...family, friends, home and other tidbits of a blessed life

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Traditions - What are yours?

Traditions are a big part of the Christmas Season. I find that as I get older that they mean more and more. They a bit of permanence in this hectic world. They are a soothing ritual. They are a way to connect with those who are not with us anymore.

In this photo:
a lace table runner from my godmother
an old family photo of my grandparents
and a Schwibbogen.

I am of German descent so we partake in lots of German traditions. We have St. Nikolaus day on December 6, the Christkind comes on December 24, and we have lots of European delights. So just what is a Schwibbogen? As taken from Wikipedia:


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A typical Schwibbogen

A Schwibbogen is a decorative candle-holder from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) region of Saxony, Germany.

The first metal Schwibbogen was made in 1740 by the blacksmith Teller in Johanngeorgenstadt, a town in the west of the mountain range. The next candle arches always consisted of black ore. There were made out of one single forged piece and could be painted. The number of candles varies with the size of the arc. The original one featured 11.

The most famous design was created by Paula Jordan in 1937 for a show in Schwarzenberg. It depicted the 3 main sources of income of the people in the region in the 18th and 19th century. Thus the Schwibbogen showed apart from some traditional symbols; 2 miners, 1 wood carver, a bobbin lace maker, a Christmas Tree, 2 miner's hammers, 2 crossed swords, and an angel. It holds 7 candles. Contrary to popular belief the candle holder was always associated with Christmas. The light symbolizes the longing of the miners who didn't see the daylight in winter for weeks sometimes due to their long working hours below the surface. Over time the designs changed. Especially in the last few decades after the World War II the Schwibbogen has reached not only a new popularity, but has changed a lot in its looks. Now it is typically made out of wood which depicts historical or religious scenes. But there are even landscapes, skylines, advertisements ... there is almost no limit to the possibilities. What remains is the link to Christmas traditions. Especially in the Ore Mountains the windows of the houses in villages and towns feature a lit candle arc - usually with the traditional designs or at least local scenes.

The town of Seiffen is particularly noted for its production of Schwibbogen in its craft shops, usually wooden arcs now.


Bobbie said...

As I read your blog tonite it reminds me of the reasons I love this season and at the same time I sometimes dread it. The traditions that help us to slow down and look at the more meaningful aspects of our lives are always welcome. I intend to focus more on the things that will be remembered long after I am gone this year. Thanks for the blog.

Stacy McGinnis said...

I love your christmas blog design, especially the snowman tipping his hat! :)


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