Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Feast of Saint Boniface

We had an awesome time celebrating the patron saint of Germany, Saint Boniface today! When I was two my family moved to Germany for my dad's job in the Air Force. My younger sister was actually born while we were stationed there. I don't remember much of our time there since I was young, but my parents have told me many stories about German traditions and everyday life. I thought it would be neat to explore some German culture today in honor of St. Boniface. Here is a short description of the impact St. Boniface made on pagans in Germany.
 "An interesting tradition, part history, part legend and very popular in Germany, claims that the Christmas tree dates back to the eighth century. This legend is based on a historical figure, St Boniface, and even a historical event, the destruction of Odin's oak. St Boniface (675-754) was the English Bishop Winfrid who went to Germany in the eighth century, to Hesse to be precise, to preach the Christian faith as a missionary from the Church of Rome. After a period of apparently successful Gospel preaching, Boniface went to Rome to confer with Pope Gregory II (715-731). After a long absence, he returned to Geismar, Germany, for Christmas 723, and felt personally offended on discovering that the Germans had reverted to their former idolatry of pagan divinities and were preparing to celebrate the winter solstice by sacrificing a young man under Odin's sacred oak tree. Fired by holy anger, as was Moses by the golden calf, Bishop Boniface took up an axe and dared to cut down the oak. This courageous, historically documented act meant the triumph of Christianity in Germany over the pagan divinities.

All this is historically documented. The rest belongs to the legend which tells how, at the first blow of the axe, a strong gust of wind instantly brought down the tree. The astounded Germans fearfully recognized the hand of God in this event and humbly asked Boniface how they should celebrate Christmas. The Bishop, the legend continues, pointed to a small fir tree that had miraculously remained upright and intact beside the debris and broken branches of the fallen oak. Boniface was familiar with the popular custom of taking an evergreen plant into the house in winter and asked everyone to take home a fir tree. This tree signifies peace, and as an evergreen it also symbolizes immortality; with its top pointing upwards, it additionally indicates heaven, the dwelling place of God."

Excerpt above taken from EWTN

I would have loved to take the children on a Nature Walk to talk about evergreens and there importance but we had some thunderstorms blow in from the Gulf in the afternoon. I am sorry there aren't more pictures, I was having a lazy day. I was thinking about making some paper "Christmas trees" but my laziness was contagious apparently and the kids just wanted me to read the story of Saint Boniface from our Book of Saints: Part 4 and everyone took a long afternoon nap.
I made some Bratwurst for lunch and Potato soup for dinner. Dessert was a big slice of German Chocolate cake with pecan coconut icing! YUM!!!

I plan on drinking some Glühwein tonight as well. Glühwein is actually mulled wine (with added sugar and spices) its usually sold at small vendors in Germany during the winter and Christmas season. I thought it would be the PERFECT ending to a long day and still would incorporate the impact St. Boniface had on Christmas tradition and Germany! Thank goodness my dad bought me several bottles and I still have one leftover from Christmas :o) I really like to add a fresh orange slice to my glass but it still tastes great as is.

Before I reward myself with my delicious wine its time to workout with my boys! I think if it wears them out and helps them sleep tonight we may start a daily routine. Does anyone else have any other suggestions for this feast day? I would love to hear about them!

Prayer to Saint Boniface
Dear Winfred, a British Benedictine, you were called Boniface by the Holy Father who sent you to evangelize Germany. Aided by many monks and relying on God's grace obtained through assiduous prayer, you made countless converts. Imbue us with great missionary zeal and help us in our spiritual renewal, O Leader who died for the Lord. Amen.
Saint Boniface, pray for us!

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