German American Family Celebrating Christmas during and after WW 's in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Apple strudel
Apple strudel | Source

My wife’s family is of German Heritage. Her grandmother came over from the old country sometime back in the 1916’s and her husband was hit by a bakery truck and killed while he was riding a bicycle to work. This would have been about 1935 just before the Railroad Pensions would have gone into effect. Her grandmother was left with a family of three boys and seven girls. Two other girls had died in childhood. to support and very little help to do it.

I do not know if she got any help from the church although she was very close to her parish and most her social life evolved around it. During the World War Two years there was also a bit of bigotry against people of German descent. I believe through a friend of the family she got work as a cleaning lady and was a very frugal person. At one time she also worked downtown at a natural foods store. She also helped to raise my wife.

My wife as a baby with the Christmas tree
My wife as a baby with the Christmas tree

Another favorite was Cottage Cheese strudel. To make it a very high calorie affair they also had ribbon candy around, supposedly for the kids.

The atmosphere, when I was there in later years, was somewhat pungent with cigar smoke.

After the socializing those members of the family so inclined would go to Midnight Mass, which was within walking distance when I became part of the family. My wife was in the choir.

Soon after we were married we had to relocate for work purposes.


When the children were grown

After her children were grown they still celebrated Christmas together. Customarily they would gather at her grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve. There tradition was to exchange gifts at that time. One of my wife’s uncles would make a pastry of braided dough that was deep fried and covered with powdered sugary. Light and tasty according to my wife. They called them snowflakes.

My wifes mother in front of the house they lived in when I met her.
My wifes mother in front of the house they lived in when I met her.
Her grandmother
Her grandmother

Christmas Morning


On Christmas day my wife with her mother and grandmother would go to the house of one of the relatives for a traditional Christmas dinner, which might be turkey, beef or ham. Always they had apple pie for desert.

The family celebrating carried on until New Years, which was also full of family fellowship.

Her mother is in the Catholic Elder Care in Minneapolis now at the age of 101 years old. Her grandmother died at the age of 98.

German Christmas Tradtions

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Comments 16 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

Nice Christmas memories. I was raised Catholic as well and we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. Thanks for sharing.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for being the first to comment. My wifes family was much more orientated around relatives than mine was.

Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

Your wife's grandmother had quite a row to hoe, and from the sound of it did it very well, no matter the hardship...It must have been difficult on her to lose her husband in that manner. Yet, the memories of this home at Christmas time are so wonderful....

I would love to know how the "snowflakes" were made, they sound delicious....

Thank you for sharing this wonderful time in your life with us, many blessings to you and yours!!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

The hard times were past by the time I knew them and my wifes uncles were pretty well established.I thought it odd that apparently teh bakery company and driver were not held to some responsibility.

Thanks for your comments.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Your wife's mother was undoubtedly a hearty soul. Since you mentioned a grandmother on the scene, they undoubtedly helped during that time when your wife's father was killed. People used to pull together and help one another when needed. It was simply understood and taken for granted. Your wife certainly has longevity on her side of the family!

My family also celebrated Christmas with the opening of presents on Christmas Eve.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

It was my wife's grandfather who was killed, which happened before my wife was born. The grandmother had no family here but her own kids.Her mother had her own struggles but that would be another story.Family relationships do get hard to follow.The mother and grandmother lived together when I first knew them. Thanks for commenting.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Oops...misread that. Now I understand. My husband's father was killed when my husband was just a baby and his mother moved back in with her parents for a while until her back healed (from the same auto accident that killed his father). Too bad your wife's grandmother did not have that option. It must really have been tough for her!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Since her husband worked for the railroad he she would have gotten something from the RR pension but that like SS didn't start until 1936. Truly I don't know how they survived. I think they church may have given some support. Thanks for commenting again.

Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 6 years ago

this brings back memories of my German family Christmas eve celebrations! :-)

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I'm glad if brought back pleasant memories. Thanks for commenting.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Pat's family were always very close, although there weren't many of them. Both her parents were only children, and moved away from their birthplace to get work. However, her grandmothers would come at certain times of the year, say apple harvest, and help with domestic work.

Tricia had more relatives, they lived closer together but seemed to spend less time together.

It's always interesting to learn somebody else's family history, as we are all different.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for your comments. In the United states we have a common culture but also still some diversity among groups that immigrated here.

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

Glad to read your story here. My paternal grandparents were German and we often spent Christmas with them - and family. They would talk in German around the kids so we wouldn't get their secrets! Thank you for sharing your history here.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for reading it and leaving your comment.

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

My mother is alive and well. This year she celebrates her 105th Christmas at her own home in New England with some of her scattered family gathered around. I passed your link along to a couple with their own German heritage. Perhaps they will comment and add to your Hub.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Perspycacious, Those German women are tough. My mother-in-law is about the same age as your mother. She has, however, been in a nursing home for several years.

Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your sharing it as you have.

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