Christmas 2016

It’s time for the annual Christmas post, complete with photos, again.

Of course, the annus horiblis 2016 couldn’t even let up over the holidays and so actress Carrie Fisher suffered a massive heart attack and ended up in intensive care aged 60, while singer George Michael died of heart failured aged only 53. I am a big fan of both of them. And indeed it’s telling that among 2016’s many death of famous and notable people, there were hardly any arseholes, jerks and people the world won’t particularly miss. With the possible exception of Fidel Castro (and my personal views don’t match the standard US view in his case) and one or two retired politicians, most of the notable dead of 2016 were popular and beloved.

Meanwhile, here in Bremen, Christmas was warm, wet and windy. I spent the holidays with my parents. My uncle came over for lunch on Christmas Day, but otherwise we were on our own. And since I forgot my camera, all pics that follow are smartphone photos.

Family Christmas

My Mom, my uncle and my Dad sitting at the table for Christmas Day luch.

The Christmas Tree

As always, I decorated the Christmas tree. This year’s tree, from my parents’ garden, had grown unevenly and also had a spot with hardly any branches in the middle, so decorating it was a challenge. Still, all things considered, I think I didn’t do too badly. Let’s take a look:

Christmas tree

An overall view of the fully decorated and lit Christmas tree.

Christmas tree

A look up the tree. The beeswax candles burn only for about half an hour under constant supervision. The LED light strings were purchased last year, since getting replacement bulbs for our old fairy lights was difficult.

Christmas tree

A close-up view at the mid section of the tree. In the middle, you can see the barren part of the trunk, covered by clip-on twin angel ornaments from the 1960s. Also note the Tasmanian devil and the trio of Disney characters.

Christmas tree

A close-up look at the top of the tree. These ornaments are some of the oldest. Many are around 50 years old and incredibly delicate. The big wood shavings angel is a personal favourite.

Christmas tree

A side view of the top half of the tree. The apple ornaments are construction paper cut-outs and fifty years old.

Christmas tree

A close-up look at the lower part of the tree with several porcelain ornaments and a reindeer. You can also see the construction of the candle holders with a counterweight.

Christmas tree Gandalf and Bilbo

I call these two ornaments, Santa and a little guy with a hat, Gandalf and Bilbo, because they kind of look like them. We also have the dwarves, all thirteen of them.

Christmas tree dwarves

And here are two of the dwarves (and a cuckoo clock). The one with the black beard of Thorin Oakenshield.

I noticed the resemblance of some of the ornaments to Hobbit characters in 2012, when the first part of The Hobbit trilogy hit the theatres and set about assembling the whole adventuring party just for fun. You can see a photo of Gandalf, Bilbo and all the dwarves here.

Other Holiday Decorations

Department store mannequin Christmas

Department store mannequin Else is on the look-out for Santa in this atmospheric shot.

Votive candle holders

Here we have a parade of votive candle holders. The glowing Virgin Mary inspired my story “Our Lady of the Burning Heart”.

Christmas Presents

So let’s take a look at the presents. Like every year, I asked for books and got them. I’m also getting a new PC just after the holidays, though it’s not a Christmas gift, just a regularly scheduled upgrade.

Christmas presents

Wrapped Christmas presents (my Dad’s)

Christmas presents

Unwrapped Christmas presents (my Dad’s). The calendar is censored for obvious reasons.

Christmas presents

Wrapped Christmas presents (my Mom’s).

Christmas presents

Unwrapped presents (my Mom’s).

Christmas presents

Wrapped presents (mine). Plus, K-S20 from Star Wars: Rogue One.

Christmas presents

Unwrapped Christmas presents (mine). Lots of books and jewellery and one droid. I also got a bar of soap, which is not pictured here.

K-S20 and books

K-S20 skeptically eyes these books. Are these suitable reading for the discerning droid?

Coincidentally, K-S20 is the only character from Rogue One I’ve been able to find in action figure form. All other Rogue One action figures are standard Stormtroopers and Darth Vader, because obviously there aren’t enough Stormtrooper and Darth Vader action figures already. Of course, part of the reaon of the scarcity of Rogue One action figures not Darth Vader or Stormtroopers might be that (spoiler whiteout) everybody dies, but that has never stopped Hasbro regarding the other films.

Christmas Food:

The holidays are also a big time for cooking and eating, so let’s take a look at what we had for lunch and dinner over Christmas:

Smoked fish gift box

This is actually a Christmas present, namely a smoked fish gift box (quite literally a wooden box) from Bremerhaven. However, I already ate all of it, because it doesn’t keep for very long.

Herring salad

More holiday fish: This is red herring salad, a traditional North German holiday food. We always make a big pot of this and eat it for dinner during the holidays and for however long it lasts. The bright pink colour comes from beetroot. The recipe dates back to my grandma and is probably even older.

Venison meal

Christmas Eve lunch: Deer, stir fried with apples and mushrooms, served with red cabbage, apple cranberry sauce and bowtie pasta. Falls and winter are venison season, so venison of any kind of a traditional holiday food in many families.

Crawfish Etouffee

Christmas Day lunch was crawfish etouffee. Due to time spent in Mississippi and Louisiana as a kid, I have a weakness for Cajun food, which is pretty much unavailable here in Germany, unless you cook your own. Luckily, crawfish is now available at many supermarkets the year round.

For Boxing Day lunch finally, we had pork curry made according to the recipe served aboard the vessels of the defunct DDG Hansa shipping company. It’s fairly complicated to make, especially considering the basic curry is accompanied by an assortment of pickled, so we only have it for festive occasions like Christmas or my birthday.

I blogged about this curry (which is not exactly authentic Indian curry, but more an interpretation of Indian curries by German sailors) in greater detail and with photos here. This time around, the add-ons and pickles were a bit different. It turned we had no banana left, since my Dad ate the last one, so we used chopped apple instead. Plus, we had Atjar Tjampoer, a Dutch interpretation of an Indonesian pickle, since I bought a jar of it during my recent trip to Winschoten.

Curry pickle tray

Pickles to be served with sailor’s curry. Top row: Indian lime pickle, mango chutney, atjar tjampoer, chopped apple. Bottom row: Chopped pickled beetroot, chopped gherkins, chopped onion, chopped hardboiled egg

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2 Responses to Christmas 2016

  1. Thanks for sharing your Christmas with me again. I really enjoy these glimpses. And your Christmas food is so different (love the explanations). Since my comment on another post probably did not make it (and with a bit of hope that it does so now) – a healthy New Year to you and may everything turn out the way you want it 😀

    • Cora says:

      For some reason, WordPress has decided to dump your comments in the spam folder, but both are live now.

      I think Christmas food is influenced both by regional and family traditions, even if there are certain dishes like goose (which I can’t eat, because our neighbours raised geese, when I was a kid, and I can’t get the images of what went on there in November/December out of my head), potato salad and sausages or fondue that are popular across Germany.

      The herring salad is a family tradition (and a family recipe), though some other families here in North Germany have herring salad as well. And of course, the ingredients were available in winter even before widespread refrigeration and keep fairly well. Though in recent times, it has gotten surprisingly difficult to procure the raspberry juice the recipe calls for. We’ve switched to using the raspberry syrup for Berliner Weiße by now.

      The curry, at least this style of curry, is mostly a thing with sailors and other people who have some kind of affinity to the sea. And indeed, most recipes go back to a cook working for this or that shipping company. We’ve had curry on one of the Christmas days for as long as I can remember. We’ve also had some kind of venison with red cabbage on Christmas Eve for many years now, though in the past it was mostly rabbit or hare. But hare has become difficult to get and deer is more plentiful these days, so deer it is. The third day is normally up for grabs. I offered to make Crawfish etouffee this year, so we had that.

      Anyway, a happy and healthy New Year right back to you.

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