Happy second week of Advent!
Many people have asked lately how Germans celebrate the time leading up to Christmas. Advent it the period of four weeks leading up to Christmas Day and it is celebrated widely here. I was caught off guard the Friday before the first of Advent as I was checking out at the store the sales clerk wished me a, “Frohes erste Advent!” I paused and just looked at her wondering how I was actually supposed to respond. While in the US people in customer service cannot say Merry Christmas to customers, here they can wish that and a happy Advent season. Advent is huge here, it is the kick off the start of the Christmas season. It is such a known and revered point that some people refuse to shop in stores that decorate for Christmas before the first Sunday of Advent and the Christmas markets open up the week leading up to it. The stores are filled with Advents calendars for young and old beginning at the end of October, and if you wait too long you’ll end up with whatever was left (I have done this two years running now). Those corner flower shops? They begin selling Advents wreaths in November.
What are we doing for Advent? This year I decided that having an Advent “wreath” was important based on the fact that they are everywhere. I know ours isn’t really a wreath but I haven’t met an Advent wreath yet that I’ve wanted to bring home so I made our own. In addition to having an Advent decoration the kids have candy calendars that they open once a day after we have read from a devotional. This year we are reading through John Piper’s book Good News of Great Joy. Yesterday we received another calendar from our church and each day has something written in it: something to read from scripture, a reflection, or something to do to spread the joy of the season.
What else happens here leading up to Christmas? Christmas markets of course! We have only visited one so far this year, but are hoping to pop into a few more as December goes on. The kids look forward to crepes and asking for no less that one thing at every booth we get close to. This year I have a list of a couple traditional foods I have yet to try that I hope to find at a market. (For the curious: Chestnuts and Schmalzbrot.) Visiting these markets is a relaxing way to enjoy some sights and sounds of the season (and tastes!). Since it gets dark here so early we can take the kids with us and enjoy the after dark Christmas lights and still be home long before bed time.
I attended a women’s Christmas brunch last Saturday morning and as I sat listening to Christmas carols in English, sipping my coffee, I realized how amazing it was. Normally in Minnesota, on this very same weekend I would be attending a women’s Christmas Tea and here I am sitting in Berlin doing the same thing! Oh, it is these little things that make me think: How much my Lord cares for me! In these small things He shows His love for me.
There is so much more happening here around Christmas, but I wanted to share a little bit about what we do here in December to celebrate the days leading up to The Day.