Hey girls (and boys ;-) ) - weekend after this one is the beginning of advent, the official start of the Christmas season. You are possibly already in the middle of making decorations and presents for Christmas. How about calling your friends together for a Christmassy crafting session?
That is what I am doing. I have invited my crafty friends over for a mulled-wine-and-crafting-afternoon on the second of Advent. Crafters are invited to bring their projects and materials, non-crafters are welcome to provide entertainment. We will sit at my large kitchen table, munching traditional German Christmas biscuits, drinking mulled wine and crafting away. Well, the latter depending on the amount of alcohol being consumed *hehe*.
For those who are trying to opt out of the crafting - why don't you give them a little project with bits and pieces that are available in most (crafty) households around Christmas time, anyway? It is actually a very easy project that even children can do: The Zinzendorf candle.
You need oranges, wooden toothpicks, raisins, white and red tissue paper and a candle. First take off the green bit at the top of the orange and make a hole that you can later fit the candle in. Stick a raisin each on four toothpicks. Then stick the toothpicks into the orange so one toothpick points east, one west, south and north. Cut the tissue paper in thin strips, about 1 cm wide and 3 cm long. Push them into the hole and then put the candle on top of that.
At Christmas time some Germans decorate their house with this candle that I call the Zinzendorf Candle. There is a lovely story which goes with this candle.
In the first half of the 18th century some Protestant Moravians were forced to leave their homes because of their religious beliefs. Some of them made their way to the Oberlausitz, an area which is now in the East of Germany, bordering onto today's Poland. They were welcomed by Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, who shared their religious beliefs and put them up on his property, giving them food and shelter. - It was coming up to Christmas time and among the refugees were many children who were looking forward to a very bleak Christmas. Graf von Zinzendorf, however, surprised them on Christmas Eve with an orange - quite a generous present in a time when there were only coaches travelling between Eastern Europe and the sunny Mediterrenean where the oranges grew. The orange was to symbolize the earth. Then he stuck a candle and 4 toothpicks into the orange. The candle was given red and white paper decoration and each of the toothpicks had a raisin stuck on it. The candle is meant to represent Christ - the light that shines on earth. The 4 toothpicks represent the 4 corners of the world. The paper decorations is the blood and body of Christ and the raisins are all living things.
Even if you are not a believer, the candle is a nice decoration at this time of year. And the story is heartwarming, too...