From Germany to Otago

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In the final instalment of our festive series, reporter Alexia Johnston finds out what makes Christmas special in Julia Fast’s home country of Germany. Julia, who now resides in Ettrick, moved to Central Otago just before Christmas in 2014.

Q On Christmas Eve our family . . . our big family, 16 people including grandparents, uncles, aunties and grandchildren would come together.

Q Christmas Day is always spent . . . German Christmas starts on the 24th of December in the evening with the family at home.

Germans usually celebrate with their close family. After the huge dinner is the time for presents. Everyone would get a present.

Christmas starts on the first weekend of December, like the 1st of December, [which is] the first advent.

It is the time where the first decoration with four candles would be put up on the main table.

Every time the family comes together, one candle will be [lit].

So every weekend one more candle [is lit], until the celebration of the Christmas Eve.

Traditionally the advent is also connected to meeting friends and baking cookies with winter spices are specifically baked for Christmas time.

It is also known that in this specific time, neighbours and friends would share and exchange the cookies.

Christmas time is a reflection time, time for resting and recharging.

After Christmas Eve, the 25th and 26th of December are times [for] meeting other family members.

Usually this time everyone comes together at the restaurants, catching up and just spending time together. A lot of food is involved.

Q What I miss most about Christmas at home is . . . The cold weather, the good and solid dishes, the decoration and smells at the Christmas markets.

Q My favourite things about spending Christmas in New Zealand are . . . Meeting friends, having time for each other, catching up, sharing life stories.

Q The one thing I’ve had to get used to about Christmas in New Zealand is . . . The weather and Christmas markets with all the spices and smells.

Q If one Christmas carol could sum up the festive season back home it would be . . . “Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum, wie gruen sind deine Blaetter .. ”

Q What is your preference at Christmas time between: Eggnog or Christmas cake?

Christmas cake, with walnuts and raisins.

Q Rudolph or Santa?

We don’t have Rudolph or Santa. They are from different cultures.

Q Winter or summer?

Winter, preferably with snow.

Q Beach or bach?

Cosy at home in front of the fire with mulled wine and good company.

Q Real tree or fake tree?

Real tree!