Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide and Thank You!
Thank you for being here, for whatever reason, whatever the name of your family, and wherever you are from. Christmas is a celebration generally associated with Christianity celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is also associated with, and probably originates from, ancient pagan customs celebrating the winter solstice such as Yule. These marked the end of ever-shortening daylight hours (in the northern hemisphere) and in some cultures, the “(re)birth of the sun.” Not surprising then that cultures which have their origin in more equatorial climes have no specific celebration for this season.
Nevertheless, in today’s world, people from all cultures and traditions live together; this is especially so in the Nuremberg region. Some celebrate Christmas, and some don’t, others celebrate but at differing times. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas Day on the 7th of January (according to the Gregorian calendar). For other Christians, Christmas continues until the celebration of Candelmas on the 2nd of February which marks the end of the Christmas–Epiphany season.
So at English Post, where our members and our readership are from many different regions and cultures, we would like to take the opportunity this Yuletide to say thank you to everyone just for being here. For being our brothers and sisters, because we are one family – there are no “races”, only one humankind. For being our companions who helped us in times of need and our competitors who drove us forward. For being our friends who supported us and our foes who showed us our weaknesses. All are necessary parts of a single, tolerant, human society.
Thanks also to those who have supported English Post during the last year and a very special thanks to all those who have contributed to English Post and without whom we would not exist.
As I considered what I should share about my Christmas plans for 2020, my mind quickly went to the list of spoiled hopes that the pandemic has brought. It is so easy in these times to roll out our list of grievances: the losses, the hardship, and the fear that each month has doled out. So much more in the winter season with all its long-held traditions: the way it should have been, who should have been with us… but I’ve had enough of these thoughts. Instead, I will turn my mind back to something more solid: that which remains, those who are here, that which is new. Back to the old Christmas story of the small flame of hope igniting in the midst of the darkness. I will focus instead on my tidings of comfort and joy.
After four years of a Christmas holiday filled with long flights and jetlag, this is the first Christmas I will actually celebrate in Germany. It is also the first Christmas I will celebrate with my newly-wed German husband, and the first few weeks of December have already brought a lovely mash of traditions. I decorated my first Adventskranz (a wreath with four candles – one lit for each advent Sunday) and our Christmas tree, brought in at the beginning of December instead of the 24th (as is typical in Germany) is now decorated with an eclectic collection of German straw stars and Californian sailboating Santas. Our Christmas Eve will be celebrated with fondue and for Christmas dinner we will feast on honeybaked ham. Between Zoom calls overseas and socially-distanced walks with the family on this side of the ocean, we will spend time with our loved ones as best as the conditions allow. And despite all the let-downs of this year, we are still holding out for a white Christmas!
I haven’t been back to Canada for 2 years now. This isn’t my first Christmas staying in Germany; the difference is that this time I would’ve liked to make a trip back. I don’t have a very big family; Christmas isn’t a big dinner with twenty people and a giant feast. There used to be a few of us when I was a kid, but more recently it’s just been my mother and I enjoying the day as if it were any other. I’d insist on taking the tree out earlier in the month and decorating it and we’d watch classics like A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life. These are never things you’d actively seek out to watch, but which you sit through anyway “because it’s on TV”. However, last year during my Christmas in Nuremberg I found myself actively looking for them, as if the holiday would otherwise be incomplete. I suppose I will do so again this year, after all, certain traditions must be upheld!
It’s funny, because to me Christmas isn’t really the day itself, but everything leading up to it. It’s seeing twinkly lights in store shops and drinking Glühwein at Christmas markets with your friends; it’s listening to the classics that drive everyone crazy and re-watching old Christmas specials. Once the 25th rolls around, all that is over.
Nevertheless, I finally have some well-deserved time off from work and look forward to the small simple pleasures enjoyed while staying home for the holidays. This year my boyfriend and I will take turns cooking on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, just the two of us, and despite this rollercoaster of a year, to me, that’s enough.
Despite the current uncertainty of whether I’m going to be allowed to reach my family back in Italy or not, I can be sure in any case that this Christmas is going to have a completely different taste.
In normal times, in this period of the year I’d be taken in by the eagerness of buying gifts for my loved ones, of arranging meetings with friends, and feasting on gorgeous Christmas lunches with my parents. Conviviality is particularly important in Italy and represents one of our most characteristic traits. As a famous saying goes: “Christmas with your parents, Easter with whomever you want” (Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi) and I’m not one to ignore traditions.
This time, however, it all seems a bit sterile to me, from the whole Christmas atmosphere to the upcoming celebrations, like when you are infected and can’t taste or smell anything. Even touching one another isn’t necessarily appreciated or can be viewed with suspicion or even be dangerous.
Maybe I’m just getting older…but what I do know is that I will treasure this experience with all its negative feelings and sensations. And when it’s all over, I’ll return to celebrate with more awareness than before. Nothing is taken for granted.
We do not celebrate Christmas in Kyrgyzstan, however, in a similar vein, we celebrate New Year (December 31st) which is a big and important holiday for us. Initially, I wanted to meet my parents and my best friend outside of Germany to celebrate New Year and another big event but unfortunately, it was impossible – embassies do not currently issue guest or travel visas to people who want to enter the Schengen area because of the coronavirus situation. As for Christmas, fortunately, I am going to spend it in another beautiful country, where I will enjoy the company of my close people, delicious food and good weather.
Жаңы жылыңыздар менен, урматтуу кыргызстандыктар! ❤️
С Новым Годом, друзья!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
As I was born and brought up in Bangladesh, Christmas was just another holiday instead of any traditional celebration. But when I moved to Germany, Christmas turned out to be one of my favorite holiday seasons because this is simply the best occasion to see the lights and colors amidst the long winter. Especially the Christmas markets are quite appealing with all its exhibitions of different sweet and savory things. This year, it has been all changed due to the pandemic we have been dealing with. I was supposed to visit my family during the Christmas holiday, but I refrained from traveling to Bangladesh for the sake of safety. Afterwards, me and my husband planned to celebrate the season with our close friends here. Unfortunately, we had to cancel that plan as well since the virus is spreading out again. Despite being unable to do a lot of things, I decided to stay optimistic about our life. If my dear family and friends are safe and healthy, everything will be normal and wonderful at some point, no matter how far we are away now. 2020 is the year of care and survival. And so, my ultimate (!) plan for the upcoming Christmas is to bake cake and cookies, which I hope I can do (fingers crossed)!!!