16 Dec 2012

What are the Four Adventskranz Candles all About

What's the story behind the Adventskranz (advent wreath or crown) which decorates Christian homes north of the Alps right now? 

Wikipedia helps decipher this beautiful tradition which symbolises the passage of the four advent weeks leading up to Christmas. But there's a practical meaning too.

Just sit and listen quietly. Here's the story of the four advent candles, which one dark, cold winter night started to speak:

The first candle sighted and said "My name's Peace, but my light shines ever so timidly as there's little peace". Flickering a last time, it faded into the dark.

With a shy light the second candle said "My name is Faith, but I'm not of much use, as people don't want to know God, so there's little reason for me to shine". And with a faith breeze it went out.

Then the third candle spoke with a sad voice "My name is Love. I no longer have the strength to burn. People put me aside; only care for themselves and not others any longer". And with a final flicker it went out as well.

That's when a small child entered the room. Looking at the 3 candles it started to cry saying "You should be burning..." Here, the fourth candle raised her voice and gently said "Don't be afraid. As long as I burn, we're able to relight them. My name is Hope".

With this, the child rekindled Peace, Faith and Love with the light of Hope.

5 Dec 2012

Saint Barbara's Cherry Branch

Traditionally on the 4th December - the day of Saint Barbara - small cherry twigs are cut, placed in water and kept inside Catholic homes throughout Switzerland and other German-speaking countries. 

If all goes to plan, then on Christmas Day the sprig will display cherry blossoms. And if this happens precisely on the 25th, it is seen as a particularly good sign for the future.

Go on then, get your very own Kirschzweig, or flowering plant / tree (apple, forsythia, plum lilac etc.) and spruce up of your home with some more traditional, natural Christmas charm.