No, not Father Christmas, but a rather festive image of an old seasonal card that I rather like.
A totally non-wargaming hobby post here. Consider yourselves forewarned.
The Grand Duchess and I sat by the fire in the library last night for quite some time after the Young Master's bedtime chatting about this and that while enjoying a nip of Irish Creme and the winter quiet of Totliegh-in-the-Wold. Sonja casually mentioned at some point that she would bake the stollen today (Saturday), which I had figured out already since one of the grocery bags I brought in from the car on her arrival home earlier yesterday evening had yeast packets, candied fruit, and powdered sugar in it. It was at that point that the German grammar discussion began.
Now, I have heard of families in the German-speaking parts of Europe where this also happens from time to time. More of which in just a moment.
When I was a graduate student in the 1990s (studying Scandinavian languages and literature, thank you very much) those of us pursuing said degrees were also required to learn French and/or German well enough to at least read through a text with the aid of a dictionary. There were special, accelerated semester-long courses offered by those departments to help along grad students in various fields with that endeavor. A big reading exam followed, and if you navigated it with relative success, one more box was checked off somewhere toward the completion of the intended degree.
The purpose behind all of this, I think, was to facilitate research in our various fields, a holdover from the days when there was considerable scholarship published in either French or German-language journals and books that had not been translated into English or other languages. I don't know if this is still truly the case, or was even then (mid- to late 1990s), but there you are. One of those many hoops that you needed to jump through.
But back to yours truly. I opted for three semesters (terms) of German for Graduate Reading Knowledge given the relative closeness of that language to Norwegian and Swedish, reading and speaking knowledge of which I pursued more actively. Those of you who have struggled through German, or another grammatically complex language, will now appreciate my intentionally long, rambling, and convoluted sentences this morning. And then there is the rather circuitous narrative.
Returning to the story at hand, I remember my professor -- a delightfully engaging and funny lady named Carla L., who has since retired I am told -- once relating a story about how good friends somewhere in the Frankfurt area. When in Germany, she always stayed with these friends, both of whom were teachers, professors of some kind, or lexicographers (I cannot quite remember). The amusing part of this particular anecdote , according to Dr. L., was that sometimes quite heated arguments about the intricacies of German vocabulary and grammar would erupt at the breakfast or dinner table of this particular couple. It was actually a very funny story to hear ol' Dr. L. tell it, and the two-dozen or so of us in the class were in stitches by its end.
This is, of course, why you pursue a graduate degree. For the jokes.
Anyway, as the Grand Duchess and I discussed the making of the planned stollen yesterday evening, a point about the precise gender of the word 'stollen' and how to render the sentence "Today is Stollen-Making Day" was considered and examined by the two of us for a good 20 minutes. The Grand Duchess speaks much better German than I do and has a much firmer grasp of that language's grammar as well, which you might expect given the amount of she spent in that country two decades ago and in the time since we first met back in August of 2000. In any case, our discussion came to a pleasant and amusing conclusion. And all without coming to blows, verbal or otherwise.
Apparently, it is 'das Stollen.' That is before the German case system gets hold of it and possibly changes the article depending on the kind of sentence one might construct and where in the sentence 'das Stollen' is placed.
These are the sorts of jolly pre-Christmas discussions we have here at Stollen Central. Kids, don't try this at home. . . You'll shoot your eye out!
At last! Here is a photograph of our 2017 stollen, made by The Grand Duchess and Young Master, who was instrumental in the kneading of this year's dough before it was set aside to rise. The stollen is every bit as good as it looks and amazing with some fresh black coffee, and we enjoyed our first slices a little while ago before the fire.