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January, 2006 - Nr. 1


The Editor
Der Weihnachtsmann,
Paul Bernhard Berghorn
A Classic is Reborn
"Happy New Year"...
Herwig Wandschneider
Love for Vienna...
K-W & Beyond
An Austrian Event
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
'Between the Years'
Neuschwanstein in the Running
Klum touts Sauerkraut
King Kong's Kretschmann
Choirs Back in Style
Free Noon Hour Concert
Orchestra Toronto Event
German Films Honoured
Opera York Fundraiser
New Films in Washington
Goodbye to Beloved Hippo
Castle Belleview Re-opened

Living Carefully
‘Between The Years’

  TWIG - Germans, like most Europeans and North Americans, tend to take it easy nowadays in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. There is, however, long tradition behind the habit, as well as a panoply of centuries-old customs governing conduct during this period. In the time "between the years," as this week was known in many regions of Germany, certain mundane chores were strictly off limits. Baking, spinning, and laundry were widely considered unlucky, and violating this unwritten ban was an invitation to demonic punishment. Not only spinning wool, but also cooking beans and sewing during the "holy time" were avoided in Hessen, for example, from the Middle Ages until well into the last century. It might turn out that one was sewing one’s own shroud.

Death was a particular preoccupation; this had to do with the fact that the cold nights between Christmas and New Year’s were seen as auspicious occasions for seeing into the future. Individuals were more susceptible to attacks by the "wild hordes" of winter demons active in this week, so the company of others was imperative for self-defense, particularly on New Year’s Eve. In some areas, though, only men were allowed to seek safety in numbers, since women, the guardians of home and hearth, were not considered to be in danger from "wild hordes."

One can only conjecture about the origins of "the days between the years." One theory, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote, is that the church of the 15th century dated Christmas as the beginning of the New Year, while the civil calendar began with January 1.


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