Category Archives: Cultural Happenings

It’s Father’s Day in the USA – Vatertag in the USA

Today is Father’s Day here in America. This day of honorig all Dads is celebrated in the USA every year on the third Sunday in June, almost a month later than in Germany!

In Germany, Father’s Day – ‘Vatertag’ coincides with the church holiday of ‘Christi Himmelfahrt’ (Ascension of Jesus). It’s a national holiday and it’s always happening on a Thursday since the Ascension of Jesus is celebrated 39 days after Easter Sunday.

Interestingly, not all German speaking countries are celebrating Father’s Day on the same day. Austria for example has its Father’s Day on the second Sunday in June, while Switzerland initially didn’t have a dedicated Father’s Day until 2009. Since then the official Swiss Father’s Day is happening on the first Sunday in June.

How is Father’s Day celebrated in Germany? It used to be or often still is a day, on which fathers/men celebrate themselves and enjoy each other’s company in fact without family and children! In North Germany and East Germany, Father’s Day tellingly is called ‘Herrentag’ (Day of the Men) .

But more and more young families nowadays celebrate Father’s Day pretty much the same like we do here in the United Sates and make it a day with the family. I personally remember Father’s Day being a day for and with my Dad.

While Father’s Day has been an official holiday in Germany since 1934, the United States’ first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910 in the State of Washington; however it wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day became a permanent national holiday in the USA.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! 

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Image: Pixabay.com


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Pfingsten (Pentecost) – A Holiday Observed in Germany

“Pfingstrose”

Today is ‘Pfingstsonntag’ (Pentecost Sunday) and unless you attend a church service you most likely won’t know about it. Unlike Germany, the US doesn’t observe this day as a holiday.  In Germany on the other hand even ‘Pfingstmontag’ (the Monday following Pentecost Sunday) is part of the holiday and offices, markets etc. are closed.

For us as children growing up in Germany, ‘Pfingsten’ meant starting a two-week vacation and once ‘Pfingstferien’, Pentecost vacation, was over, we knew the end of the school year was near as well. ‘Pfingsten’ with its warmer and sunnier weather rang in the summer for us, even if the date didn’t coincide with the official date of the summer solstice.

Commonly used expressions that incorporate ‘Pfingsten’ are the ‘Pfingstochse’ and the ‘Pfingstrose’. A ‘Pfingstochse’ we call someone, who is far overdressed and seems to be adorned like the ox, that was leading its herd to the green pastures in the mountains for the first time in the year and, as part of this tradition, was festively adorned with bows, bells and such.

‘Pfingstrose’ is the flower ‘peony’ in English. Even though not actually a rose the ‘Pfingstrose’ is reminiscent of a rose in its beauty and color, and most of the time starts flowering just about the time when Pentecost is happening.

Frohe Pfingsten!

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Image: ©CaliforniaGermans


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“FUTURE OR PAST? CLIMATE POLICY AS DRIVER FOR MODERN ECONOMIES” – Environmental Forum with Barbara Hendricks at Stanford Woods Institute

Please join the Stanford Woods Institute Environmental Forum with Barbara Hendricks, the German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

Hendricks Flyer

Barbara Hendricks has been Germany’s Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety since December 2013. Before that she served as the federal treasurer of the German Social Democratic Party. From 1998 to 2007, she was a Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Ministry of Finance. Since 1994, Barbara Hendricks, who has a doctorate in history, has represented her home district of Kleve in the German Bundestag.

Reception to follow.

More information can be found at: https://woods.stanford.edu/news-events/event/woods-environmental-forum-future-or-past-climate-policy-driver-modern-economics

For questions, please contact Mollie Field at mfield1[AT]stanford.edu.

DATE AND TIME

Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM (PDT)

LOCATION

Encina Hall, Bechtel Conference Center, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is working toward a future in which societies meet people’s needs for water, food, health and other vital services while protecting and nurturing the planet. As the university’s hub of interdisciplinary environment and sustainability research, the Stanford Woods Institute is the go-to place for Stanford faculty, researchers and students to collaborate on environmental research. Their interdisciplinary work crosses sectors and disciplines, advancing solutions to the most critical, complex environmental and sustainability challenges.

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German May Celebrations in California are Underway

As Germans we are familiar with May 1st as the “Tag der Arbeit”. It’s a National Holiday in Germany and it’s often times also a day filled with protests and demonstrations in the bigger cities. The Union (Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund) is organizing rallies on that day to commemorate the achievements in the labor movement.

But there are also the May 1st traditions that go way back in history like the observation of the Walpurgisnacht (Night of the witches) or the stealing of the village maypole by a neighboring village. I am sure you remember the Maitanz (May Pole Dance). Many of us had to perform one in our Kindergarten years to enchant our parents. I certainly still remember mine or better just the fact that one little boy got terribly entangled in all the bands around the may pole. It’s for sure not as easy a dance as it might look!

Many German clubs and schools in California keep those wonderful traditions alive and invite the public to their annual Maifest (May celebrations).

In the following please find a roundup of what we have heard of:

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Highland Hall Waldorf School invites to their annual May Faire with May Pole Dancing, Native American Pow Wow, Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles and Country Music/Folk Dancing. Lost of Activities are offered as well. There will be live music, storytelling,delectable healthy baked goods and food vendors, exquisite artisan vendors, children’s games, arts and craft-making activities for ALL ages!  Visitors will  be able to enjoy time in our farm, and the Native American Village.

When: Saturday May6 from 10am-4pm , Admission is FREE!

Where: Highland Hall Waldorf School, 17100 Superior Street, Northridge, CA 91325

More Info at http://www.HighlandHallWaldorfMayFaire.com

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The Phoenix Club in Anaheim celebrates its traditional Maifest combined with its Kinderfest on May 7th , 2017. The German American League Clubs will start out the festivities with a parade at 1pm. Lots of activities for children will be offered. Witness the election of the Maikönigin (May Queen)and of course the famous May Pole Dance and much more.

When: Sunday, May 7th from 11am-6pm, Admission $7 (Pre-sale) or $10 at the gate. Children 16 and under are free.

Where: Phoenix club Biergarten, 1340 S. Sanderson Avenue
Anaheim, California 92806

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Tivoli Rainbow Garden Preschool in L.A. has its May Faire Celebration with May Pole Dancing, Music Performances, Puppet Show, Face painting and much more.

When: Saturday, May 20th from 11am-3pm; suggested donation $10

Where: Tivoli Rainbow Garden Preschool, 3170 Stoner Ave,Los Angeles, CA 90066

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GISSV German International School in Emeryville has its Multicultural Summerfest on May 20, 2017. There will be a Rummage Sale with finds like German books and more. You can enjoy the International Food Festival and Live Music and Activities for kids of all ages, with arts & crafts, woodworking, yoga, soccer and more.

When: Saturday, May 20th, from 1pm-4pm

Where: 1070 41st Street, Emeryville, CA

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Oakland Nature Friends & Tourist Club celebrates its traditional Maifest with Bavarian Schuhplattler Dancers, the Gruber Family Band and German food, beer and dancing. There is something for everyone of all ages at the Maifest!

When: Sunday, May 7th from 12pm-6pm. Admission: Buy tickets online!  (Kids under 14 are free.)

Where: Oakland Nature Friends, 3115 Butters Drive, Oakland, CA 94602

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Sacramento Turn Verein has its 49th annual Bockbierfest! Experience traditional German Folk Dancing, the Alpentanzer Schuhplattler, a traditional German Choir while you enjoy authentic German food and Bockbierfest Bier.

When: Saturday May 6th from 3pm – midnight. Admission: Buy Tickets online!

Where: Sacramento Turn Verein, 3349 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95816


Image: Courtesy of Highland Hall Waldorf School/ Taylor Myers

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Art Sampling in Los Angeles

Art Walks are calling

These days beautiful Southern California weather and warm temperatures are beckoning us outside. What better time to check out the LA art scene, especially since some great art events are just around the corner.

One is in fact happening tomorrow. The Brewery Art Walk Community opens its doors tomorrow and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. More than 100 participating artists in residence let you experience up close how they live and work. If you see some artwork you like, strike up a conversation with the artist right there and then. At the Brewery Art Walk you are basically breathing art. Anything you can remotely call art, you can find here.

Brewery Art Walk is fun, it’s hip and eclectic! There is a spring and a fall art walk and we used to visit at least one of each every year. The atmosphere is definitely a bit crazy but totally fun and groovy. Even people-watching becomes an adventure.

The famous Venice Art Walk is coming up on May 21st (12pm to 6pm). Contrary to the Brewery Art Walk it is not a free event since the proceeds of the event go to the Venice Family Clinic.  Artists as well as architects are opening their homes and studios to the public and let everyone participate in their creative process. Special Studio tours are often offered and apart from fascinating art you can see some stunning homes. The impressive silent auction features famous names like Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston , Sam Durant and many more.

What’s the atmosphere here? You are walking along the cool Venice community close to the beach with all its restaurants and bars. It’s quite a different setting compared to the Brewery Art Walk which is housed in a previous industrial zone with artists’ lofts in former warehouses. And, yes, people-watching is definitely a must also here… you are in Venice Beach after all!

We started our “art walk season” with last week’s Spring Fling at Bergamot Station. Another art haven, this time in Santa Monica. The venue is easily accessible with LA metro’s Expo Line. If you arrive by car, parking can sometimes become a bit challenging.

The Spring Fling event was a collective Open House of about 30 galleries, welcoming art enthusiasts to check out what’s hot in the contemporary art world. Bergamot Station used to be one of our regular art venues to get our ‘art fix’ quite some years ago. So upon hearing of the spring event we packed up the family and left for LA.

Having not been here for a while I perceived the audience and overall vibe as quite a bit different from the exhilaratingly crazy, creative chaos at the Brewery Art Walk. While still colorful and vibrant the audience seemed to be more on the ‘sophisticated’ side and one could feel that the venue here was managed by various gallery businesses rather than an artist community. But that didn’t mean the art was less intriguing. In fact some of the galleries put on some well curated shows. Walking through Bergamot Station felt more like visiting a bunch of micro museums.

It was quite a coincidence that we stumbled upon the abstract architectural sculptures by German artist, Manfred Müller from Düsseldorf, whose work was featured in a show called “Not From Here” at the Rosegallery.

Taking in all what Bergamot Station had to offer, we particularly enjoyed the art installation “People I Saw But Never Met” by Zadok Ben-David at Shoshana Wayne Gallery. 3,000 hand-cut aluminum figures are installed on the gallery floor covered in white sand (see this post’s featured image).

Another highlight was William Turner Gallery’s “Chance and Circumstances”, an exhibition that featured new works by 91 year-old famous and prolific Los Angeles painter, Ed Moses, a central figure in post-war West Coast Art.

One Show that really captivated us long after we had already left for home was Stephen Wilkes’ “Ellis Island- Ghosts of Freedom” at the Peter Fetterman Gallery. The photography exhibition took you on a trip through an abandoned hospital on Ellis Island that the early immigrants to this country had to pass through before they were allowed access to the ‘land of the free’. Stephen Wilkes captured the eerie atmosphere and its history so perfectly that one was literally pulled into each picture’s story.

One picture was taken from such an angle that the Statue of Liberty was visible in the mirror over a sink in a room, where some Eastern European woman might have had to stay to get her health monitored. Wilkes writes in his remarks next to the image, that he was wondering if this was perhaps the closest she could ever get to the freedom she so had longed for…

Striking, thought provoking compositions left you wanting to find out more about this part of history. Apparently Wilkes just came to visit the hospital for a one-time article assignment but it turned into a 5-year project. You can feel his fascination with his project in his exceptional capturing of the various moods and energy in every image. History comes alive under his camera and we seem to become an invisible witness of the many impactful moments that might have had occurred at that time in history.

Still in thought we solemnly made our way back to our car and were grateful for the appeasing pictures by Tamayo and Diego Rivera at the Latin American Masters Gallery before we found ourselves back on the freeway chaos of the late afternoon traffic.

All Images: ©CaliforniaGermans

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