A typical East German Christmas Eve – from a child’s perspective

Stefanie Kriebich is originally from Dresden, Germany and working on her Masters in International Museum Studies at Göteborgs Universitet in Gothenburg, Sweden. She has been interning at The Wende Museum since August.

The children had already opened the last door of their advent calendar in the morning of December 24th. It contained a small piece of milk chocolate in shape of Santa. It would be a long day for them, because they were waiting anxiously for the presents to be exchanged in the evening. Would Santa come himself? Would he bring all the presents they wanted? Hopefully, they would recall the poem they had been learning by heart. Santa was not very pleased about naughty kids and knowing poem was supposed to prevent him from hitting them with birch sticks.

The apartment was decorated all Christmassy since the first advent, the 4th Sunday before Christmas Eve. Mom pulled out the Christmas pyramid, a wooden carousel that spins with help of the rising heat of candles.

She also set up several Räuchermännchen, wooden figurines with cone incense inside of them. The incense made the room smell like gingerbread, fir trees and frankincense. Tables and commodes were decorated with Christmas linens.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, Dad had set up the Christmas tree, a noble fir. Mom and the kids went to the butcher early in the morning to queue for dinner ingredients. Mom was friends with one of the employees there, so they would get the Vienna sausages in the quantity they wanted. Yes, Vienna sausages were their Christmas Eve dinner and they came with handmade potato salad – a true delight!

Back home the family decorated the tree with little wooden angels, glass balls, electric candles and, of course, tinsel.

While Mom prepared the potato salad, the kids played in their room hoping that time would pass a little faster. In the early evening, Mom finally lit the tree and they sat in front of the TV watching Weihnachtsgans Auguste (Christmas goose Auguste), a movie about children who save a goose from being turned into a Christmas dinner – a real GDR classic! Then, a knock at the door. Santa, are you there?

The door opened and Santa stepped in. He was huge! His tummy was chubby and his nose was red from the cold. His face was veiled by his white beard. He must be very old!

Santa asked the kids whether they had been nice. Of course, they answered. Lying was pointless. Santa knew exactly when they had been naughty. Only when the kids promised to behave better would he hand out the presents. After the ceremony, Mom invited Santa to stay for dinner but he declined. Other children were still waiting to get their presents. As a goodbye, Santa waived his birch sticks to remind the kids of their promise. Only then, the kids noticed that Dad wasn’t there. He must be more afraid of Santa than they are or he forgot to learn his poem.

While the children unwrapped their presents and tried the new toys out with Dad, who had finally returned from his hiding place, Mom prepared dinner. Meeting Santa had made everybody hungry.

Tomorrow they would visit Grandma and Grandpa and hopefully, Santa had left some presents there as well.

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One Response to A typical East German Christmas Eve – from a child’s perspective

  1. Sandi says:

    Beautiful! Perfect! The exact same course of events happened in our household!! Except Opa always had to go get coal for the oven right before Santa came through the door. And then he came back just when Santa left… usually with sprinkles of snow on his sweater. <3

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