Pictures Christmas Party 27-11-2016

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Please Find some more pictures taken during the Christmas Party at the Shangri La Hotel Ningbo.

This set is taken by Jake Gu. Thank you for sending in.

one more set of Pictures

The Tradition behind Christmas- Germany

Adventszeit und Weihnachten

By: Evelyn Groemminger

Christmas, or Weihnachten, is considered by Germans to be the most important of the major holidays. Although secularized and commercialized compared to Christmas celebrations of years before, the German holiday season is a time for celebration and family and friends. Not only the holiday itself, but also the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas involve many traditions and customs of diverse origins.

Advent (Latin for “arrival, coming”) is the four-week period leading up to Christmas. In German-speaking countries and most of Europe the first Advent weekend is the traditional beginning of the Christmas season when open-air Christmas markets (Christkindlmärkte) appear in many cities, the most famous ones being those in Nuremberg and  the Striezelmarkt in Dresden.

Advent officially begins on the first Sunday after Nov. 26. Four Advent Sundays lead up to Christmas.

Now it is the time for the  Advent wreath (Adventskranz) which  is adorned with four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas.

The Christmas pyramid ( Weihnachtspyramide ),

originally from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, the wood or rope pyramid was the “poor man’s Christmas tree.” Today it is a popular Christmas decoration in many parts of Germany, often adorning window sills, usually made with candles and bells that ring as the heat from the candles turns a wooden rotor at the top.

During the four weeks before Christmas, Germans celebrate Advent, a romantic and delightful time of the year, which is strongly linked to traditional Christmas markets in wonderful settings. You’ll find plenty of hand-crafted Christmas decorations, cute little incense burners, wooden-carved toys and nativity scenes to place at the heart of your Christmas display. Germany’s first Christmas market was recorded in 1393, and today there are thousands of them all over the country.

The town squares, normally dark early in winter months, are lit up and buzzing with activity during this time. Townspeople gather together, listen to brass band music, drink beer or hot mulled wine (Glühwein) or apple cider, and enjoy the hearty traditional fare of the region. Vendors peddle baked goods, including gingerbread hearts, sugar-roasted almonds, crepes, cookies, stollen, cotton candy and other sweets. Christmas tree decorations, seasonal items, and handcrafted articles, such as wooden toys and hand-blown glass ornaments, are also sold.

Both gingerbread houses and the Nutcracker came from German stories. Before the Nutcracker became a Tchaikovsky ballet, he was the hero of an 1816 story by Berlin’s Ernst Theodor Amadeus (E.T.A.) Hoffman. The gingerbread house first appeared in the Grimm brothers’ tale of Hänsel and Gretel, then in Humperdinck’s short opera which premiered on December 23, 1893. Gingerbread has quite a history on its own. It dates back to ancient Egypt. But it was in Nuremberg in 1643 that gingerbread bakers were first allowed to form their own trade guild. They developed export markets, and today, one Nuremberg exporter produces about three million pieces of gingerbread per day in the months before Christmas, for shipment around the world.

Another Christmas tradition is the Advent calendar, first printed in Germany in 1908. The Adventskalender with its 24 windows, helps children count down to Christmas Eve (Heiligabend), beginning on 1st of December.

Small treats are hidden behind little paper doors for the 24 days until Christmas.

Even St. Nicholas was first recognized in Germany. He became the patron of sailors, merchants, bakers, children and students. In Germany, he makes his appearance on December 6 and leaves his gifts in children’s shoes

Christmas carols such as “Away in a Manger,” composed of words by Martin Luther, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” a melody by Felix Mendelssohn, and “Still, Still, Still,” are German.

“O Christmas Tree” (“O Tannenbaum”) was written down in 1799, and “Silent Night” , the world’s most popular Christmas carol was created 180 years ago in Austria by Franz Gruber (music) and Joseph Mohr (text), and first performed by them with guitar accompaniment in Oberndorf bei Salzburg on Christmas Eve of 1818.

German and Austrian Christmas customs have spread throughout the world wherever Christmas (Weihnachten) is celebrated. From the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) to “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht”) and on to the Advent calendar (Adventskalender), people around the globe have adopted many traditions that began in the German-speaking world.

The Christmas tree (Tannenbaum, Christbaum, Weihnachtsbaum) arrived in both England and America from Germany.

The first Christmas tree to decorate the inside of the White House was put up by US President Franklin Pierce in 1856. German immigrants in Pennsylvania brought the custom to America.

In England Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861) of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, helped popularize the Christmas tree and other German Christmas customs.

Originally, most German Christmas trees were fir trees (Tannenbäume). Over the years, as the percentage of fir trees in German forests dropped, spruce trees (Fichtenbäume) became more prevalent. But today the word Tannenbaum is still synonymous with “Christmas tree.”

In pagan times, holly was believed to have magical powers that kept evil spirits away. The Christians later made it a symbol of Christ’s crown of thorns. According to legend, the holly berries were originally white, but turned red from Christ’s blood.

The evening of 24th of December – Silent Night” “Stille Nacht”

Christmas Eve is the most important time of the German celebration. No waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney. The presents (from theChristkindl, Christ Child) are opened under the tree that evening (an event known as die Bescherung). Christmas dinner usually comes after that. In religious families, attending midnight Christmas mass (Christmette) is also a part of the celebration.

25-26. December – Germans get two Christmas days. The second (Boxing Day in Britain and Canada) is traditionally devoted to visiting friends and family.

Both December 25 and 26 are legal holidays in Germany and are known as the First and Second Christmas Day respectively. What originally started out as a church celebration of Christ’s birth has gradually become a family celebration. Businesses are closed, replica watches and time is spent visiting with extended family. Goose is the traditional fare on the First Christmas Day, or carp or a roast. These are accompanied by traditional German fare such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage, and potato dumplings (Knödel). The second Christmas day is usually a quieter time, a day for peaceful contemplation.

The Christmas tree (Tannenbaum ) is taken down on New Year’s Day or on January 6th, Three King’s Day, at which time the children can ransack the tree for the sweets and treats that decorated it.

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