I enjoyed the very rural Bavarian quiet "Stille Nacht" build up to the highlight of Christmas Eve. We haven’t (yet) been hit too hard by the Americanisation/Commercialisation of “Xmas”.
The time from St Martin’s Day on 11th November until the Epiphany (the appearance before the Three Kings) on 6th January was a time of fasting. It was only broken by the feast of St Nikolaus on 6th December who brought presents for the children and this remained, until the 16th C, the “Commercial Festival” of the season. Martin Luther didn’t like this Roman Catholic feast and moved the day to the 24th. Advent is still known as the “Stille Zeit”, silent time, in Germany. Outside of the cities and probably weekend discos, you are unlikely to see a red Santa hat or Xmas pullover anywhere.
Unlike the Turkey feast I cooked last night, many families still stick to the traditional light meal of sausages with potato salad or sauerkraut and mash – enough to rid the hunger pains until Midnight Mass. Before the meal, the parents will send away the children in the late afternoon while they decorate the Christmas tree in the living room which is then locked until someone secretly rings a bell at around 6:00 pm, the sign allowing everyone into the room to see what the Christmas Angel left, having flown in & out through the open sitting room window. But before the unpacking, Christmas carols are sung, usually, Oh Tannenbaum as the candles are lit and then Stille Nacht.
The quiet fitted my mood this year. At another place and in another time, I would just as much like to do the whole paper hats, Xmas pullovers, Santa hats bit. And indeed while I was waiting for the service to begin last night, WhatsApp photos and messages of the grandchildren in Ireland preparing for Santa were coming in. And as always, Rudolph was to get a long, thick orange coloured snack, a welcome change from all that lichen stuff I guess.
The Midnight Mass service at Ottobeuren Basilica was a wonderful event of impressive voices and music but for the hour I was there, not a single "real" Christmas Carol was sung. As the Abbot had referred to the 200th anniversary of Stille Nacht in his welcoming address, I knew it would come at some point and presumably right at the end. I sadly had to leave just before that moment.
I do miss a really good Christmas Carol Concert and normally manage to listen to the Christmas Eve BBC World Service (or whatever it is called nowadays but we get it via satellite) broadcast from King’s College Cambridge which I now, a day later, see was the 100th such concert. Sadly and for me very annoyingly, the BBC blocks most of its library content when accessed from abroad, even though I have registered and have their iPlayer loaded. So no chance to catch a replay.
A very short-sighted insular policy that doesn’t do the UK’s image any good and simply underlines the stupidity of the “Global outward looking post-Brexit Britain” Mrs May lies about daily. I doubt many Brits leave the island simply to avoid the TV Licence fee. As far as I know, both the licence fee paid German TV networks with their large offer of various stations, do not have any such block.
Just as well the Austrians didn’t block the export of Stille Nacht 200 years ago – We would never have got to hear of Bing Crosby.
The photo was taken just after 1:00 am or midnight on the British Isles. I was looking to see if Santa was heading West. Bliper Nogbad had posted the NORAD Santa tracker but my cheapskate mobile flat rate couldn't keep up in real time. I didn't see him and back home I realised why - he hadn't been anywhere near us - only to nice people. And later I got confirmation he had arrived in the UK and Eire safely and without any drone incidents. My parcel to Eire didn't make it! Grrrr. Have to invest in my own package delivering drone next year.