Seasonal Celebrations~Winter 2013

By the time December rolls around most of the garden has been put bed and colder temperatures have rolled in. With the garden resting, my energies turn to the seasonal festivities. Our holiday traditions are an eclectic mix of our family's German/English roots, my husband's Southern background with our experiences living in various European countries thrown in for good measure.

view of woodland garden @ Southern Meadows

At Southern Meadows we begin the Christmas season with Advent. We make an advent wreath which is different each year but always uses fresh, natural material. Beginning on the fourth Sunday before December 24th, we light a new candle each Sunday and sing this little German song:

Advent, Advent,
ein Lichtlein brennt.
Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier,
dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür!

Advent Wreath

One of my favorite Advent traditions is Saint Nicholas Day which is celebrated on the 6th of December. The true story of Santa Claus begins with St. Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. St. Nicholas' wealthy parents, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He became Bishop of Myra while still a young man and was known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children and his concern for sailors and ships. The custom of giving presents during the Christmas season comes from St. Nicholas. Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. You can read some of them here.  

St. Nicholas day is widely celebrated in Europe. It is the main day for gift giving and merrymaking. My children set out their shoes/stockings on the night of December 5th and in the morning they find them filled with goodies from St. Nick.

Saint Nicholas Day goodies

Tree decorating is a major event in our home. Fresh trees bring such joy and cheer especially when the landscape is so brown and gray and the evergreen fragrance through our home spreads tranquility and peace. The concept of a Christmas tree originated in Germany in the 16th century. Legend has it that Martin Luther (founder of the Protestant faith) brought home an evergreen tree after seeing its beauty in the woods with thousands of stars shining through the evergreen branches. He placed candles on the tree to mimic the stars' glow.

We display three trees in our home at Christmas. One tree is adorned with ornaments from our childhood and those we collected in our travels and all the places we've lived. It is a celebration of our family history and memories. I love that there is a story behind each ornament that is hung. Then we have a tree which we adorn with all the handmade ornaments from our children. This tree makes me especially happy since it is filled with such love and care.

Christmas tree at Southern Meadows

As the Christ child was born in a manger, in the early years, people would bring their animals indoors to be part of the Christmas celebrations. German legend has it that the spiders were not allowed in the home. The Christ child was sad that they were excluded from the celebrations and helped them get into homes on Christmas eve. Spiders worked all night long and covered the trees with webs. In the morning the webs sparkled on the trees and the people were amazed. And so, the tradition of adding tinsel to Christmas trees was born.

Outside on our front porch we put up a tree which celebrates nature. The tree is adorn with nesting houses, mini watering cans as a tribute to the gardeners who support wildlife and then the kids and I made some edible birdhouses. We purchased wooden houses from the craft store and then covered them with an edible glue and seeds. I got the recipe from blogger friend Indie over at Red House Garden. Here is her post on how-to make an edible bird house.

Christmas tree for the birds

And speaking of birds...we will be participating again in the Great Backyard Bird Count which takes place from February 14-17, 2014. Mark your calendars! For more information see here.

I am joining Gardens Eye View's meme for Seasonal Celebrations. A round-up of participating blogs will be posted on the solstice so do pop over and have a read. 

 A very merry Christmas from our garden to yours;
and, all the happiest of days in 2014!

Don't forget to eat some healthy soul food on New Year's day to bring you a year of luck. See my post from last year for the Hoppin' John recipe.


  1. You are too much my friend...what a rich celebration the season brings to your family. I will have to work on some soul food and edible bird houses.

    As I was growing up we had an advent wreath and celebrated St. Nicholas Day putting our shoes out. We would get nuts and coins. I loved brought back such fond memories. I do need to plant a great native evergreen for our garden still so I can decorate it for the critters each year. You are an inspiration Karin!!

    Thanks for joining in the meme.

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and your family!!!!

  2. Sounds like the holiday season at your house is quite an event - or series of events. It's wonderful that your children benefit from all these traditions.

    BTW - I'm delighted to see that you will be participating in GBBC, one of my favorite citizen science projects.

  3. Being 100% German, we should have had all the special celebrations in our house when I was growing up, but my mom was all about those silver trees! It is nice you have such tradition. I like your porch tree, such a gift to the wildlife. Can't forget them! I hope you and your family have a Merry and Jolly holiday season.

  4. It is amazing how we, earthlings, really spend so much to make our earth so beautiful this seasonal celebrations. Even if our energy is literally getting very expensive and already needs replenishment, we still spend on lights and material decors. Here in our tropics, we also love to decorate settings as if we have winters, as in White Christmas themes, when we come to think of it, amazing!

    Merry Christmas to you and family Karin, may you always be fully blessed.

  5. Your advent wreath is lovely. The German lyrics reminded me of my husband, who is always going around singing in German. What lovely traditions you have! I like the idea of the nature tree, too. Happy Holidays!

  6. Very pretty trees Karin. I love the wreath. I think tradition is very important on our holidays especially.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  7. How interesting! My family has always just celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so these traditions are new to me. Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas!

  8. I already knew of many of these traditions, but not how decorating the tree with tinsel started! I love tinsel, and my tree is not complete without it. All of your trees are beautiful and even more so because of the meanings they hold. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  9. Lovely trees and holiday decorations. Our tree was a victim of our practice of travelling over Christmas. We do like to get a wreath and an amaryllis and poinsettia or two. Haven't done that yet, though.Enjoy your holidays!

  10. Beautiful decorations! Love the advent wreath and your Christmas trees :)

  11. I've never heard of that legend about the spiders before. How interesting!
    I'm glad you liked my post on edible birdhouses enough to make some for your tree - what a great way to use them! I bought a bunch of mini bagels and seeds for my kids to decorate ornaments for the birds for Christmas this year, so hopefully the birds will enjoy eating them as much as I'm sure the kids will enjoy decorating them!

  12. Merry Christmas Karin! Your tree looks very festive. I love the little edible birdhouses and will have to pop over to the other blog to see how they are made. All the best to you and your family for the holidays!!

  13. Loved this post Karin! there is so much to learn about other traditions, this was a treat to read. I particularly love the outside tree with it's treats for the birds and little watering cans.

  14. I love all the Xmas traditions and like very much to hear the different ways to make decorate the house and the trees, those are important rituals. This year we were n the road and we only have few Xmas ornaments, it will have to wait until next year for me. I will need time to catch up with your blog now that I am back, but want to send you wishes of a very happy new year! Lula

  15. Those are some lovely traditions. When the kids were younger and my in-laws were alive we would go to their house for Christmas. There was always a big tree, though just one, and many old ornaments with sentimental value. Presents were opened on Christmas eve and stockings on Christmas morning. As we are a "mixed" marriage and Hannukah usually falls near Christmas, we also would light a menorah and make a dinner of potato pancakes. Best wishes for a great 2014!

  16. Lovely post... I wish you a very happy and healthy 2015.... Michelle

  17. Your advent wreath is lovely. The German lyrics reminded me of my husband, who is always going around singing in German. What lovely traditions you have! I like the idea of the nature tree, too. Happy Holidays!

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  18. How interesting! My family has always just celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so these traditions are new to me. Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas!

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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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