New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 24, 1980, New Braunfels, Texas
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callasi 'itexa:> 75235German tradition still says wait till Christmas EveBy JACQUELINE SMITH Staff writer
Take away the German traditions from Christmas and there probably won’t be much left of the holiday as we know it today.
Perhaps the most common symbol of Christmas is of Germanic origin. The use of the fir tree for Christmas trees originated in the Black Forest in Southwest Germany.
Evergreens, branches and small trees, symbols of renascent life in nature, had been attributes of the pagan winter solstice festival of the Germanic peoples. They have survived as Christmas decorations.
Although it is not exactly known when other sections of Germany first adopted the fir, it would not have been later than the early part of the 16th century, because Martin Luther is known to have added candles to a “Tan-nenbaum.”
In any event the custom spread outside Germany during the 18th and 19th centuries to the New World by German immigrants.
Germany is the homeland of not only the Christmas tree and its candles, but also of many present-day Christmas customs.
The season begins with Advent, those four weeks which precede Christmas. All over Germany, from the northernmost tip of
Protestant Holstein to the southernmost corner of Catholic Bavaria, the Advent wreath appears in many households. Made of fir branches and interlaced with red ribbons, it holds four candles and hangs from a ceiling lamp or stands on the living room table.
Like many local residents, Mrs. Alfred Liebscher, whose father and husband were raised in Germany, still upholds the German tradition by displaying a wreath with four candles on it each year on her dining room table.
According to tradition, on the first Sunday in Advent the first candle is lit at dusk, a ceremony in which the whole family participates by singing Advent carols. Each succeeding Sunday another candle is lit until, on the last Sunday before Christmas, four lighted candles presage the many lights of the Christmas tree which are to appear in but a few more days.
Although several days are special holidays in the different areas of Germany, one day stands out that has become universally known. That day — Dec. 6 — is a special day for children both here and in Germany.
Tradition has it that St. Nicholas, in a bishop’s attire and with a long white beard, goes from house-to-house (and to classrooms in many schools as well) admonishing the
naughty children and rewarding the good ones by distributing nuts, apples and gingerbread. Often he is accompanied by his servant, Knecht Huprecht, who punished the children who have not been as good as was expected of them. In the evening, the children put their shoes or stockings outside the bedroom door or window and next morning find them filled with cookies, nuts and apples.
Christmas Eve is usually an important occasion for the German family. All shops, offices, and factories close by noon on that day. People rush home to prepare for the evening, according to liebscher.
And unlike the American custom of trimming the tree way in advance, often employing the help of the family’s children, it is German custom that the parents decorate the tree and that German children do not see the tree before Christmas Eve.
“We had a room that wasn’t used for anything else, except to put the Christmas tree in each year,” said Mrs. Otto Seidel, who was raised in Germany.
“We’d have our special Christmas dinner, which was usually goose, and then we’d all go into that room and sing carols before seeing our presents,” she explained.
“In those days, presents were not wrapped,”
Mrs. Seidel said. “Instead they were put into separate areas of the room where everyone could find their own."
Although traditionally Christmas trees were not put up until Christmas Eve in most German homes, they were usually left up longer, according to both ladies.
“There was a time when ours stayed up until almost Easter,” Mrs. Seidel remarked. “But Christmas was different then. Here decorations are in the stores very early, well its no wonder why the (American) children want the tree to come down by New Year’s,” she explained.
And even once the tree did come down, it was still not always completely discarded, at least according to Mrs. Liebscher. “We’d take the tree out into the yard and decorate it with all kinds of odds and ends and things,” she said. “We didn’t have all the fancy toys back then, so we put all kinds of things on it and if there happened to be a spare piece of tinsel that was caught on it, we got even more excited.”
Thinking back on all the holidays she spent in Germany as a child, Mrs. Seidel had nothing but fond memories of all the “fuss” that went into Christmas.
She explained, “It meant more back then, at least to me it did. Christmas seems more like a business here. But perhaps the kids nowadays think more of it than I know. Maybe to them they think of it like I did back then.”
MRS. ALFRED LIEBSCHER
.. .with Advent wreath
Judy Aguirre and Grace Delgado put finishing touches on the nativity scene at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
Church's nativity scales new mountain
This Christmas there’s something a special built inside Our I^ady of Perpetual Help Church.
With the help of two members of the Catholic Youth Organization, Brother Jim Grouchy has constructed what looks like the side of a mountain inside the church.
This mountain is not just any mountain, however, but instead a replica of Bethlehem and
the journey which the Three Wise Men took to visit the Christ child, Brother Jim said.
What looks like rock is really heavy brown paper which has been dipped in a flour and water mixture to make it stiff. The paper was then formed and placed into the shape of rocks with the help of straight pins and needles, he said.
Tiny Christmas lights, silver icicles and Spanish
moss were used to add finishing touches before the miniature nativity figurines were added.
Brother Jim said the idea for the exhibit came from one he had seen in St. I^ouis last year. The usual response people have when they first see the exhibit is usually that of saying “its really different,” he said. Ifs not until they are able to get close to see details before they realize its meaning.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Congressional Budget Office says the United States will have to spend at least $5.9 billion — and possibly more than IO times that much — over the next eight years before NATO can defend Europe against Soviet attack.
The agency, in an analysis released Tuesday, said NATO forces are now inadequate to defend against a con-
HOUSTON (AP)— Physicians at the Baylor College of Medicine said Tuesday an influenza outbreak which began in early December appears to be spreading rapidly.
Specialists at the college’s Influenza Research Center said at least IOO cases A-type flu viruses have been isolated at the center recently, more than half of them within the past IO days.
Dr. W. Paul Glezen, an epidemiologist at the center, said for every confirmed laboratory case there are probably about 340 persons suffering from flu.
The doctor said routine checks with Harris County physicians, clinics and hospital emergency rooms have shown a “sizeable increase during the past week” in the number of flu-like complaints.
certed Soviet attack, even with the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
The analysis said almost three months would be needed to mass enough allied troops to thwart an attack by Warsaw Pact forces, with the Soviets holding the edge most of that time.
The inadequacy of NATO forces to respond to a .surprise attack would suggest “an early resort to nuclear weapons,” the study said, predicting that NATO would make the first nuclear strike.
But the*study said nuclear weapons would provide only “a temporary respite” from attack. The Soviets would respond with their own nuclear weapons, the analysis said, and NATO installations are far more vulnerable to tactical nuclear attack than their Soviet counterparts.
The analysis was requested by the Senate Budget Committee as part of a review of U.S. defense needs. The study laid out six possible options for beefing up defense forces in Europe and elsewhere, at costs to the United States ranging from $5.9 billion to $80.3 billion over an eight-year period.
The agency, a non-partisan branch of Congress, offered two different types of defense for Europe: an “elastic defense,” in which allied forces retreat slowly, gaining time at the expense of losing land, and a “steadfast defense,” holding firm against attackers.
An elastic defense would require NATO to increase its forces by six fully supported armored divisions, including two from the United States. A steadfast defense would require 114 additional NATO divisions, five from the United States, the study said.
LETTERS TO SANTA.
10 16B, 116C
Study finds Uncle Sam's computers dinosaurs
WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government could toss most of its big computers on the scrap heap, lease new equipment to do the same jobs better and save millions of dollars a year in the process, says a new study by government auditors.
“The federal government was once considered a pioneer in computer use,”
said the report by the General Accounting Office. But it has fallen so far behind that most of its major data processing equipment “is two or more production cycles behind current technology.”
Only 2 percent of the government’s full-size computers were acquired within the last five years.
“The government’s got a lot of dinosaurs out there,” said one source familiar with the study.
The report documents what computer manufacturers have claimed for years: the government is wasting vast sums of money by trying to make do with what it has rather than replace it* aging computer hardware
“In every performance area — cost, physical size, electrical consumption, compute speed, reliability, maintainability and ease of use — today’s computers are far better than those of 25, IO or even five years ago,” the auditors reported. But for a variety of reasons, the federal government has failed to keep up with the changes.
* Taylof Communications Inc
25 cents December 24,1980
Vol. 89 - No. 130 44 Pages — 3 Sections (USPS 377-880)
New Braunfels, Texas