Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Prepare for St. Nicholas' Visit - Countdown to Christmas - Day 5

Wednesday was a full and fun day on the fifth day of the Countdown to Christmas. We started the day by making snowman bagels.

Olivia with the snowman bagels she made.

After toasting a bagel, the girls spread cream cheese on each half and then placed a baby carrot in the hole to represent the nose.

Sophia spreading the cream cheese on the bagel halves.

Then they added squares of black olives to represent the eyes and mouth.

Olivia adding olives for the eyes and mouth.

After breakfast, Sophia finished the popsicle snowflakes she started yesterday. She blended two colors of paint for her snowflakes - blue with silver; and purple with silver.

Sophia painting her purple snowflake.

After she painted two layers of paint she added glitter to the wet paint to make each one sparkle.

Sophia putting glitter on her blue and silver snowflake.

While Sophia worked on her snowflakes, Olivia and I worked on the Klausenbaum or Nicholas Tree. According to the St. Nicholas Center, the Kalusenbaum dates from the 15th century, predating both Advent wreaths and Christmas pyramids.

The completed and lit Klausenbaum on St. Nicholas Day.

The name comes from Nicholas (Niklaus/Klaus). The Klausenbaum is thought to have originated in southern Germany and is still common in Friesland (lower Saxony), the North, Baltic Sea Islands, and Sweden.

The tree, forming a tetrahedron with four equilateral triangles, symbolizes God, as the divine is revealed in the perfection of a triangle. The four triangles become one and three, forming a unit like the Trinity.

One in three and three in one becomes four. Four represents the presence of God in matter, as four is the symbol for the material world. 

The four apples represent the four elements: fire, earth, air, and water.

To make the Klausenbaum, I used an artificial wreath that I removed from the wire frame. Then, with a kitchen shears, I cut off each of the tiny branches.

Dowels ready to be wrapped and some already completed.
The scissor is on the wreath that is being cut apart.

Taking each section (which had a wire in the center), I wrapped it around a 5/16" dowel that was 12" long.

Wrapping one section at a time around the dowel.

Once each of the six dowels was covered (leaving about 1/2" uncovered at the end), I cut a small hole in each apple where the dowel would be inserted.

Cutting a hole in the apple so the dowel can be inserted.

The base of the Klausenbaum is completed first.

Olivia by the base of the Klausenbaum.

Next, take the remaining three dowels and repeat the process described above, except on the upper part of the apple.

Gretel and Olivia by the framework of the Klausenbaum,
minus the top apple and candle.

Once the framework is completed, then make three holes in the base of apple and place the three dowels in each of the holes.

On the top of the apple, cut a hole where a candle is placed. On St. Nicholas Day (December 6th), light the candle.

It was suggested by the St. Nicholas Center that the Klausenbaum be used as a centerpiece of put out for the birds to enjoy once the holiday passes.

After we were done with the Klausenbaum, we planted paper white bulbs. Although there were four bulbs in  the package we used, in the story of St. Nicholas three bulbs represent the three young ladies. They each received packages of gold from St. Nicholas when their father was worried that they wouldn't be able to get married since they didn't have dowries.

Olivia pouring water into the pot that had the soil packet.
Once the soil was ready, Sophia planted the bulbs and 
added moss on the top

We also added water to an amaryllis bulb that has already sprouted. According to the St. Nicholas Center, the amaryllis bulb represents "the spirit of life-giving love so well exemplified by St. Nicholas.

"Just as life and beauty blooms from a simple bulb, so, too, we want to the same to grow in our hearts and bloom in our lives."

Sophia adding a cup of water to the amaryllis bulb.

The last thing we did today in preparation for St. Nicholas Day on December 6th was make a Candy Crozier Coffee Cake. We chose to make a raspberry filling instead of the apricot-maraschino cherry filling. We made half the recipe and were able to make two large canes.

The candy crozier coffee cake 
(without the frosting).

The canes will be eaten for breakfast tomorrow. Before the bread is served, it is topped with a white frosting.

The other project we've been working on this week is packaging the books for the African Library Project. We have over 1,000 books that we need to package and mail by Friday. The almost-completed boxes are next to the sofa, while some of the books yet to be packaged are on the floor in groups of ten.

In the process of packaging up over 1,000 books
for the library in Lesotho, Africa.

It will be a tremendous relief when the books are mailed and are on their way to Africa. We all wish we could see the reaction of the students and teachers when the boxes of books arrive, and then they begin to unpack them. This, by far, is one of the best Christmas gifts we have given...even though we have never met the hundreds of children who we are giving the books to as part of the project.

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