Today's first posting was a bit unfocused; it reflected your humble scribe's jet lagged mind.
I had really wanted to share Christmas in Bremen (in Germany) with you.
I thought that I was too late, and everything became a bit jumbled. OK, everything was actually already jumbled.
But, I just realized that I still can share what I wanted to share because today is only January 6th.
January 6 is Epiphany. In the Christian tradition Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the human portion of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ as a man, to mankind.
Epiphany, among Western Christians, is sometimes called Three King's Day because the Three Kings (or the Three Wise Men or the Three Magi... call them what you will) revealed the presence of Christ's birth to a wide audience by their travels.
(I say Western Christians because Eastern Christians, from the other side of the great divide, the Great Schism of 1054, celebrate the same day, but they celebrate the revelation of Christ to mankind through his baptism in the River Jordan.)
(For those who care, 1054 saw Pope Leo IX of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael I (Cerularius) excommunicate each other. That would be the Great Schism separating Orthodox from non-Orthodox Christians. We like to just call ourselves Christians if we were on the Western side of the Great Divide.)
So, today, Epiphany in the Gregorian calendar, is still a day on which I can talk about Christmas related things.
Tannebaums are what I want to talk about.
Tannenbaum is German for Christmas tree.
It is good to talk about Christmas trees in Bremen, because Bremen is where the first recorded talk of secular Christmas trees is found.
Recorded talk is writing, and 1570 yields Guild reports from Bremen recording that a fir tree was decorated with fruits and nuts--great delicacies at the time--for the visual and gustatory benefit of the guild members' children at Christmas.
And thus, recorded history tells us, the first secular sighting of a bona fide Christmas tree occurs. (The Germanic, then, Cathedral of Strasbourg mentions the erection of a Christmas tree in Church in its records of 1539.)
In Germany, and in your scribe's post-married household, Christmas trees are not brought inside until December 24 and they come down a week or two later.
Why so short?
Because Christmas trees have to be kept fresh.
They cannot be dry; they must remain moist and always have watered stumps.
Notice the colour distortion in the opening picture?
It repeats itself here...
If you did not read the caption on the picture above (by running your mouse over the picture) then I will show you a close-up.
Well, I will show you the close up anyway.
The colour distortion occurs because your humble scribe has not figured out how to configure the new camera to account for candle light.
That Christmas tree, like the pyramid at the top of the post, is lit by candles.
Your humble scribe was born in Western Canada, where houses, like trees, are made of wood.
Further, every year at Christmas, families were warned of the perils of fires started by electric light cables strung around Christmas trees.
The idea of real fire being intentionally set upon a dead and drying tree is, initially, quite alarming to a Canadian.
I have lived in the US.
I believe that this idea of a flaming tree inside the house is equally alarming to my American cousins.
The first year your Heroine and scribe were in Canada, with a wooden tree blazing away inside the house but not in the fireplace, my Dad stood at hyper-vigilant attention with a bucket of water every time the tree was lit.
Dad has calmed down, regarding the safety of flaming Christmas trees, considerably since then.
Remember, Bremen is also the home of Feuerzangenbowle, that burnt rum, molten sugar, spices, and red wine mixture that translates, sort of, to flaming fire tongs brew and is great to drink.
Bremen's citizens are quite OK with fire. You should see what they do with fireworks on New Year's Eve; a good reason to retreat to Venice...
So this was what I wanted to share with you. Burning Christmas trees in Bremen.
The Europeans will think this no big deal, but I know that North Americans will be surprised.
Oops. It is almost January 7th, which means that it is time to take the Christmas tree down now.
Liturgically, Christ has been revealed. Pragmatically, those needles will be drying out and this tree is starting to get hazardous. Even in Bremen they still respect fire a little bit.