Saint Nicholas Eve or “Sankt Nikolaustag Abend” is celebrated on the eve of December 6th, with St. Nicholas visiting all of the children in Bruch – reviewing with them how good (or not) they’ve been during the year and giving them gifts if they were good…and in the shadows tags along Knecht Ruprecht carrying a bundle of switches – a reminder of punishment for children who misbehave.
This year St. Nicholas had more of a pure Santa Claus image than the true Bishop image of the previous year, and here St. Nicholas reads to David out of the “Book” that has recorded how good or bad he was during the previous year…and the verdict was – mostly good – while Knecht Ruprecht with his bundle of switches in the background is a visible reminder to remain good.
St. Nicholas reviews the year with David’s little cousin, who was much too young to really understand what was going on – while David’s grandmother helps to explain everything going on to David…as Knecht Ruprecht lingers in the background in the foyer, and is often not even allowed to enter the home as his presence can be too menacing for small children, and as such I omitted posting most of the pictures of him from that evening.
The tradition in Germany is for children to polish their boots and leave them on the doorstep, and in the morning they find gifts from St. Nicholas in them – but since this was “Americanized” – St. Nicholas brought gift bags for David and his little cousin.
Finally with the drama coming to a close, St. Nicholas hands gift bags to David, which can only be pure excitement for a child – the whole visit can last from 10 to 15 minutes – and St. Nicholas has a lot of children to visit in the village and give gifts to.
The entire evening reminds us of the original Saint Nicholas, who was best known for his kind heart towards children and gift giving – and this evening is much anticipated by children as the season of Advent approaches.
Here David tries on his new hat and scarf from St. Nicholas, and investigates the modern version of switches – wrapped in plastic with little gifts included with the branches.
We used to all enjoy a fire in the fireplace in Bruch once the fall chill arrived – and while this picture was taken in December 1990, the following two photographs are undated, but were taken around the same time frame during Advent and the Christmas season.
One day while watching the fire die down with my father-in-law, I saw what I immediately viewed as the figure of Jesus Christ in white – holding his hands out in a gesture of peace and looking to His left (right from our perspective) – against the black soot background of the fireplace – embers still glowing red hot – and I grabbed my camera and took two photos to document the image I saw revealed in the fireplace, this being the first one.
It’s been twenty years now and I had occasionally viewed these photos over the years, but I never grasped that the blood stained Crown of Thorns and head of Christ was clearly visible to me – shown clearly on this cropped image of Christ’s blood stained head from the first photo – except when I scanned the photos on Monday, April 26, 2010, while preparing this posting.
This is the second photo, taken from a slightly different angle and closer up – showing what I believe to be the image of Jesus Christ in the back of the fireplace as the fire dies down.
The figure of Jesus Christ has His arms outstretched in a sign of peace, so I thought I’d crop the picture and slowly bring the viewer into an intimate closeness with this image – as Christ looks to His left and appears to be holding something in His outstretched left hand.
We’re a little closer now as we zoom in on this image of Jesus Christ in the back of the fireplace, while the embers glow and the object in His left hand appears to be a partial cross and the blood stained head of Christ becomes visible – so that we might have a sign to increase our faith and believe.
As we draw closer in, I reflect on the fact that although these pictures were given to me twenty years ago during Advent of 1990, they reveal to me only now the blood stained head of Christ wearing a Crown of Thorns…revealed to me in a deeper way at this time of my life, so that it might increase my faith for the work that I’m to do for Him.
The bloodstained Crown of Thorns and bloodstained head of Christ are clearly visible, and the object in Christ’s left hand clearly begins to take on the form of a cross with one half of the cross member missing.
With the partial cross in His left hand clearly visible, I contemplate the significance of this image of Christ suffering – given to me twenty years ago, yet only fully revealed to me this week…increasing my faith in the work I believe that Christ calls me to do for Him.
If someone has the ability to examine these two original photos of the image of Jesus Christ wearing the blood soaked Crown of Thorns, using color enhancement and analysis to bring out the depth of what is a “negative” image in the fireplace…I’d love to see the result of their work.
This final close-up of the Crown of Thorns on Christ’s head is layered with various shades and depths of images of blood; perhaps the two original images superimposed on each other would create a “stereo” image and build a three dimensional model of the image of the suffering Christ as a sign to us of Christ’s suffering for us.