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Silvester & Wunderkerzen

December 31st, 2009

Today is the last episode of our German Words Explained podcast, which has now been going for 160 episodes.

We talk about the topics that we covered, and in particular about the K√§seigel.  Back in June 2007 Maria promised to make one and 158 episodes later here it is:

Ein Käseigel

To finish off the series, we explain the word Wunderkerzen.

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So now, for the last time, listen to the podcast:

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ÔĽŅ

Lametta

December 30th, 2009

Lametta is a Christmas decoration found in German homes and in particular on Christmas trees.  Similar to tinsel, it is hung over the branches to simulate icicles.

Originally it was made from a substance called “Stanniol”, which is Tin (Sn) flattened to make it into a foil.

To add weight to the Lametta, lead or even silver were added.  Often this meant that it was used on New Year’s Eve for Bleigie√üen.  However, modern Lametta is often made of plastic.

To hear a simple explanation and to find out what the number 90/10 has to do with Lametta, listen to the podcast:

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Der Weihnachtsmann

December 24th, 2009

The Weihnachtsmann has an unusual roll to play in German Christmas celebrations. In some parts of Germany, mainly in the North, he is said to bring the presents to the children on Christmas Eve. In much of Germany and especially in the South this is the job of the Christkind.

The confusion seems to have come about because of the different way that the protestant and catholic religions celebrated Christmas in the past.

The Weihnachtsmann is generally portrayed in a way that Father Christmas or Santa Claus is in other countries with a red and white gown and riding behind reindeer. Except that children do not leave out stockings for their presents – they do that with their boots for Nikolaus.

And whilst most films and even locally made television programmes will talk about the Weihnachtsmann, children are more usually asked “what did the Christkind bring you for Christmas”.

With the North/South divide making it easily possible for families to mix both traditions, adding a foreign element when other nationalities are involved just adds to the chaos!

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Räucherkerzen

December 23rd, 2009

Räucherkerzen are candles that produce a scented smoke. Commonly found scents are incense, pine, cinnamon and honey.

Coming originally from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) they are often used as part of Christmas decorations, such as Räuchermännchen.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Bergmannsfigur

December 16th, 2009

The Bergmannsfigur is a traditional Christmas decoration in the Erzgebirge area of Germany. They are wooden figures that hold a candle in each hand.

On becoming a father it was the duty of each man to make one of these figures, in the shape of a miner for a boy or an angel for a girl. These were placed in the windows of the houses and provided candlelight for the streets during the winter months when the miners would be going to and from their shift in darkness.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Download a transcript

Download the MP3 file

ÔĽŅ

 

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