Silent Night – A Christmas Song

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com

A few years ago, the globally best-known Christmas song was determined. Of course, there was a long list of excellent, famous songs, like ‘Feliz Navidad,’ or ‘White Christmas’ to choose from.

But even though Bing Crosby’s song was the most successful, it wasn’t the best-known song.

Also, ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham was very successful and often streamed. But despite it being played almost too often around the world by uncountable radio stations, the song isn’t the best-known Christmas song in the world. However, some people are convinced it’s the most annoying Christmas song.

The best-known Christmas song, translated into 320 languages and dialects, is ‘Silent Night, Holy Night.’

In 1818, in Salzburg, Austria, curate Joseph Mohr wrote the words as a poem first and then searched for a composer who could vitalize his rhymes. Franz Xaver Gruber found the correct intonations and wrote the melody down on paper. (That particular paper was found in Salzburg in 1995).

The song was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011.

‘Silent Night’ was recorded and sold by numerous singers globally. And here we are, meeting Bing Crosby again. His version of Silent Night was sold over 30 million times.

Even though the original text contained six stanzas, the Silent Night is often sung with three stanzas: the first, the second, and the last.


SILENT NIGHT

English lyrics

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood & Reba McEntire (2013)

German lyrics

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

Stille Nacht, by Peter Alexander, a famous Austrian singer, 1926 – 2011

Silent Night has always been mine and my Father’s favorite Christmas song. I remember very clearly with how much passion he sang this Christmas carol and how much he loved it. Even though he passed away 24 years ago, until this day, I cannot sing Silent Night anymore without being forced to give up, choked by tears.

I still love to hear it, year, by year, by year, that beautiful song, filling my heart with hope and peace.


Picture courtesy of 8tracksradio.com

Advent Wreath – A Christmas Preparation

History

The first Advent wreath was created in 1839 by Johann Hinrich Wichern, a theologist and teacher. He made that advent wreath with four big and twenty small candles to bring joy to the street children. During their time of these poor children in the Rauhen House Hamburg, they all together could count the days until the evening before Christmas.

This first Advent wreath became a tradition during the advent time, which means the four weeks before the Holy Night. (December 24). Later, people made their Advent wreaths, smaller versions with four candles, which they placed on their tables. The idea for an advent wreath reminds us of much older paintings and images of light garlands of the Vikings and the Huns. But with the traditional Advent colors red, green, and purple, the form mainly refers to the Christian beliefs.

Later on, the tradition spread out from the North of Germany to the South, Bavaria, Austria, and Switzerland in the late 19th century.

Tradition and use

As mentioned before, the tradition says, the first Advent Sunday, four weeks before the Holy Night, the first candle will be lit. From this day on, that first candle is generally lit every evening, where, in Christian households, family members usually pray. On the second Sunday, the first and second candles are lit, the third Sunday, the third candle is added, and so on.

The candles are the tools to hold the raising light that announces the birth of Jesus Christ, who is called ‘The Light of the world,’ born December 24, in a stable in Bethlehem.

According to the Tradition, the first Advent Sunday in 2021 was November 28.

Picture courtesy of T-Online

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom the power,
and the glory are yours now and forever.

Amen.

“Windowing” – Historic Tradition Mainly In Austria & Bavaria

In older times, in the ‘old countries’, mainly in Austria and Southern Germany, Bavaria, where several generations were living in one house, the bedrooms of young ladies were often on the second floor, to protect their virtue. Young men and ladies had only opportunity to meet each other on the dance floor at ‘village celebrations’, or at church. Of course, Sundays were family days, and the fathers protected their daughters like dragons and they often were not allowed to talk after mass.

Well, between farm and shepherd work they sometimes had the chance to briefly meet, but were strictly watched by chaperones, or, occasionally, older siblings.

Of course, the families did not tolerate fornication under their roof and didn’t accept visitors. (Fornication was illegal, by the procuration law §180 a. F. StGB).

This means, if a boy fell for a girl and wanted to secretly talk to her, he grabbed a ladder, at nighttime, and walked to her parent’s house. There he climbed up to her window and knocked – and if the girl liked him too, she opened. And then, they were talking – and kissing… and sometimes, maybe doing a few other secret things, veiled by the darkness of the night.

That tradition is, of course, not called ‘windowing’. (I used that word, because I think it gets closest to the original words). The tradition is called ‘Fensterln’ (Austrian dialect) or ‘Fenstaln’ (Bavarian dialect) and means nothing else than visiting their sweetheart by climbing into the window. That tradition was a partially accepted living out of proscribed prenuptial sexual activities.

After the sexual laxity and female emancipation, the tradition was rendered unnecessary.

Nowadays it’s only practiced for the fun of it.

When I was around 16 and vacationing with my family in my aunt and uncle’s house, I had fallen for a really cute boy, and he promised to visit me one night. Of course, he didn’t. I could imagine he didn’t want to fall down and break his neck in the darkness, He told me later, he couldn’t find a ladder that was long enough to reach the window… but I still suspect he was just scared to death from my Dad. And by thinking about it, it’s only natural. My Dad was a protector. Also, climbing into the room was out of the question, since I shared it with my younger sister. The boy probably thought, just for a couple kisses it wasn’t worth the effort. And I’m not that old… we could kiss during the day. *chuckle*

Why am I telling you about this tradition today? While writing a sub-story to my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I picked historic locations in Middle Europe, toward’s the end of the ‘Danube Monarchy’. During my research, I discovered an article about ‘Fensterln’ and started smiling, when I remembered it. Maybe, one day, you will have the chance to use it in one of your stories.

Happy Writing!

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Happy Halloween 2021

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Pumpkins with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating jack-o’-lanterns originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as early canvasses. In fact, the name, jack-o’-lantern, comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

The Legend of “Stingy Jack”

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. 

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack-o’-lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.

(Source: https://www.history.com/news/history-of-the-jack-o-lantern-irish-origins)


Thank you for your support of ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ and my writing.

I wish you and your loved ones

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A Dark Day In History – Remembering 9/11 – 20 Years

Twenty years ago, I sat in an office in Europe when our boss came in and informed us that the World Trade Center in NYC was burning due to an accident… it was the first airplane hitting the North Tower. I politely asked if I could check that please online, but he refused. His words were something in the line of: “We need our internet for significant things…”

I was working temporarily for that company and decided to call it a day. It was already afternoon in Western Europe, and I went home to find out what happened.  I turned the TV on and started crying. I think I didn’t stop weeping until 11 pm.

It’s been 20 years that nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks, born out of purest hatred and evil.

But something else happened that day: It united the US. The United States of America has proven to be ONE UNITY. There were no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There was no exclusion, no dividing… families lost loved ones and needed help. Victims were mourned, no matter who they were! Memorials were held for ALL of them! And American people united to help.

I pray that the US finds that solidarity again – WITHOUT such a horrific catastrophe.

But also, and most of all, I pray that we never forget the lives lost that day, 20 years ago, when the sky over the US burned.


Dear Lord

Would you please help us remember the souls who wandered to Heaven that day, 20 years ago? Let us burn a candle for them, deep in our hearts. Please, let them rest in peace forever.

Amen

Picture courtesy of VideoHive.com

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
That September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or workin' on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children, they lost their dear loved ones
Pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out with pride for the red, white, and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
That September day?
Teachin' a class full of innocent children
Or drivin' down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor?
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset for the first time in ages
And speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on I Love Lucy reruns?
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Stand in line to give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love
I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

And the greatest is love
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
On that September day?


God Bless America Photograph by M James McAdams

How Did They Make Iron in the Iron Age? – Written By Nicholas Rossis

The Iron Age (800 BC-100 AD) took its name from, well, iron. This kickstarted a number of technological and social changes, with centuries-old Bronze Age (2200-800 BC) civilizations based on copper and tin falling prey to invincible newcomers who wielded formidable iron weapons.

But how did people make iron in the first place? Did they suddenly have access to technology that could raise the temperature high enough to melt iron?

Well, no. Instead, people came up with an ingenious way of using existing technology in a radically different way, as Jason Almendra explains on Quora. They sourced the metal from bog iron or iron ore, both of which had been known for centuries. Now, however, they realized they could ground this to a powder. They then lit a bloomery with charcoal and raised the temperature using bellows.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Cold Hands, Warm Heart – Written By Juliette Kings (Vampire Maman)

Today I read a piece of Juliette’s history, her past… which involves long years, decades, and even centuries. I never had the courage of asking her how many of them… but one day, she’ll tell me, I’m sure. I felt like sharing this article with you, just because I simply love it. Thanks for sharing, Juliette.


 

My eldest brother Max (10 years my senior) had asked his best friend Teddy to escort me home from the theater one evening. It was 1874. I was 15 years old.

“Your hands are so cold,” he said as he helped me up off of the muddy street onto the boardwalk.

I gave him a coy smile. “I have a cold heart sir.”

He laughed. I never called him sir. He offered me his arm.

I gladly took his arm. “Your hands are positively burning. What sort of fire stirs your soul tonight?” That was pretty forward but I didn’t care. I was floating with the joy of being a flirt and having no brothers or parents around to stop me.

“You’re not like the other girls.”

“No I am not.”

“You’re an impish little thing. It will take a man with a quick wit and a good sense of humor to woo you Juliette.”

“Ahhhh, but you forget I have four older brothers. I pity any man who would have to deal with them.”

“They’ll love any man who is truly in love with you Juliette.”

“I doubt that Teddy.”

Then he stopped and faced me. “I have some news. A secret if you can keep one.”

“Your secrets are always safe with me.”

Teddy had a large smile on his handsome face. “I’m getting married.”

My young Vampire heart literally stopped dead. My head started to spin, but I managed to smile because like all Vampires, I was a natural liar. “Oh Teddy. I’m so happy for you. She really is lovely.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

The Real Witches – Written By Nicholas Rossis

I found a phenomenal article written by Nicholas Rossis, where he writes about witches, in a very unique and still sensitive way, combining myth and history, as he usually does. Thank you for a fascinating post, Nicholas.


I kick off the new year with a matter close to anyone who’s ever flirted with fantasy writing: witches. I mean, what’s fantasy without witchcraft? Probably a rather boring Medieval existence, that’s what.

Of course, there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Witchcraft has been a topic for discussion since forever and witches have been surrounded by countless myths through the centuries.

This guest post by John Dickinson, a writer from SuperiorPapers, discusses the myth and reality of witches.

The Real Witches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witches were traditionally pictured as ugly hags with warts on their faces, a pointy hat with a wide brim, stirring a huge cauldron with a green liquid or cackling through the sky. However, modern pop culture has portrayed them as a kind, nose-twitching suburban housewife; an awkward teenager learning to control her powers, and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil.

A similar confusion seems to surround their punishment. We believe that witches were burnt for their sin of practicing witchcraft. But this, along with other myths, was an unusual punishment that probably became popular because of Jean d’Arc.

Here are some more interesting facts about witches I hope you will find at least as interesting as I did!

CONTINUE READING HERE

Writers And Painters Are Not That Different


When I read this quote, I felt a little sting inside of me. So far, writing, to me, was something I love doing, but still, it is hard work. Therefore, I considered myself a ‘hard worker’, with some natural creativity, and, hopefully, some God-given talent.

I did not, whatsoever, combine my writing and the world ‘artist’ in the same sentence. And to me, a painter is clearly defined as an artist.

The moment I read that, I tried to find out who said it, and when I read ‘Voltaire’, I was surprised, and a tiny bit proud, too.

Voltaire is considered one of the best writers ever, busy as a bee, and in many ways controversial for the past times. His entire thinking was far ahead of his time. The fact that it was Voltaire, telling me that what I do is ‘painting’, just with words, instead of brushes, made me, for the first time, feel like being an artist.

Yes, I write, yes, I paint, I just paint with words… I paint wonderful pictures for the ones who take the time to stand still and ‘look’ at these pictures; take them in, enjoy them… read them, and imagine them… take my tools and use them to show your own picture in your head, in your dreams, in your imagination.

At this moment I consider this a wonderful Christmas present.

Thank you, Voltaire.


Voltaire Biography

Historian (1694–1778)
Author of the satirical novella ‘Candide,’ Voltaire is widely considered one of France’s greatest Enlightenment writers.
Who Was Voltaire?

Voltaire established himself as one of the leading writers of the Enlightenment. His famed works include the tragic play Zaïre, the historical study The Age of Louis XIV, and the satirical novella Candide. Often at odds with French authorities over his politically and religiously charged works, he was twice imprisoned and spent many years in exile. He died shortly after returning to Paris in 1778.

Early Life

Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet to a prosperous family on November 21, 1694, in Paris, France. He was the youngest of five children born to François Arouet and Marie Marguerite d’Aumart. When Voltaire was just seven years old, his mother passed away. Following her death, he grew closer to his free-thinking godfather.

In 1704, Voltaire was enrolled at the Collége Louis-le-Grand, a Jesuit secondary school in Paris, where he received a classical education and began showing promise as a writer.

Beliefs and Philosophy

Embracing Enlightenment philosophers such as Isaac NewtonJohn Locke and Francis Bacon, Voltaire found inspiration in their ideals of a free and liberal society, along with freedom of religion and free commerce.

As a vegetarian and an advocate of animal rights, however, Voltaire praised Hinduism, stating Hindus were “[a] peaceful and innocent people, equally incapable of hurting others or of defending themselves.”

Major Works

Voltaire wrote poetry and plays, as well as historical and philosophical works. His most well-known poetry includes The Henriade (1723) and The Maid of Orleans, which he started writing in 1730 but never fully completed.

Among the earliest of Voltaire’s best-known plays is his adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus, which was first performed in 1718. Voltaire followed with a string of dramatic tragedies, including Mariamne (1724). His Zaïre (1732), written in verse, was something of a departure from previous works: Until that point, Voltaire’s tragedies had centered on a fatal flaw in the protagonist’s character; however, the tragedy in Zaïre was the result of circumstance. Following Zaïre, Voltaire continued to write tragic plays, including Mahomet (1736) and Nanine (1749).