired in the
traditional red suit, black boots and
white whiskers, and carrying a gift-
laden bag on his shoulder, exters. (In
homes where there are no children,
the gifts already are under the tree
or an a nearby table). He chides the
A typical Christmas scene in a German home (Photo by BYERS)
22 DECEMBER 1947
Histories 'and  encyclopedia
were scanned, authorities on Ger-
man folklore were consulted; and
many Germans were interviewed
by Mr. Matteo in collecting the
material for the article or Christ-
mas Customs.
Mr. Matteo, who is assistant
editor of the Weekly Infor-
mation Bulk tin, was formerly
on the copy desk of The Stars
and Stripes. : During and imn-
mediately after the war he was
an editor with the Office of War
Information in New York, Lon-
don and Luxembourg.
Mr. Matteo worked on news-
papers in Albany. N. Y., and
Scbenectady, N. Y., and was with
the United Press for seven years
in the Albany, Boston, and Hart-
lord, Conn., bureaus. He Is a
native of Albany.
I


Go up to Top of Page