Saturday, December 09, 2006

Nutcracker, Santa Lucia, & Samiclaus

Rachel and Friend as Mice for the Nutcracker performance at school.

Swedish Students celebrating Santa Lucia. Tradition that originated in Italy and brought to Sweden. Celebrated by songs remembering Santa Lucia (was burned at the stake by an irate fiance who claimed she was a witch - why he did this? she gave all her money to the church as God answered her prayers in healing her mother - the fiance lost his dowry!), candlelights and traditional Swedish ginger cookies and Lucia bread.

Those are real candles! The girl with the candle wreath on her head is wearing a scarf under the wreath to protect her head from all the dripping wax!

Kendra performing as the Snowflake Fairy in the Nutcracker Performance. Pic's didn't come out great in the dark.

The bounty brought by Samiclaus! In Switzerland (and other European communities), Samiclaus (the Swiss Saint Nicholaus) comes on the birthday of St. Nicholaus, Dec. 6th. He is a woodsman sort of "Santa" dressed more like a monk w/ long beard and accompanied by "Schmuzli" and a donkey carrying the load. Samiclaus "tells" the child what they have done good and not so good during the year and if not so good, Schmuzli (in black) will take the child into his bag and make them give toys to all the other children. Samiclaus visited the girls school and they were giving treat bags for being "good." This pic is of the bag Bart received at work - Samiclaus goes everywhere! - and apparently Bart was a good boy this year. Traditional bounty is clementines, nuts, dried figs, chocolate (of course) and these cookie type ornaments.
Reminded me of our Christmas stockings growing up - had a small present in it and then oranges, apples, nuts and Christmas candies (some of which stuck to the bottom of the stocking for the next year). Was this traditional from parents living in Germany? I don't know. Mom?

And then, Rachel class went thru the Dutch tradition of hiding a shoe/slipper for St. Nick who would then stuff it with goodies and leave bags of presents on St. Nick day. Rachel had grand plans of receiving her presents this last Wed. I kept telling her we were not Dutch and our Santa would arrive at our
regularly scheduled time during the night of Christmas Eve so they can open presents Christmas morning. She was happy with her goody bag from Samiclaus.
And the Swiss celebrate on Christmas Eve with a dinner (whatever the family likes to eat best) and the arrival of the Christkindt (Christ Child) which is announced by the sudden arrival of a Christmas tree and presents - apparently the Swiss mum is cooking, dragging the tree in thru the window (traditional thought of how the tree suddenly arrives) decorating and arranging presents while Swiss dad is either out for a walk with kiddos or has them tied up in a bedroom until they can come out. Santa down the chimney doesn't sound so bad.

Above all - our family enjoys reading and celebrating the story of God who humbled himself to come in the form of man, a tiny little baby - that he might know our temptations and weakness yet not succumb to them. And then give his life that we might have freedom! What an awesome Christmas gift! Merry Christmas!!!!!!! The Olson's

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