Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 124 (December 1947)
Matteo, Henry S.
Christmas customs, pp. -5 PDF (2.0 MB)
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
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