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