Alois, the senior host, loves reminiscing about Christmas as it used to be. ‘The simple life’ is one way to describe this bygone age. Every day in Advent, when every tree and shrub in front of the house were decked with snow and the wood-fired stove in the parlour belted out incessant heat, he and his brothers and sisters would trudge through the deep snow to the Rorate Mass in the village church. The half-hour march to Mass at 5:30 a.m. with only a burning piece of wood to light the way through the darkness was not easy, but it was part of the Advent season. The children from the village and the nearby farms kneeled in tightly packed pews. Burning candles spread a warm light and the pleasant scent of incense lay in the air. This was part and parcel of Christmas. Then, when Christmas Eve finally arrived, Father got the Christmas tree from the forest. It was time to fetch the manger from the attic and decorate the tree with red apples, straw stars and silver threads.
Father would put incense into the embers pan and place it ready in the parlour before the ‘Holy Supper’. The evening meal was simple, yet special. There was meat soup and "krapfen".
Praying, the family then moved through the house and yard with the incense burner. When they arrived in the final room – the parlour – they held their headscarf or hat over it and put it back on. A custom supposedly to protect against evil and illness. Then, at last, the Christ Child came. Tea, biscuits, apples and oranges magically lit up the children’s eyes. It was rare to have any toys. As night drew to a close, they trudged together through the snow to the Christmas Mass to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Alois loves to think back to this time.
Your Lechner Family