German traditions have influenced how we celebrate Christmas in the UK, from the appearance of Christmas trees in English homes in the nineteenth century, to the Christmas markets which have been popping up in towns across the country over the last few years. Even tinsel comes from Nuremberg (in German it’s called Lametta)! What better time, then, than Christmas, to celebrate German culture in English schools?
On 1st December 2015, the Oxford German Network held its annual Weihnachtsplätzchenbackwettbewerb, or Christmas biscuit baking competition. Around thirty pupils from Years 7-9, representing five schools, came to the event – and some schools even held bake-offs ahead of time to select attendees. A local primary school also held a similar event, in which fifty Year 6 pupils baked and decorated German Christmas biscuits at school. For the OGN event, each pupil baked their own biscuits in advance, and three OGN judges (including two of the three OGN Student Ambassadors who had come to help with this very serious task) then had the near-impossible task of choosing between a host of marvellous entries, and awarding prizes on the basis of appearance, taste, and originality. From an impressive Lebkuchenhaus (gingerbread house) to a beautiful three-dimensional Christmas tree, and from Zimtsterne (cinnamon biscuits) to Kringel (ring-shaped biscuits), almost all varieties of festive German biscuits were represented. You can see some of the entries – including some of the winners below!
Seasonal baking was not the whole story, though. The participants made further use of their creative skills by making German Christmas decorations in order to decorate the OGN tree. They then formed teams and took part in a quiz – the theme, of course, was Christmas in Germany! And then it was time for prize-giving. The (by now rather full-up) biscuit judges awarded their prizes first, followed by prizes for the best tree decorations. These awards took the form of large Schokonikoläuse (chocolate Santas). After all, St Nicholas’s Day was coming up at the weekend, and as German-speakers know, those who have been well-behaved during the year will find their shoe filled with sweets on the morning of 6th December!
The Oxford German Network is grateful to all the staff and pupils who took part so enthusiastically, and wishes all the participants Frohe Weihnachten und ein glückliches neues Jahr!
Mary, OGN Student Ambassador