I don’t consider myself a practicing Christian, yet continue to practice – and relish – Christmas, at least certain aspects. In a globalizing and homogenizing world, traditions have the power to ground and to offer a sense of belonging.
My recent journey to Europe coincided with the holiday season and re-exposed me to some of these cherished traditions. Opening one door of my advent calendar daily, from December 1 through the 24th, to discover a different piece of chocolate, used to be my favorite childhood activity, other than opening presents on Christmas Eve. It still is, even when I am content to find something other than candy behind each door.
I experienced two advent Sundays in Germany, and with them, the festive lighting of the first two candles of the advent wreath. For the illumination of the 3rd and 4th, I will be back in Colorado.
Towns and homes I visited were bedecked with seasonal decorations, with each family adding its own touches, thereby beautifying human habitations and gladdening the senses.
Christmas markets, famous beyond Germany’s borders, were in plain evidence. While I did not seek them out, I happened across them wherever I went. Berlin seemed to showcase one on each public plaza. As I am no lover of large crowds, I did not linger long after absorbing the atmosphere. What appeared to be a serious case of associated shopping frenzy acted as additional deterrent.
November and December weather tends to consist of cool, covered, or rainy skies in many regions of Germany, but I was surprised by a series of snowfalls, albeit short ones. A walk through the wintry woods with my father created one of my favorite memories for this trip. ❤
While the ways to interpret the meaning of Christmas are as manifold as ice crystals, my fervent hope against hope continues to be that, one day, we might all embrace one of its central tenets: Peace on Earth.
Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version: