Today our little girl was baptized in the very same church as her brother back in 2014. It is also the same church were I was baptized all those year ago in 1987. As I have written in the article “Our Son’s Baptism” the church is called the Finnish Seamen’s Church and was founded 1966 in Hamburg. We decided to have Nathalie’s baptism in the same church as it just seems to be already a tradition in our family by now.
Unlike at our son’s baptism the church was rather empty this time as we were to only people there. The only guests besides my parents were my brother and his girlfriend. Back in 2014 another family had their child’s baptism and they were a big big family. This time it was for us much more relaxed and obviously much shorter. Only when it came to the singing part is sounded a bit weak as all of us are suffering under the common cold thanks to Nathan who brings back home all kind of craziness from kindergarten.
We expected the worst behaviour of our daughter as she just loves to complain and cry whenever she gets bored with something. However we were blessed with a little angel for this day as she smiled during the whole ceremony and was watching the reverend with big eyes when she was playing the piano and singing. Apparently our little Nathalie loves church songs as she never cared at all about my or my wife’s music! After the ceremony we had just like three years ago some bread, coffee, Karelian Pirogs and Pulla. Nothing fancy but enough for us and in Finland everything is usually pretty low-key.
So what is now the complete name of our daughter? Her official name is Nathalie 逸诗 (Yishi) Amalia. The first name here again is something English and German speakers shouldn’t have any problems with, the second name is obviously her Chinese name and the third one is her Finnish name which we took from her great-grandmother from my mother’s side. In comparison our son’s full name is Nathan 逸然(Yiran) Antti. You can see they are very similar and Antti was actually the name of my mother’s Uncle.
What naming ceremonies/ traditions do you have?
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No this is not the title of some old gore horror movie but a Lutheran holiday in Germany. Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead) was introduced back in 1816 by the Prussian King Frederick William III of Prussia to make the last Sunday before Advent a general celebration in remembrance of the dead. This holiday is observed in all German states and there are some special rules as well such as no music is allowed to be played in public and dancing is forbidden as well!
This Sunday of the Dead we drove together with my parents to Hamburg to the Ohlsdorf Cemetary, trying to find for the very last time the grave of a dear relative of my Dad (Uncle Kurt). Not that he was a close relative, my father does not even remember anymore how they were related but my dad loved him and even bicycled in his youth all the way to Hamburg from our town to visit him. I don’t have too many memories of dear Uncle Kurt as I was just five years old when he passed away. What I still remember is strangely the layout of his apartment, the smell of the cigar smoke and that we always ate cheese cake there. When he passed away he was buried in Ohlsdorf Cemetery and with this cemetery the trouble starts when trying to find a grave again.
Ohlsdorf is a bit special as it is actually the biggest rural cemetery in the World and the fourth-largest cemetery in the world. It is just huge with wide streets for cars to pass through and even bus stops. With an area of 391 hectares (966 acres) you might understand why they need those streets and the bus stops. Only once after the funeral my parents were able to locate the grave and that was back in the 90’s. We had tried several times afterwards but to no avail. This time we really needed to find it as by next year the grave will be most likely be removed. The thing in Germany is that you pay for the grave for 25 years. In case no one pays again for another 25 years the grave will be most likely removed by the cemetery to make space for some new arrivals. However this time we were prepared as I had contacted the cemetery and asked about location of the grave. Though we knew where to search we still had to check several hundred graves till we found the right one. We were probably the only relatives who had ever visited his grave since the funeral and lit for the last time a candle for him and his sister.
After the cemetery we wanted to have something more fun and visited the Christmas Bazaar in the Finnish Seaman’s Church. You might remember that church from the time I wrote about Nathan’s Baptizing there back in 2014. All the Nordic Seaman’s Churches which are next to each other ( The Swedish, Danish and the Norwegian Church) hold this Christmas Bazaar every year for two weekends in a row. As always it was full there, really full. It kind of felt like going around the streets in China just that it was more quiet and organized. Right in the beginning Nathan attracted the attention of Santa and got some chocolate (which he didn’t share!!!). There was all kind of Finnish Christmas decoration for sale and of course food. We also met some other Finnish people who live in our town and even met one of my old Confirmation pals (Affirmation of Baptism). We only went around the Finnish Seaman’s Church as we had little time left so we could not visited the other Nordic Churches and see what they had to offer. Anyhow it was surprising for us that the Finnish Church even got a little supermarket in the basement with all kind of Finnish (overpriced) goods.
This Totensonntag was the first I went to a cemetery and it felt a bit strange. I guess it might be also because I know it was the last time I was able to visit Uncle Kurt’s grave and that all things come to an end at some point. Luckily we went to the Christmas Bazaar to lighten up the mood a bit otherwise it would have been a really depressing and rainy Sunday today.
Do you have some special day such as the German Totensonntag in remembrance of the dead?
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