Helau and Alaaf – Carnival Tradition in Germany

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HELAU AND ALAAF – CARNIVAL TRADITION IN GERMANY

This upcoming Thursday, certain cities in Germany, including my hometown Dusseldorf, are going to be crowded with thousands of people – adults as well as children – dressed up in costumes. Welcome to the yearly tradition of Carnival.  For those of you who have never heard of this festivity before, I would describe it as a mixture of Halloween (minus the scary costumes) plus Mardi Gras.

Due to the fact that I grew up in a so-called Carnival central city, I basically was born into the tradition.  Today I can gladly say that I don’t miss it one bit, but back when I was living in Europe I did feel obligated to participate.  So what does Carnival consist of?

This time of the year, which is also named the 5th season, actually starts in November on 11-11 at 11:11 a.m., but the peak of the tradition happens around late February/ beginning of March on a Thursday.  That day called “Altweiber” (old women), it is common at work for women to cut off the men’s ties with scissors and then celebrate on the streets and at bars till late at night.

The highlight of the Carnival celebration is held on Monday with the Rose Monday parades, which are very popular in the cities of Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Mainz.  The 5th season usually ends that following Wednesday, called Ash Wednesday.

To sum it up, Carnival is one of the biggest events celebrated in Germany with parades, costume balls, and street parties.  There are two popular cries that you would be hearing a lot during this time: Helau in Dusseldorf and Mainz, and Alaaf in Cologne, Bonn, and Aachen.

I personally enjoyed this celebration more when I was a little kid in kindergarten and elementary school.  I mean, what kid doesn’t like to dress up.  My favorite costume of all time used to be a cat.  Cats were my favorite animal back then, so luckily for my parents they could recycle my costume every year and didn’t have to get a new one.

Being an adult, I never found it too appealing to put on a costume and get drunk on the streets, even though I participated a couple times.

What changed my perception a little bit was when I actually joined a show dance group that performed during masquerade balls.  I received this opportunity when I was living with my sister in a very small town in the mountains.

A friend of a friend happened to be one of the dancers, and since I loved dancing and had been doing it throughout my entire life, I saw the chance to become part of the group through that connection since they were in need of an additional performer.

For two years I was a member of this group.  And what can I say, I loved it.  I loved rehearsing for the show, performing on stage, and participating in tournaments.  But I still wasn’t too fond about everything else that included Carnival.

Once it was clear that I would be moving to the United Stands, I obviously had to end my time with this group.  It was a fun two years, but I am not missing it much nowadays.  But for everyone else who is a great fan of Carnival, have fun out there these next couple of days!

Image: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Das Nagetier

Troll - Das Nagetier

Das Nagetier

(Eine Kurzgeschichte von Dieter Kermas)
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Sitzen zwei Trolle auf einem bemoosten Felsen und betrachten das festliche Treiben unten im Tal. „Sie feiern das Mittsommerfest“, murmelt einer. „Das verstehe ich nicht“, sinniert der Zweite. „Sie wissen doch, dass die Tage jetzt kürzer werden und bald Schnee und Eis unser Land zudecken. Da lob ich mir die Wintersonnenwende. Da werden die Tage länger und die Sonne scheint bald wärmer.“

Ersterer schaut seinen Nachbarn an und bemerkt mit einem Grinsen: „Da sagst du nur, weil du seit zweihundert Jahren an Rheumatismus leidest.“
„Du kannst ruhig lästern,“ wehrt sich der Verspottete, „wenn ich dich so betrachte, hat der Zahn der Zeit auch an dir genagt. Schau dir deinen Bart an. Da ist mehr Moos drin als unsere Moosunterlage, ganz zu schweigen von deinen Augen, die man durch die Falten kaum erkennen kann.“

Der so Zurechtgewiesene schweigt eine Weile und meint dann bedächtig: „Du hast vom Zahn der Zeit gesprochen. Wenn ich es mir so überlege, gibt es kaum einen Zahn auf der Welt, der schärfer ist. Ich würde sogar behaupten, es ist der schärfste Zahn auf dieser Welt. Es gibt kein Lebewesen und kein Ding, an dem er nicht nagt. Denk mal an unseren großen Felsen, wo wir seit Jahrhunderten unsere Versammlungen haben. Der Felsen schien für die Ewigkeit gemacht. Er war so hart und glatt, dass es selbst uns nicht gelang ihn zu ritzen. Doch just vor zwei Jahren mussten wir sehen, wie sich ein Riss mitten durch unseren Stein zog. Ich bin mir sicher, dass er eines Tages in zwei Teile zerfallen wird. Es bedarf nur etwas Zeit.Diesem Nagetier entgeht niemand und nichts auf der Welt. Bedrückend, oder?“

Sein Nebenmann legt das Gesicht in noch mehr Falten und gibt zu bedenken: „Wenn das so ist, dann wäre es doch durchaus möglich, dass der Zahn der Zeit selbst unsere Erde zernagt?!“
„Wenn wir den Gedanken bis zum Ende verfolgen, dann wird es wohl so sein,“ stimmt der Angesprochene zu.
„Hast du nicht ein Beispiel, wo das Zeitnagetier mal was Gutes vollbracht hat?“, versucht dieser diesem Gedanken eine positive Wendung zu geben.
„Doch, habe ich,“ versichert der Moosbärtige verschmitzt lächelnd. „Vor ein paar Tagen traf ich einen Fuchs. Dieser berichtete mir freudestrahlend, dass er heute großes Glück gehabt hätte. Er wäre durch sein Revier geschnürt, als sein Bein plötzlich auf etwas Spitzes getreten sei. Als er nachgeschaut habe, sei ihm der Schreck in alle Glieder gefahren. Sein Fuß stand mitten in einer von den Menschen versteckten Schlagfalle.“
„Und wo ist da das große Glück?“, kam die Frage des Zuhörers.
„Das ist schnell erzählt“, fuhr ersterer fort. Der Zahn der Zeit hatte so lange an dem Eisen genagt, bis der Rost die ganze Falle überzogen und sie somit unbrauchbar gemacht hatte.“

Der zweite Troll rieb sich die Kartoffelnase, stand auf und schlug vor: „ auf das gute Ende der Geschichte sollten wir einen trinken. Wenn es dunkel wird und die Menschen müde vom Feiern schlafen, schleichen wir zu den Hütten und finden sicher etwas, womit wir anstoßen können.“

© Dieter Kermas

Image: Pixabay.com

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Dieter KermasDieter Kermas, CaliforniaGermans Author and a true Berliner, turned to writing after he retired from his profession as an engineer. Family and friends urged him to document his many experiences during his childhood in wartime Germany. This made for a collection of various essays which have been published here at CaliforniaGermans. (You can find the stories here on CaliforniaGermans.com by putting “Dieter Kermas” into the Search Box.) Apart from his childhood memories he is also sharing some of his short stories and poems on CaliforniaGermans. Dieter Kermas, who loves to write, is currently working on his first novel. Some of his work has been included in anthologies.

To get in touch with Dieter Kermas, please send an email with subjectline “Dieter Kermas” to: californiagermans@gmail.com
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Karneval – Carnival – Fasching in CA

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How about ‘Karneval’ time in California?

I am not sure about other expats, but since I have moved over here to California, Fasching has moved far away from me. Not that I suddenly became a ‘Faschingsmuffel’ (carnival grouch). No, but no one out here in California celebrates Fasching the way I remember it from Germany.

You can participate in Mardi Gras celebrations in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but that’s not our German Fasching! Some Italian restaurant recently has taking advantage of this ‘fourth season’, as some call the carnival time in Germany, to push their new menu. But other than a special menu, no Venetian masquerade was offered with it. So, I wonder what food they might promote. A dressed up Pizza perhaps?

Anyway, Fasching is a wonderful tradition in Germany, but really nobody celebrates it here in California the way we are used to, UNLESS you have children or have a lot of German friends, who throw a ‘Karneval’ party.

Luckily some German schools out here try to keep our children in the loop and teach them some German traditions. They put on a fun ‘Faschings Fete’ and teach our children what Fasching is all about. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, they even have some delicious Krapfen or Berliner, the official Carnival’s food…and, the real reason I love Fasching!

So, pack up your children  and let them experience some German Fasching out here in CA!

Following are some festivities we could locate. If you hear of some other Faschings parties. Please let us know!

12. February 2017Kinderkarneval at Phoenix club. A fun filled event for children of all ages at 1:10pm . More information: http://www.thephoenixclub.com/?upcoming-event=kinderkarneval

25. February 2017German School Campus in Newport Beach celebrates from 4pm-6pm at the Youth Center Newport Sea Base, 1931 West Coast Why, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Please make a reservation:
                                                                                            Age group: 7 to 18                                                                                                 
GERMAN SCHOOL campus: (949) – 229 – 7389
Email: mail@GERMANSCHOOLcampus.com
Age group: 4 to 6
Ute’s KinderSchule: (949) – 786 – 3877
Email: UtesKinderSchule@gmail.com
For more information: http://germanschoolcampus.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/karneval-flyer-2017.pdf

25 February 2017 The German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV)’s East Bay campus invites people of all ages to explore not only a new school location in Emeryville but also celebrate the beloved Karneval tradition with them!
Start out with an Open House at 11 am, then join in the German Family Karneval in the Bay Area at 1pm.
1070 41st Street, Emeryville
11 am – 1 pm: Open House
1 – 5 pm: Karneval
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/GISSV-Family-Karneval-313153975557456/?pnref=story

25 February 2017 – GASA German American School Association’s    will have GASA Board member Susan Navarro and her husband act as this year’s Prinzenpaar of the Anaheim Karnevalsgesellschaft. Please join them at the Prunksitzung in the Pavilion at the Phoenix Club, featuring German satire, comedy, music & dancing, performances by the Prinzengarde, skits, laughter and fun. Saturday evening, at 7 pm, at the Phonenix Club in Anaheim.                    Address: 1340 S Sanderson Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806. Admisssion is free.

…and what concerns those delicious Krapfen? We got word that Old World Huntington Beach has fresh ones daily, and Esther’s German Bakery in Los Altos serves them as well!

Helau!


Credits: Pixabay.com

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Die waltende Stimme

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Die waltende Stimme

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A Drabble (story of 100 words) by Merrill Lyew Emanuel
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Wir bewegten uns auf dem Berlinertordamm in Richtung Borgfelderstraße. Die Hitze lag flimmernd über dem Straßenpflaster. Aber die gebietende Frauenstimme kommandierte unbarmherzig,

“…noch acht Kilometer geradeaus“.

Wir standen seit frühmorgens auf den Beinen und die Erschöpfung machte sich in unseren Gemütern bereits deutlich bemerkbar.

„Wir kippen alle gleich um.“, murmelte eine Kollegin hinter mir.

Ich sehnte mich nach dem Feierabend bei einem kühlen Glas Alsterwasser. Schließlich befanden wir uns auf der Billstedter Hauptstraße. Unser Ziel war schon deutlich zu erkennen.

„Jetzt sind wir da.“, atmete ich erleichtert auf.

Ich drehte den Zündschlüssel herum und endlich verstummte auch dieses nervige Navigationsgerät…

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©Merrill Lyew 2016
Image: Pixabay.com

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Merrill Lyew EmanuelAs a recent retiree, Merrill Lyew Emanuel now has time for his old and new hobbies. Within his hobbies are writing fan fiction in German, solving chess puzzles, repairing things at home that are not broken, doing a little bit of social media, reading every and anything that looks like a book, traveling a little, and taking snapshots with his mirrorless camera.

Having lived in Germany, Costa Rica and the USA, he is fluent in the languages of these countries. As a professional geographer he traveled profusely throughout Latin America. He is living in Southern California for over thirty years. Find more of his work at http://www.merrillius.net

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SOCAL German Day 2017 at UCI

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Yesterday on Tuesday, February 7 the UCI Department of European Languages and Studies invited to its SOCAL German Day 2017.  A day that started out with German weather in fact. But despite initial rain showers students and teachers came out in big numbers to learn what UCI’s German Studies Program had to offer.

German School campus students and the school’s founder Frau Ursula Schoeneich attended as well and joined in the three hours filled program whichUCI -German consul was put together by Glenn Levine, Professor of German and German Language Program Director at UCI. Before the crowd of students spread out to find their respective session, School of Humanities Dean Georges van den Abbeele as well as the German Deputy Consul General Kathrin Steinbrenner welcomed teachers and students to the event.

A variety of interesting and fun classes were offered including sessions led by Peter Zykowski of the Goethe Institute San Francisco, a workshop with Hanni Geist from the DAAD, and daad-workshop-with-hanni-geista class with Vera Dindoyal from the ZfA-Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Students of German School campus won the German Trivia Quiz 1 with 20 to 11 against other High School students. They joined classes of “Getting a Degree in Germany”, “Step into German with Soccer and Music”, and a “German Theater workshop”.

At the end of the event everyone could enjoy a UCI Campus Tour led by UCI’s German Studies students in German or English. By that time California sun had come out again as well and begged for a visit at the university’s ‘Mensa’ (food court). Frau Schoeneich and her German School campus students took that moment to discuss the day’s exciting moments while going through their gift bags filled with information and enjoying California fare.

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Text/Images: German School campus & CaliforniaGermans

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