A festive mood can be conjured up with warm light, unusual decorations and Christmas sounds and scents. When the pre-Christmas rush is over and the gifts have been bought, they just have to be placed beneath the tree. For children, getting the right presents sets the tone of the Christmas celebrations. Adults on the other hand value the quiet and contemplative time that follows on from an often-stressful Advent. When the scent of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and aniseed wafts from the kitchen, the stage is already set for a Christmas atmosphere. To make sure not just our noses but also our ears are ready for the holidays, typical Christmas songs like “Silent Night” or “Jingle Bells” enhance the Christmas mood at home as quiet background music. A Christmas crib, evergreen boughs decorated with stars made from straw, a fruit basket filled with apples, nuts and oranges, and of course the brightly illuminated and attractively decorated Christmas tree round off the Christmas mood.
Once the 4th Sunday in Advent comes and the fourth candle is lit on the Advent wreath, Christmas Eve will be just round around the corner. Depending on what day of the week Christmas Day falls on, there will be no more than seven days left before giving and receiving gifts! While children are sure to be looking forward to this day with great anticipation, for most adults this is when the pre-Christmas stress reaches its peak. After all, there is a lot to do before the festive day arrives. Everything has to be planned and organised in detail, and gifts have to be bought for everyone. It was Jean-Paul Sartre who described Christmas as the feast of joy, and this joy is passed on to family members, friends and work colleagues on Christmas Day in the shape of small gifts.
Once the third Sunday in Advent comes around, the third candle will already be lit on the Advent wreath. Christmas Day is drawing closer, and with it the time for giving and receiving gifts. Not everyone was wise enough to take care of buying Christmas gifts for their loved ones back in October or November in order to avoid the pre-Christmas stress. And often it’s not that easy to find the right gift. Even if you know your partner, your sister or your niece very well for example, you make not always strike gold when it comes to choosing their Christmas present. If you want to avoid doing your Christmas shopping at the very last minute and prevent Christmas from becoming a fiasco, it might be better to give some vouchers.
The 6th of December is St. Nicholas’ Day. The day is celebrated in a variety of different ways, not just in Germany. In some places, St. Nicholas comes into the house and reads aloud from his golden book, telling children whether they were good during the year or whether they gave their parents trouble. St. Nicholas gives sweets and little gifts to the good children, while the naughty children are punished with his stick. Elsewhere, tradition dictates that St. Nicholas has a companion who is responsible for punishing the children. In central Germany, this companion is known as “Knecht Ruprecht”, while in Bavaria he is known as “Krampus”. He is also called Knecht Ruprecht in the north of Germany, where St. Nicholas’ Day is traditionally heralded by the “Sunnerklauslaufen”, when – similar to Halloween – groups of children in costumes go from house to house to recite a poem or sing a song in return for sweets. However, many children don’t get to see the giver of gifts at all. On the evening beforehand, they hang their empty socks on the mantelpiece or place their winter boots outside the door. St. Nicholas secretly fills them with his gifts and, the next morning, the children’s eyes are filled with delight.
The first Sunday of Advent marks the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath, while the second Sunday of Advent already sees two candles lighting. The anticipation in advance of Christmas is increasing from week to week. If you prefer to count the days rather than the weeks to Christmas Eve, there are lots of different ways to do so. The easiest way is to use a tally list. Simply mark 24 lines on a board and wipe off one of the lines each day from December 1st. If you have already set up the crib, you can use pieces of straw to count down the days. You have to place 24 pieces of straw beside the crib and then add a piece of straw to the crib each day from December 1st. However, the nicest way to shorten the time left to Christmas is an Advent calendar.
Advent, advent, a candle is burning. First one, then two, then three, then four, then the Christkind is at your door. Although shop windows are decorated for Christmas and supermarket shelves are piled high with gingerbread, Christmas cake and other festive foods at the end of September already, the pre-Christmas period does not actually start until the beginning of Advent. That is always the fourth Sunday before the 25th of December, which this year falls on the 27th of November. As the little rhyme above suggests, a candle is lit on every Sunday in Advent. This means that the first Sunday in Advent starts with a candle.
Dear friends of design! It’s that time of year again: The new International Yearbook Communication Design 2016/2017 is coming out on 16 November 2016 and will whisk you away to a world of award-winning communication design. This year again, you can pre-order the new and sought-after yearbook in the Red Dot Shop.
The summer is quickly drawing to a close, and although the sun is still shining a lot during the day, the nights are already chillier. That’s when the autumnal night sky is often particularly beautiful: The stars are already clearly visible early in the evening on account of the earlier sunset, and stellar constellations appear more vivid as a result, making it easier for the non-experts amongst us to recognise them. Of course if you enjoy watching the stars in the autumn sky, you won’t be easily put off by a little chilly weather. Instead you will make your way out into the fresh autumnal air with a blanket and a thermos flask. But if you still have a few days’ vacation to play with, we have a different suggestion for you: The Kakslauttanen glass igloos in Finland, where you can sleep under the starry sky without having to give up your creature comforts.
The 31st of October is Halloween. The feast day has its origins in Ireland, and spread as far afield as North America through emigration. Now, though, Halloween customs have become established in many other countries in Europe. After all, we all love a good scare! For example, in Germany the popular Halloween parties take place at the end of October. Apart from the costumes, the most important aspect of a party held on the 31st of October involves the spooky decorations. The lights are turned off, the walls are decorated with black materials, and pumpkin lanterns are hung up. The cold snacks on offer are made to look like bloody fingers, spiders or small beetles.
In a time when technology and progress are everywhere, nature is increasingly becoming a place of longing for recuperation and recreation. Particularly on vacation, lots of people consider the unspoilt beauty of nature worthy of a trip. While the flora and fauna can seem rather tame especially in western Europe and other densely populated parts, elsewhere there are still real gems to be discovered. The Big Baobab Bar in Modjadjiskloof in the South African province of Limpopo is a particularly impressive example of the untouched beauty of nature in all its glory.