Advent

In Germany (and I guess a lot of other countries), today is the First Advent – meaning the first of the for Sundays before Christmas. Advent is the time we spend in preparation for Christmas , lighting one candle every Sunday.

The sixth of December is a very special day, Nicholas day. The prior evening, everyone in the house is cleaning their largest pair of shoes and putting it in front of the fireplace (or another special place). The next morning, the shoes are filled with sweets – if the children have been good. Supposedly Sankt Nicholas comes during the night to leave his gifts. He is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, who punishes bad children with his stick and leaves a piece of coal instead of sweets (some parents like to skip over this part of the legend nowadays).

The poem I decided to translate for you is set at this very special night. I did my best to keep the tone and the rhyme scheme. It is certainly not perfect, but I hope you like it nevertheless:

The night is blue, the stars gleam clear
snowflakes float quietly through the air.
High on the tops of the green pines
a slowly growing cover shines .
And from a window oh so bright
through the woodland flickers light.
The forester’s wife behind the frames
kneels calmly by the candle’s flames
On this peaceful nightly hill
the forester became her kill.

He was while cleaning her domain
for a long time just a pain.
So she chose to find relief
and do the deed on Nicholas Eve.

And when the deer went to rest,
the hare laid silent in his nest,
her husband had to feel the brunt
when she shot him from the front.
The hare awakened from his doze
moves three, four times his little nose
and goes back dreaming in the dark,
under the stars familiar spark.

And behind the wooden door
the forester’s blood still stains the floor.
Now in hurry his wife starts
to cut him into handy parts.
She quickly slices through the bones,
with the skill a hunter owns.
Carefully sorts limb on limb
(which was never done by him) –
the tenderloin she deems ideal
for her own holiday meal.
Finally, it’s nearly two,
she gift-wraps the residue.

Silver bells sound from afar,
village dogs bark where they are.
Who might it be, who late at night
still travels through the snow by sleigh?
Knecht Ruprecht with his golden gear
is coming closer on his deer.
“Milady, will you do your deed
and give some joy to those in need?”
Although the snow still falls thickly,
the holy man is greeted quickly:
“Those packages over there,
are everything I have to spare.”

To the bells clear chiming sound,
Knecht Ruprecht now goes on his round.
Through the house floats candle scent,
a star twinkles, it is Advent.

Okay, I guess you have noticed by now that this (fairly well-known) poem is not entirely serious. It was written by Germany’s most famous and best Comedian, “Loriot”. I hope you had fun with it, and that you will manage to enjoy advent instead of being stressed all the time.

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4 responses to “Advent

  • The Animation Commendation

    Is Knecht Ruprecht anything like Krampus?

  • Silverrose

    This poem was rather creepy and eerie. Thank you for taking the time to translate it. I don’t think we celebrate Advent where I live – at least, my family doesn’t, and I never had heard of it until I learned about it in the internet a few months ago. Germany’s Christmas traditions seem so much more interesting than what I’m used to. I assume you’re Christian?

    Once again, thank you for translating the poem.

    • swanpride

      Yeah, more or less…Germans tend to have a more casual relationship with religion than it is usual. It’s a running joke her that a lot of people only show up in church at Christmas Eve (and some not even then).

      It’s funny that you think that the poem was creepy, but most German would consider it hilarious….but I guess it’s different when you read it.

      Advent is a really great time in Germany. There are Christmas markets, special Christmas concerts in the churches, the house gets decorated (though mostly from the inside), baking…it is a lot of fun all around.

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