November 25, 2008

Christmas the German way

Aside from the apparent religious significance of Christmas, maybe Filipinos go overboard with it to compensate the lack of “natural” Christmas feel. In Germany, we’d know when to get into the merry mood, simply by stepping out of the door, feeling the chilly wind and smelling the snow. These past couple of days I've been down with the flu today, but outside it's 32º degrees and I don’t know how many percentage of humidity; I find it hard to actually keep in mind what season I am in if it wasn’t for all the visual hints! But then again, that’s probably just the European girl in me. 

Suddenly “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” has a whole new meaning for me. A song that was just one of the many carols heard on the radio, suddenly makes perfect sense. I miss snow. I barely know how to ski, I’m horribly cold all the time (even in the most tropical countries), and I consider winter wear extremely unsexy. But I miss snow. Back in Germany, a hot cocoa in your hand, sitting on the window board on top of the heater, looking out of the window, Christmas has a whole difference feel than here in Manila. The thick snowflakes floating around until they softly hit the ground, the whole town thrown under a white coat and the Christmas lights shining bright against it… It’s a very peaceful and calm scene. 

In Manila, life doesn’t slow down around Christmas; on the contrary I tend to think it speeds up. More colors, more lights, more sounds. While I can’t have snow, I at least started setting up the décor in my place the way we used back home. A German tradition that we have adopted is the “Adventskranz”: it is basically a decorated wreath with 4 candles, one for each Sunday a month before Christmas. I went to SM earlier and after quite some running around, I found enough materials to craft my own "Adventskranz". That way every Sunday, around the usual coffee and Christmas cookies afternoon snack, I'll light a candle reminding me how many weeks are left before the big celebration. 

Another tradition of anticipation is the “Adventskalender”; for those impatient children who think every Sunday is too long a wait. The calendar has 24 doors, behind each of which is hidden a surprise, usually a chocolate. Although it is considered to be for children, my sister and I still go on with this tradition and I hope I can continue it with my children one day. So despite the lack of meteorological conditions, I try my best to maintain rituals like those, to remember where I come from and the good memories I link to my multicultural upbringing!


Chinkee said...

Aww... Matt misses Christmas in Germany too. Its true what you said about Christmases here... life actually get a lot crazier during this season. I can just imagine what its like to just bundle up inside your house and watch the freshly-falling snow outside. It must look like a dream...:-)

Willy Nagtegaal said...

This is my first year in the Philippines and we went back to Holland to share the family spirit for longer than just Christmas Eve. The cover of snow just makes the world wonderful and we did have snow back home; we were so lucky!
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