Christmas Fact 20

German Advent Calendar: Fact of the Day

20. Dezember – Der Adventskalender

Thomasnacht & Kletzenbrot

The longest night of the year (December 20) is called die Thomasnacht. The next day (December 21), the shortest day of the year, is der Thomastag, which originally honored the “doubting” Thomas apostle on the winter solstice (Wintersonnenwende). Since 1970 the Roman Catholic calendar has celebrated the St. Thomas feast day on July 3, but the Germanic Thomas Day observance is still on December 21. A German saying goes: „Ab Thomastag wächst der Tag um einen Hahnenschrei.“ (“After Thomas Day the day grows by a rooster crow.”)

Various superstitions relate to this night (and day). It is a night of ghosts and spirits, and is supposed to be a good time to predict the future using Bleigiessen (“lead pouring,” predicting the future by the shape of molten lead dropped into cold water) or Schuhwerfen (shoe tossing). On Thomasnacht maidens (and other people) bake Kletzenbrot, a fruit bread containing dried pears (gedörrte Birnen, “Kletzen” or “Klötzen”), raisins, figs, plums, and nuts. This is also an Advent custom, with some people beginning to bake Kletzenbrot on or around November 30. In the video below a nice lady shows you how it’s done – in German.

VIDEO: Kletzenbrot und Früchtebrot selber machen | Kochen und Küche (3:27)

Maidens and Marriage
On Thomas Night maidens hoping to marry toss a shoe or slipper back over their heads. The one whose shoe falls with the tip pointing to the door will marry in the following year. A related superstition says that a young woman who lies naked on a bed/horse/bench (it varies) on Thomas Night will see her future husband in a dream that night. Another old custom is for young women to run outside and hug fruit tree trunks (for fertility).

WEB > Thomasnachtbrauchtum in Rüdesheim am Rhein – St. Thomas Night Observances in Rüdesheim – with photos (in German/auf Deutsch)


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