I’m a techie and a bit of a digital media girl, and all year long I tweet and I blog, I have IPhones, IPads, IPods and would consider an IHusband if they developed a manageable model with minimal buttons to push, but once the holiday season is upon us and despite the fact that I am currently in Florida which, with all due respect, has to be the anti-dote to impending Christmas spirit, I get nostalgic, old-fashioned and sentimental. It’s during this time that I look back at my upbringing in Nürnberg Germany, a medieval city, a blue collar city, a city with a lot of history and the city I credit for having invented Christmas.The Christmas market in Nürnberg is legendary and for good reason. When you close your eyes and think traditional Christmas market this is what you’re likely to come up with.
Gluehwein is the operative word, especially when the it’s cold and snowy out.
Here’s how you make it:
3 c. water
Peel of 1 orange, cut in strips
1 cinnamon stick, broken in pieces
1/2 c. tripe sec
1/2 gal. Burgundy
12 whole cloves
Peel of 1 lemon, cut in strips
Vendors selling many types of cakes, cookies and sweets but the staple item without which Christmas must never be celebrated is the Nürnberger Lebkuchen, a gingerbread cake that has made the city famous and that belongs to Christmas as much as the Christmas angel.
The Nürnberg Christmas angel is another institution. In Germany we actually do not have a Santa Claus on Christmas eve. We have those in a less prominent form on December the 6 or 12, depending on which religious club we belong to and then, Christmas eve is where the angel appears bearing gifts or at least where she appears – in an admittedly, slightly camp getup – to the masses on the first day of market. As a child, that was the moment I waited for all year.
But this time of year, it’s not the Gingerbread, the mulled wine or Christmas angels that I miss most. It’s the quaintness of this medieval city, the charm of it’s remaining old buildings, the warmth of a cozy restaurant, the glow of festive lights against new snow on Christmas eve. This by the way the Dürer Haus, the former residence of the arguably most famous son of the city Albrecht Dürer, who is today regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. Ask me one day about the story revolving around one of his most famous sketches, the praying hands.
Tricky thing this nostalgia business, isn’t it? That longing for a time that likely never really was. But still, if not this time of year, then when would be allowed to relive all those childhood tastes, smells and memories? It’s a bit early yet to wish every one a merry Christmas but it’s not to early to tell everyone to slow down a bit. To enjoy the season as it unravels and to savor the little moments every day.