In part 2 of my We Three Kings release blog posts, we will look at some of the German traditions that take place in our novellas–and I’ve linked to how you can do one of your own traditional German Christmas crafts.
German Christmas Traditions
Cara wanted to connect her story to her WWII novels, so it only made sense that the family line would be of German heritage. Not only did that give us some fun historical scenarios to work with, but it also gave us a rich and deep well of Christmas traditions to incorporate into our stories. Each of the below traditions can be found in some form in our novellas.
All over the world, December 6 is known as St. Nikolaus Day and is a celebration of Saint Nikolaus, the Bishop of Myra and the patron saint of seafarers and children. Children leave shoes outside their door in order for Saint Nikolaus to deposit a sweet treat for their year of good behavior. However, in Germany, Saint Nikolaus is accompanied by a more sinister figure who carries a sack and switch. Children who were bad could be given a switch or taken away in the sack. This assistant has various names based on the region, the two most familiar being Krampus and Knecht Ruprecht. I chose to use Knecht Ruprecht, as he first appeared in a seventeenth-century Nuremberg Christmas procession, and Krampus appears to be used more often in the Alpine Region.
These open-air markets are a German Christmas tradition that signal the beginning of the Advent season and date back to the Middle Ages. Traditionally, the stalls are made from timber, and everything sold must be locally produced and handmade. Twinkling lights, music, and the scent of traditional German foods mixed with the scent of a hot mulled wine called Glühwein set the atmosphere for this unique experience. If you ever get the chance to go, be sure to check out the hand-carved ornaments, Advent calendar wreaths, and my favorite, Quetschemännchen—the little figurines made from dried fruit and walnuts.
January 6 is the religious feast day known as Epiphany or das Dreikönigsfest (“three kings festival”) in Germany and some other locations. Epiphany commemorates the journey of the wise men who traveled to seek the Christ child. Often, the letters CMB can be found written in chalk on the doors to welcome and commemorate these men. According to German-way.com, “Traditionally, the three letters in the inscription stand for the names of the three Wise Men (Magi): Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar (German spelling). Another possible explanation is that “C+M+B” stands for the Latin phrase: Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates into “Christ bless this house.” The inscription is usually made with chalk that has been blessed by a local Catholic priest.” While there are variations in how it is done, in Cara’s story, three men travel from door to door, offering blessings to those at home. Often, the children would also dress up, and sometimes, a leader of the procession would carry a star. Small gifts are given to the children, just as the wise men gave their gifts to the Christ child.
Martinstag, or St. Martin’s Day, is celebrated on November 11 with a lantern parade. Tradition says St. Martin was a soldier who had given away his last cent when he spied a man shivering in the cold. Out of compassion he took off his cloak and cut it in half with his sword to share. The whole town heard of his generosity and wanted to praise him. Embarrassed by the attention, St. Martin hid in a goose house, so the townsfolk had to use lanterns to search for him. Today, that search for him is mimicked through a lantern parade complete with song and, depending on where you are, candy.
Make Your Own German Paper Star
There is a reason why Celestia struggled to make her star . . . There are a LOT of steps. Depending on whether you are a video tutorial person or a printed instructions person, I’ve given you the link to two great options below:
About We Three Kings
IN THIS CHRISTMAS COLLECTION, WEISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS–AND LOVE
Best-selling romance authors Caudill, Putman, and Strong follow three generations of the Weise family in this third collection of Christmas novellas from Kregel that will prove just as popular as the previous award-winning volumes.
“Star of Wonder” by Crystal Caudill
The Christmas-themed maiden voyage of his family’s grand steamer ship was supposed to be Aldrich Weise’s chance both to instill investor confidence and to romance Celestia Isaacs. Instead, he must foil a criminal and leave his lady love behind forever.
“Beauty Bright” by Cara Putman
Lieutenant Charles Weise served as a Monuments Man after World War II and now works to restore stolen art to rightful owners. Captain Lillian Thorsen pairs up with him not only to return treasures but also to fix the war-torn lives around them.
“Perfect Light” by Angela Ruth Strong
Essential oils mogul Brendon Wise is drawn to Lacey Foster, the event planner for his huge Christmas lights festival. But when he inadvertently makes a spectacle of her on television, Lacey wants nothing to do with him. Will a chance to give gifts to those in need at Christmas be the key to discovering common ground–and maybe love?