Christmas Eve is a busy affair in Germany, between singing carols, opening presents and attending church late at night, these is not much time left for dinner. For this reason, most families have a simple but nevertheless substantial supper, with potato salad and sausages being the most popular option.
Traditionally the Christmas tree is put up on that day and decorated, often with traditional wooden figures like the ones on our tree:
They are from the Erzgebirge region in Eastern Germany, where they are still turned and decorated by hand. These figured have been adorning our tree all through my childhood, until my mum decided that we were old enough to deal with a more stylish tree, all decorated in white and silver.
Once the tree is up, the waiting game begins. In fact, Christmas Eve is spent waiting all day for the arrival of the Christkind. the angel who brings our presents at nightfall of the 24th. As I mentioned before, the Christkind had been invented by Martin Luther to replace St Nicholas as the bringer of gifts. In many houses the living room is locked to prevent the children disturbing the angel, and a little bell sounds when it is ready. My whole childhood was spent yearning for an encounter with the Christkind, but every year something came in the way and I missed it. I am sure I was not alone.
- 1.5 kg small salad potatoes
- 1 onion, very finely chopped
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 7 tbs white wine vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 300ml beef or vegetetable stock
- 50ml vegetable oil
- 1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped