Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November Holiday Inspiration:

The German (and Protestant church) liturgical calendar includes Buß-und-Bettag.  This occurs on the penultimate (2nd to last) Wednesday before the first Sunday of Advent, which in 2016 would be TODAY, November 16.  Bußen is a verb that means "to repent" and Beten is a verb that means "to pray".  Obviously, this day calls people to repent and pray.  The basis of the holiday is, from my research, the story of the city of Nineveh in the Old Testament book of Jonah.  Specifically chapter 3:4-10.

At this time, this day is a holiday from work in the state of Saxony, a state bordering on Poland and and the Czech Republic which includes the cities of Dresden and Leipzig, and is a school holiday in Bavaria.  All other states in Germany no longer celebrate this church holiday by giving the day off work or school.

Buß-und-Bettag is also - along with the festival of St. Martin, celebrated on November 11th - the unofficial beginning of the Christmas preparation season.  St. Martin Day, by the way, celebrates a converted Roman soldier, Martin of Tours, who became a monk and was known as a friend of children and the poor.  This day is celebrated with lantern processionals and bonfires.  Roast goose is also a symbolic meal of the day because it is said Martin was a humble man and didn't want to be ordained as a bishop even though the people wanted it.  He hid in a goose pen to avoid being found by a crowd who wanted to force him to be ordained, but the geese's honking betrayed him.

While it is a toasty, unseasonal 80°F (26°C) here in NW Arkansas, I am seeking any inspiration to begin holiday preparation.

In the days ahead, throughout the holiday season, I hope to share some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes.

Typical German Christmas cookies include Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Kipferle (almond/vanilla crescent-shaped cookie), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), sugar cookies, Pfeffernüsse (spiced cookies), shortbread, and Spitzbuben, also called Linzer-Augen Kekse (jam-filled sandwich cookies).  
Do you have a favorite?  Are you curious about any one in particular?

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