German Birthday Celebration and Advent

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM LOUISE VAN HINE

Celebrating the first MAJOR four-star review of my gay historical novel “The Erotic Etudes” at Speak Its Name, as well as my fiftieth birthday, today’s topic is about the tradition of the German birthday celebration and the Advent tradition which has changed little from the time of my book.

I had to make sure I had some money set aside, because birthdays are celebrated by throwing a party at your own expense, with full multiple-course dinner, for all of your friends and family. Yes, that’s right – while gifts are brought to dinner, the dinner is paid for by the guest of honor!

Often these are done at Wursthauses or beer halls, or one’s favorite authentic local restaurant, and dessert is provided free of charge by the management. Cards and letters of good wishes are offered during the Geburtsfeier, along with gifts, during dessert and coffee. The song is the traditional one: “Fröhliche Geburtstag” (Happy Birthday.)

My first birthday in Germany, I footed the bill for American and German colleagues at a local German schnitzel house, where schnitzel, bratwurst and kartoffelbraten (roast potatoes with gravy)were the main attractions. Because Christmas is an ENORMOUS celebration that begins on December 1 with the start of Advent, we adjourned dinner to go to the local Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) afterward.

Here is one of the Weihnachtsmarkts I went to in 2002 in Ruedesheim (not my photo)

Traditional purchases at the Weihnachtsmarkts are Christmas gifts for the family, Russian nesting dolls, scarves, Italian lace, Christmas cider and the traditional “Glühwein” – a mulled fruit wine only made and sold during Advent. And then there’s the cuckoo clocks, the carved “Duftmännchen” – incense-burners in the form of nutcrackers, human figures or animals, as well as little Christmas houses where the “duft” – incense curls out of the chimney just like smoke from a fireplace.

Duftmännchen “Maus” – I got this for a German friend from the German store here in Minneapolis.

I am pleased to announce at the occasion of my 50th birthday, too, the preparation for publication of several titles by my firm, Threshold Publishing Company, in addition to the second revised edition of “Erotic Etudes” with color cover and new introduction, as well as the first ‘modern’ (1980’s era) gay detective book, “Tourmaline,” which will be produced first as an ebook in January 2010. “Tourmaline” is the first in an 8-book series that deals with the dawn of the AIDS epidemic in the gay community in the early 1980’s, set in rural Arizona.

In addition, I hope to be putting into ebook form my very first completed novel, “Princes of the East” about two brothers who are destined to share the leadership of an empire, but one of them is not what he appears to be, the first of a trilogy.

Other titles are slated for e-book publication in 2010, and I will make announcements as soon as I know they are definitely on the horizon.

Advent Calendar Giveaway!

Name your favorite piece of traditional Christmas music. The first prize will go to the most unusual! The prize is a copy of “The Erotic Etudes” first edition, signed copy 12. The first prize will also include e-book copies of the new titles released in 2010 by Threshold as they become available.

Second prize will receive e-book copies of new titles released in 2010 by Threshold Publishing Company (“The Erotic Etudes” ,“Tourmaline”, and “Princes of the East’) (all books are on themes of alternate sexuality).

And since I have a limited number of first editions left and would like to sell them off before producing the second edition, I am offering a special holiday price for anyone who orders it from my website(link http://www.zebratta.com/Books/Etudes/order.html) during Advent. $7.99 with free shipping. Price will be adjusted at order time.

And Frohes Fest!

Louise

36 Responses

  1. This is mine (I hope it works). Gaudete by the Mediaeval Baebes

    http://beemp3.com/download.php?file=1018708&song=Gaudete

  2. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Louise!

    I love German Christmas markets – one comes to York every year and I always buy too many lebkuchen! I remember a huge market in Alexanderplatz a few years ago when I was visiting a friend in Berlin. Wonderful stuff.

    Traditional Christmas music, hmm… I tend to cringe at Christmas music but I’m partial to festive hymns and carols. Probably my favourite is ‘Adeste Fidelis’, the Latin version of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. I like scaring small children at carol services by bellowing in Latin, LOL

  3. Louise

    Happy birthday (is it today?) 50 is the new thirty, so I’m 31.

    Lovely post – I adore that mouse.

    A piece of Christmas music; that’s so hard to choose. ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ or ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell’ from L’enfance du Christ.

    Charlie

  4. Happy Birthday!

    born and raised in Germany so I will go back to one we used to sing every Advent Sunday

    Advent, Advent ein Lichtlein brennt, erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier, dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür. :-)

  5. Traditional Christmas Music? Hmmm, I don’t know what would be considered traditional…I do love Carol of the bells, but since that was written in 1921 I don’t know how “traditional” it could be considered.

    For me though, my tradition is listening to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” as many times possible.

  6. Wonderful picture! I don’t have many favorite holiday tunes because they’re so horribly overdone from mid-November onward–but there’s something about the high notes of “O Holy Night” that raises the hair on the back of my neck – especially the Pavarotti version. (Not entering the drawing, I have EE.)

  7. Congratulations and happy birthday!

    Some of the old, traditional Christmas songs they do in the medieval reenactment group I’m in are beautiful. Not sure about a favorite, but maybe “Gaudete.” It’s Swedish, from the 16th century.

    • hm, unusual. I belonged to a medieval Pro Musica and we sang the Boar’s Head Carol:

      Caput apri de fera
      Redens LAUUUUUU des Domine.

      • Fun! That sounds like a great group! I’ve never been a good one for participating—they tried to teach me some traditional drumming once, but I’m a very slow learner and I’d rather enjoy others performing the songs than try for myself.

  8. Louise, you need to visit Milwaukee, my hometown, if you haven’t already. There’s probably no more German city in the U.S. (And don’t I know it. My father came from a large German immigrant family.)

    My favorite Christmas music is a vinyl LP of traditional carols played on antique music boxes (issued, I believe, by the Musical Heritage Society, which may no longer exist).

    I also love the Dutch song, “Sinterklaas Kapoentje.”

  9. Oh, and a very happy birthday! Mine was yesterday.

  10. Happy birthday!

    Mmm, my favourite piece of Christmas music is also one of my two favourite hymns: O Come O Come Emmanuel
    (the other, in case you’re interested, is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence)

    Although I’m also very partial to O Come All Ye Faithful, probably because we always sing it at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and it marks the start of Christmas Day for me (although obviously, I then go home to bed!) ;D

  11. Each year I sing Christmas carols and holiday songs at St. Catherine’s Nursing Home. This is my gift to them since I do music therapy for the residents
    Favorite simple song, “The Friendly Beasts” about the animals in the manger who are able to speak Christmas Eve and share how they participated in taking care of the baby.
    Also a favorite of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I sang that when I was in college in NY at St. Bart’s church with our chamber choir. Amazing acoustics
    O Holy Night in French so operatic.
    I Wonder as I Wander – also love the purity of the song
    Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte’s recording
    The Huron Carol – Love the blend of cultures in this one
    Silent Night. I like the story behind it. I always play it on my guitar. I know the Gaelic version of it, too. Again, I like the softness and sweetness of the images.

    • oooh points for doing nursing home service! where is St. Catherine’s nursing home?

      • Emmitsburg, MD

      • Love the picture of the town. Thank you for providing it.

        So, someone had to bring up the nursing home thing at X-mas and now I must tell my story. Sick and tired of all the commercialism and the hundred presents under my tree, one year I decided to *show* my children that X-mas is about giving, not receiving. I called a local nursing home and asked for the names of three residents without family members. The kids and I then shopped for them, sweat suits, slippers, plants, a whole list provided by the staff. We visited the nursing home in the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Marguerite was on my list and unfortunately she passed away two days earlier (the staff forget to call me). Minnie had a stroke the day before and was transferred to the hospital (they forgot to call me). But Donald was present. He couldn’t speak, but seemed thrilled over his new slippers and stuffed them in his drawer immediately. All in all, it worked out well. My kids finally realized that not all people have a loving family surrounding them on X-mas, much less any given day, and they also saw firsthand poor living conditions, illness, loss of faculties, so many things we take for granted. Admittedly, they spent the time at the nursing home alternating between eyes wide-open (shock) and rolling them (at me.)

        I’m doing the nursing home blitz again this year. Might have to drag the kids by their ears this time, but one way or the other we’ll be there.

        I love all Christmas music, but Silent Night will always be my fave!

        Thanks so much for the lovely post. Blessed Holidays!
        Keta

  12. Ah, yes, Weihnachtsmarkt – I love that! And we have actually two here – a traditional and a renfaire one. Very lovely!

    My favourite piece of traditional Christmas music – well, now that is really difficult. I love so many carols!
    I really love “O du fröhliche” (which is really traditional), but I also love “Morgen Kinder wird’s was geben” or “Es ist für uns eine Zeit angekommen”. Or all the shepherd-themed ones!

    • where is ‘here’ – you must be in a German-speaking area as well! Amazing how many of our Christmas traditions come from either France or Germany, and yet Americans and Canadians have no “Weihnachtsman” and no “Kristkind.”

  13. Ummm… I kinda like “I saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus.)

    Puts me in the Christmas Spirit every time!

  14. I like ‘Gaudete’ too, but I prefer the version by Steeleye Span. Cruder, more edge.

  15. Being a Minnesotan of German and Swedish heritage, my family always opened presents on christmas Eve.
    Unfortunately my thirty-year marriage followed by the present eighteen-year liason with Bob, have been with heretics who open presents on Christmas Day. Ah well.

  16. Oh dear. I have too many Christmas favorites, but “Gaudete” by Steeleye Span would be one, as would “Bitter Withy” and “Red and Green” by Maddy Prior (found on her Year album) — “Bitter Withy” is probably the weirdest one I know, since it’s all about Jesus, as a kid, getting ticked off at three young lords’ sons, who twit him about being born in an ox’s stall, and then drowning them so that Mary has to spank him with the withy branches for being a BAD JESUS and killing people. It’s traditional British; at least I’m pretty sure it is, since it’s sung by the Watersons and John Tams and the Albion Christmas Band, too.

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