Winter Lore 01 – Preparing for Storytelling

I just read one of my favourite subscriptions New World Witchery. By the way a fantastic blog, also featuring interesting and entertaining pod casts. The guys set up the following competition:

Your winter folklore, including (but not limited to) holiday traditions, recipes, songs, and stories; superstitions about specific days, events, omens, or signs are welcome; ghost stories set during the winter, bits of historical information, and ethnic customs are greatly appreciated, too!  We already know that many folks put up decorated trees and exchange presents, so no fair telling us that.  Pretty much everything else is fair game, though.  Try to include as much information as you can, and give us your general location (such as “Pacific Northwest” or “Southern France”).   Also, please tell us if we can use your name when we read your contribution.

If you feel up for taking part, follow the link above, it will lead you directly to the post with the information about the competition. I thought I just as well can begin to share my submission for this competition with you, and because it is Advents time, I will post it as the 24 posts till Christmas, telling you one each day until Christmas Eve.

Before I can even begin to write about the rich winter’s lore in my area, you need to know the place I am talking about. I come from a village (or rather a farm outside a village, that originally was an accumulation of farms, with a church on a hill in the center) in Saxony, Germany. Saxony has a variety of landscapes, I am from the Elbe valley the only wine growing area in the South-East of Germany. An area characterized by outstretched fields, dotted with occasional woodland and lakes, fruitful floodplains that were already inhabited during the stone age, hot summers, freezing winters and strong local lore, that varies sometimes from village to village in its tradition.

I will share some family recipes, local lore and lore that is traditional for Saxony (Sachsen). I suggest before telling the tales, to show off the famous Saxonian hospitality and take care that you are well fed and looked after. The following recipe is for my most favourite Christmas cookies. Mom used to have a Victorian pharmacy glass container in the kitchen full of these cookies. And with it you’ll get a Grog.

Mandelkipferl – Almond Cookies

(At some point during the advents time, family or friends get together and bake huge badges of cookies. The Mandelkipferl are the ones on the orange – reddish plate)

Warning: this is going to make a batch you can feed an army with, but this is part of the whole preparing for the dark season Spiel. Part of the cookies is always used as guest-gift when going out for pre-celebration visits to friends and family. As every family has their own special recipes one usually ends up with a wide range of different cookies.

500 gr Flour

140 gr Almonds

250 gr baking Margarine

100 gr Sugar

2-3 Eggs

1 pinch of Salt

300 gr Icing Sugar mix with 2 Pk of Vanilla Sugar or add Vanilla Bean

1 Pk Baking Powder or 1 Tablespoon full

  1. sieve flour
  2. mix baking powder underneath
  3. add Margerine, Eggs, Salt, Sugar, shredded Almonds
  4. knead dough thoroughly
  5. let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour
  1. Now you get your rolling pin, spread flour on your worktop
  2. Take a handful of dough off and roll it out about 3 mm thick
  3. Take a water glass or a round cookie cutter and stencil out crescent shaped forms
  • Gas Oven on level 7  (about 200 ºC)
  • preheat for 5 min
  • spread the cookies on a tray
  • Bake for about 15-20 min (again depends a bit on your cooker and if you have an air circulation oven, that could cut the baking time down significantly)

While the cookies bake take a soup plate or another tray and fill it with the vanilla sugar mix

As soon as the cookies are done, tip them as hot as they are into the vanilla sugar mix and stir them a little in it so that they are thoroughly covered in sugar

Spread the cookies out to cool down and don’t forget to nibble some for quality control 😀

Granny’s Grog (alcoholic beverage)

Boil a cup of water (or two)

for one glass of granny’s grog you need a triple shot of Rum

Warning: granny actually never uses measurements she tends to fill the glass about half rum/half water, while grandpa was more the one third rum to two thirds water type

2 Teaspoons of brown sugar

1 Clove

Put it all in a cup or Grog-glass add the boiling water and prepare to keel over

Tip: for an alcohol free version see my spiced coffee or just make yourself a nice hot cocoa or tea

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