Heidi Trautmann

Let's talk about Culture.....and Christmas, the Feast of Love

Winter has finally come to Cyprus with snowfall in the high regions of the mountains and white horses riding the sea for a couple of days. Temperatures fell to 4°-7°C in Kyrenia, and we saw smoke rising over private chimneys, people would stay more at home, some coughing very badly including myself.

Never have we had so many Christmas markets and helpers to help those who cannot help themselves: Children in need, Cancer charities, animal rescue, and the disabled. Endless were the calls to come to meetings to make Christmas cards for charity, others were baking cakes and mince pies, or they were binding advent wreaths for the good cause. All gave generously. Lights are lit on Christmas trees, yes, also in the North, while a never ending war is raging about 150 km away from our coasts.


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

My images about Christmas have something to do with poverty and misery and that on Christmas Eve miracles would happen that change things for the better and everybody is happy. Perhaps it had to do with the time I was brought up, that were the years after world war II, a time when there were refugee camps not far away from our house and all things were so hard to get and people used to do a lot of things themselves, especially the presents to put under the Christmas Tree.

It was the time of secrecy, a room was forbidden to enter, you could hear noises of tools, a hammer or a hand saw, and there was the smell of paint in the air. Or you entered a room and the person in it would quickly hide something behind the back. Don’t look!

Kids were busy with drawing and creating small things, I usually did poems and ink sketches by the dozen, all about Christmas and winter; I sold my products to the neighbours or friends of the family and for the money I got for them I bought presents, a bottle of wine for the parents, an orange for grandma, a cigar for dad. I am sure they would have preferred the drawings more than the cheap wine.  Early consumer behaviour!

The wood stove in the corner of our room was glowing hot and on the window panes were patterns of frozen crystals which made me think of the poor people without a home like the Match Girl sitting in the snow and begging for some pennies; or the Ice Queen with her heart of ice and my heart ached for them. Wintertime shortly before Christmas was the time of mysteries, of things happening beyond our understanding; on Christmas Eve it is said that the animals will speak up in our language, and that dead things become alive and start moving and dancing around. Many stories and films are based on these old beliefs and today they are still much loved by the kids and those who love to remember.

Grumpy old people all of a sudden become nice and friendly because the spirit of Christmas, or one of the elves has flown past and touched their heart with a magic wand. Sick people get better, a person lost returns home all of a sudden over Christmas.

You can believe it or not, there is some magic going on around us during Christmas time, but I think,  it is because we open up and are receptive for such things, for miracles, ghosts, speaking animals and the like. It is also because there is a general wave of love and well-meaning in the air, we want to do good and be good and that creates the atmosphere where miracles can develop, when blossoms open in the middle of a cold night, when a frozen heart starts melting, when disputes are settled and peace reigns for a short while.

Festive moments nobody wants to miss. It is not the nicely laid table and the new dress, the special Christmas meal, it is the feeling of togetherness and of anticipation to see the joy in the faces of the family members when they open our presents. Their joy is our present.


For those who are at war with each other, whose hearts are frozen by hate and wrong ideals, for the refugees of those countries at war who live in tents and are dependent on other people’s help, for those who are poor because their land has turned into a desert, for those who are on the wrong side of the road of life, for all those the magic may become true and things change for the better.


Nutcrackers at the
Nutcrackers at the 'Christkindlmarkt' in Salzburg

Winter scene in Bavaria
Winter scene in Bavaria

the little match girl
the little match girl

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