Volunteering for Christmas!

Our group of au pairs volunteered at the Saint Francis Festival of Trees on Sunday, December 19th!

The Festival of Trees holiday village almost looked like a Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas Market): Gluehwein and hot cider was served, you could eat bratwurst or gingerbread, children sang Christmas carols and you could enjoy artifical snow without the cold! 🙂
Au pairs Katharina and Izabella helped with the sale of Christmas gifts (cookies from Strossners, cakes, etc.), Eleanor Natasha helped with the sale of pizzas, Marta sold drinks and Aleksej sold gluehwein and holiday beer… as for me, I ended up selling wrist bands by the Christmas house where Aleksej sold the alcohol…

A fun experience, that we topped off with our very own Christmas party! LCC Janna Todd from Columbia and her family and au pair Vicki from England came to join us in the fun.

Some of the holiday traditions local Cultural Care au pairs shared include:

France (Alsace region): St. Nicolas Day is celebrated on December 6, when Saint Nicolas comes to the villages on a donkey or mule distributing gingerbread, clementines and “mannala” (man-shaped brioches) to good kids. The “père fouettard” (Hans Trapp in Alsacian) is a sinister character dressed in black who accompanies Saint Nicolas on his tour. He has a whip and scares the kids that misbehaved.

Germany: Advent is celebrated in Germany with an advent candle. A candle is marked with the dates December 1 through 24. As a countdown for Christmas, each night the candle is lit and burned just until it hits the next day’s date. On Christmas Eve, all four candles are lit.

Poland: Christmas Eve is a day first of fasting, then of feasting. The feast begins with the appearance of the first star, and is followed by the exchange of gifts. Traditionally, Advent is an important season in the Polish year, with special church services, known as Roraty, being held every morning at 6am. The four Sundays of Advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for Christ.

England: Christmas crackers, known as bon-bons in Australia, are an integral part of British Christmas celebrations, though they are also prominent in Canada. It consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. Typically these contain a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy or other trinket; and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a scrap of paper. Crackers are often pulled after Christmas dinner or at parties.

Enjoy the pictures!


About FrenchNad

English to French Translator & Interpreter; blogging at lemotdubonjour.com about a French word of the day, the challenges of interpreting and translating, and my adventures in Oregon!
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