I asked my mother to write about the angels that she displays each Christmas.

The Advent Angel Orchestra

Beginning in late November or early December, the weeks before Christmas are the season of Advent. Though the major display is the tree at Christmas, it is traditional in Germany for candles to be placed on a wreath, with a new one lit on each of the four Sundays. They are accompanied by suitable decorations, and families gather for afternoon coffee and cake.

Images of angels are one form of decoration for Advent, and Wendt and Kuhn of the Erzgebirge in Saxony have been making models for just over a hundred years; their green wings, each with eleven white dots, are a special and unifying feature. When Christa was born in 1939 her family already had an orchestra of angels, and the musicians and their conductor were set out each year.

Advent 1937

Advent display ca.1937, probably at the house of Christa’s aunt Helene Manock

When Christa came to Australia with her parents Hans and Charlotte in 1950 they brought a small group of the angels with them – including three trumpeters and a triangle-player – and the family continued to celebrate Advent in the new country.

Original angels from 1937 in 2017

Members of the original Boltz orchestra, Christmas 2017

From 1989, however, with the reunification, Christa and Rafe have been able to travel more easily to the east – the old DDR [German Democratic Republic], and the orchestra has grown considerably. The originals, now eighty years old, still perform, but they have been joined by candle- and lantern-bearers, there are new stringed instruments – including harps and a lute – while the percussionists have gongs and a tambourine and the brass has a trombone, a French horn and a small tuba. There are also an accordion player and a guitarist, and a stronger cohort of singers – three of them supported by bluebirds.

Fuller angel orchestra 2017

The fuller orchestra, Christmas 2017

Recruitment continues.