It’s Christmas!

DW Transtel | 30 4958
30 mins / ep
Episodes 1 – 3 (New Episodes)

01 The Real Story of Santa
The Father Christmas story is a blend of pagan rituals and the legend of Saint Nicholas of Myra, born around 270 A.D. in Anatolia. Nicholas was said to have performed many miracles. After his death, his remains were taken to Italy and France. He became known as a protector of children and the patron saint of several European cities. As legend would have it, every year on December 6 he would take to the streets and give out presents and sweets to well-behaved children. The Dutch called him Sinter Klaas, and emigrants from The Netherlands took his story with them to America. In the 19th century, a group of writers and artists in New York City created the modern Father Christmas: a jolly, rotund old man with a white beard and a red coat who comes down the chimney with a bag of gifts. And this is how most of the world knows him today: An icon of pop culture and hero of consumerism.

02 The Taste of Christmas: Traditional Viennese Baking
Christmas is a time to forget the waistline for a bit and indulge in a few sweet treats. Homes are filled with the smells of baked goods flavored with dried fruits and warming spices. European Christmas baking traditions have a long history with origins in pagan customs. But in the early days, sugar was a luxury and only the wealthy could afford to eat such delicacies. Today, Viennese confectioners’ windows at Christmastime are a veritable showcase of Austrian baking culture: from stollen to vanilla crescent cookies, Linzer cookies to meringues, gingerbread to Tyrolean fruit bread. Some pastry chefs still use recipes handed down through generations of bakers – secrets they will never divulge.

03 Silent Night, Holy Night: The Story of a World-Famous Song
More than 200 years ago, a song was written to bring comfort and hope at Christmastime. Over the years, “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (Silent Night, Holy Night) has become a hymn for peace sung in 300 languages and dialects worldwide. Few other songs can claim such immense global fame – although hardly anyone knows the names of its creators, Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr! What’s so special about this simple melody and the six verses? “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht“ was written in the 19th century at a time of great hardship and hunger in the Salzburg region. After the Napoleonic wars and several bitter winters, people were struggling to survive. Historians explain how the song reached the U.S. via Russia and Germany and eventually captivated the world. In 2011, “Silent Night” was even included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

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