Christmas Memories in Germany, compiled by Deanne Yancey Driscoll
Frieda wrote the following story about Christmas in Germany. December 1901. This would be the last Christmas with their father (Otto was not born at this time).
Frieda Andra said, “Christmas in Germany was a very joyous time. We have three days of celebration, dancing, singing, and going to Church. They really enjoy themselves. Every State has a different custom in celebrating Christ’s birthday. They even bake different cakes and call their cakes different names. Names like…Mo, mstrriseal, Hutzelbrot, Kletzenbrot, Kloben, Zwiebelkuchen, and Lebkuchen. Where I came from, we called it Stollen. My mother would bake about four or five because she would take them to the bakery and they baked them in their big ovens. There were many inspiring programs too, in our Church. In many places the people portrayed the Birth of Christ, all in person. When Christmas came, we were really inspired with a Spirit of Holiness. One night when I was about eight years old, a knock came to the door. I opened the door and there stood St. Ruperecht. I was so scared. He asked me if I had been a good girl. I knew I hadn’t been, so I said, “I will be good, St Ruperecht,” and I said my little prayer that mother had taught me. He gave me a switch with his Rude, then looked for the other children, but could not see them as one was under the sofa, one behind the sewing machine, and my little sister was behind mother and was so scared that she began to cry. Then he got my brother Walter out from under the sofa and Willie came from behind the sewing machine and gave them a licking. He asked all kinds of questions to see if we had learned anything. Then we knelt down before him and said our Prayer. It went like this: “Oh du heiliger fromer Christ while fanta Jam Gaburto Stag ift, Da ift aur Ervan ndait umd bright bai allan Menshen froje Zait.” Then he promised us, if we would be good children, he’d see to it that we got some nice gifts for Christmas. He left and we danced and clapped our hands for joy, it was really nice, a spirit of joy and happiness was in our house and in us too. On the Night before Christmas, we all had our baths, and then early on Christmas Day we got up and saw what the Christ Child had brought us. My! The tree was loaded with cookies, nuts, candles, and apples. It was, indeed, beautiful Lebkuchen in forms of all kinds of shapes hung on the tree. We would always get Marziban (that’s candy) for Christmas. It’s delicious. We all got one toy and clothes also. Clothing was the main thing. We all sang. Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night). Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum (Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree) and O du frohlicke o dufulige.
Then we sat down and had Stollen and a hot drink for breakfast. In General, it was a most happy day for us children. Then we would go sleigh riding as we usually got a new sleigh for Christmas because Papa had made them himself. We called it Kasehitchla, and it came down the hill as fast as the store one did. We lived by Aunt Taute Auguste, so my Cousin Arthur was among us too. Aunt Auguste was a very dear woman. She had a bad husband who would drink and come home and beat his wife and son until they were black and blue. His name was Lippman. He disappeared while Hitler was in power. All of them are dead now, Aunt Martha, Uncle Richard Givich, Aunt Bertha and Uncle Fritz Kamprath, Robert and his wife are gone long ago, Tante Auguste. These were sisters and brothers of my mother. Robert Knauke was a brother to my mother. We were very happy in the Old Country. We had such very nice feast (celebrations): Osteria, Pfuigotat Kirwest, Erute, Fest, Christmas, New Year. Each takes three days to celebrate. Then they bake the best cakes, drink and eat for three days, dance and be merry.