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die zwölf heilige Abende (12 Holy Nights)

Glauben (beliefs)

In Berlin, it is considered good luck to save a scale or two from the carp (fish) you eat and put it in your wallet. It is believed that your wallet will never become empty of money.

Some people believe there is an intimate communion between the living and the souls of the dead during these 12 Holy Nights. (Geistertoten)

  • The souls of the dead return to their homes.
  • They are driven away by nostalgia in the period of festive intimacy.
  • Members of the family who died during the last year, come back for the last time to sit at the dinner table and to lie in their beds.
  • One must set out food and drink for them.
  • One is supposed to spend time thinking about the dead during this period.

Geistertoten (spirits of the dead)

  • It was believed that the spirits of the dead took part in the first part of the dance, which was organized at that time of the year.
  • This was done instead of confining themselves to being present at the family meetings.
  • In their honor, girls put on their most beautiful costumes at the beginning of the festival and wore the family jewels.
  • Once the invisible guests had gone, they ran home and changed clothes.
  • This supposedly happened in Egerland, which was a region in the northwestern part of Bohemia, which is located in the Czech Republic today.

Each of these 12 days contains important foreshadowings of the 12 months in the year ahead.

  • The first day provides revelations about January, the second about February, and so on.
  • All natural phenomena-snow and rain, freeze and thaw, clouds, rises in temperature, and possibly even winter thunder-were closely observed and as far as possible interpreted.
  • Much rural lore about the weather dates from this time.

Zwiebelkalendern (onion-calendar)

  • An onion, divided into 12 sections, is laid in a row and corresponding in the order of the 12 months of the year.
  • A pinch of salt is placed on each piece.
  • If the sections ooze a lot of water, that means the corresponding month will be very wet and vice versa.
  • The wetness or dryness of the coming months are predicted according to the degree of moisture found on each of the 12 slices.