It's Christmas Eve - the important day for us with our German Christmas tradition.
We celebrate Christmas Eve. In Germany, shops and everything else close around 2:00 pm on Christmas Eve, and a beautiful silence covers the entire country. A silence that will be broken in the later afternoon by the ringing of church bells, when the churches call for the first services for families with young children. More "grown-up" services follow later, and finally the big Mass at midnight, with candlelight when even the lights on the huge Christmas tree are all real candles. It is so atmospheric. Presents will be given in the evening, after church.
We have two Christmas Days, but the "big" day is always Christmas Eve. I loved it when the entire country went silent in the afternoon, expecting the beauty of this very special evening. I loved singing and listening to our old Christmas carols - I still do. The sound of the church bells ringing in the dark and silent night - it really is "Silent night, holy night" - my favorite Christmas song of all times.
Our traditional German Christmas decoration, handmade in the Erzgebirge
It's this special silence of Christmas Eve that I miss here in the US. Since leaving Germany 12 years ago, I have never experienced this kind of Christmas Eve anymore. It's one of the few times in a year when I really miss my home country.
I wish all of you a merry and peaceful Christmas, and perhaps you can feel a little bit of this special silence.
Blessings to you!