Christmas Tree Candles and Zimsterne Cookies

Christmas Tree Candles 2009 by steveluscher

One of the most wonderful Christmas trees that I have ever had the good fortune to see, I saw when I was first married. I won’t tell you how many years ago. My husband had recently finished graduate school and I had two small children. We lived in an apartment complex where an international community of graduate students lived. One of the couples was from Switzerland who lived near us had two little children. When Christmas time came the wife told me that she was getting all the decorations from Switzerland. But most important, she had asked her parents in Switzerland to send her all the handmade Christmas decorations and the special candle holders and candles that were used to decorate a Christmas tree in Switzerland. And she told me that when the tree was decorated she would invite me and my family to see her tree.

On the evening of Christmas day she told my family to come at a certain hour. She did not put the tree in the living room. She had cleared everything out the children’s bedroom. And in that room all that was there, in the center of the room, was the decorated tree with some chairs around it. We all entered the room to the most wonderfully fragrant smell. No room freshener could equal that fragrance. I imagine she must have bought a balsam tree- in those days, I really did know the names of the evergreen trees. The candles were all lit. There was not one electric light or glass bulb on the tree. Instead there were lovely handmade Swiss decorations. It was magical. Both the fragrance and the candles created the magic. We all sat there with our mouths open at the sight- sitting until the last candle finished burning. I believe the lights had been out and when the candles were no longer burning she put on the lights so that we could enjoy the interesting decorations.

People are worried about fires during the Christmas holiday. And with good reason! But my Swiss friend was very cautious and careful. That was why she took everything out of the room so that the tree was the only thing that was in there, besides seats. She did not let any child into the room near the tree unless an adult was there. And an adult had to be in the room when any candle was lit. This type of tree, using only candles, is for the extremely careful. I can understand why few people use candles on a tree. But I am so happy that I had the opportunity to experience such a tree. I imagine that if trees like this are still used in Switzerland or even Germany or Austria, it must be a wonderful time to visit.

Zimtsternhaufen by taciturn.thunder

Then she served us the most delicious homemade Swiss cookies. They were scrumptious. I think the Swiss are among the best bakers. She had the Zimsterne or cinnamon stars cookies that I adore. But I wish I had the recipes for all of her cookies. One of them I know had hard boiled egg yolks mashed into the dough. One site that has some Swiss cookies is this. If any reader has other old fashioned Swiss cookie recipes, I would especially like some with hard boiled egg yolks but even if you have Swiss cookie recipes without, please share them with TheGardenLady blog.

I was Googling to see if one can still buy the candle holders and the candles for Christmas trees and found one German site on line.

I do not know where to go to buy the handmade ornaments that I had seen those many years ago, but if you are lucky enough to be in Switzerland this month perhaps you can go to some of their special Christmas markets to see if they are still being sold.   See here.

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