Tag Archives: Expat

Happy First of December! Countdown to Christmas has officially started!

The story of the Advent Calendar

Germans love Christmas. In fact, for Germans, it’s the most important holiday of the year!

Many traditions help us Germans prepare for and enjoy the Christmas season to the fullest, like Saint Nicholas Day on Dec 6th or the four Sundays of Advent, Christmas cookies and much more.

One tradition, however, stands out since it is equally loved by children and adults. The Advent Calendar!

Who doesn’t like a countdown to a highly anticipated event?

Apparently many don’t want to miss it. In places all around the world, one can now find these magic Advent Calendars that hide chocolates or little toys behind their secret doors. Even beer calendars are available or calendars filled with a variety of liquor filled chocolates. The possibilities seem endless…

In the old days, just a beautiful little picture behind a door would make kids happy. Today some Advent Calendars made it even online, published by companies that discovered it as another tool to engage customers.

The first Advent Calendar originated in Germany in 1904 when Gerhard Lang published a simple one as an insert in a newspaper in Stuttgart. It was a raving success! So Lang decided to print a new one every year. The designs became more and more elaborate from calendars that worked like a dial to calendar houses filled with chocolates to even a calendar in Braille for the blind.

But how did he get the idea to make a calendar that would count down the days to Christmas in the first place?

The idea of counting down to Christmas Eve already existed in different ways. Some families used to mark the days to Christmas with chalk on their doors, in other families children were putting one piece of hay every day into a manger in which Baby Jesus would be laid on Christmas Eve.

Gerhard Lange’s mother however handcrafted a calendar for his then little son that would be filled with a little meringue for every day in December leading up to Christmas Eve. That caused a lasting impression and, as an adult, inspired Gerhard Lange to expand on his mother’s idea of an Advent Calendar.

The ‘modern’ Advent Calendar was born and started out to conquer the world in all kinds of variations!

Wir wünschen eine schöne Vorweihnachtszeit!  

Happy Holiday Season!

Images: Pixabay.com


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INTIMACY

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Intimacy

(A Poem by Nils-Henrik Fuertes)
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Laughter echoes off the timeworn landscape of birch cabinetry
Pealing in my ears as I sit on
My straight-backed chair,
Chattering of my siblings such an archaic sound
Yet worn with a love I never forget.

The glare of cheerful electric lights enlightens every corner
Enhancing the metallic sparkle of the fridge.
Dull green paint on the walls
A faded memory of the old days
Like an endearing grandparent.

Calm air flows smoothly from the humming kitchen vent.
Classical music ever-present in the background.
Dancing flames tapping
A variety of rattling pots on the excited stove
Attempting to consume the savory scents drifting about the room.

Sugary orange yams with cinnamon
Melting in a tray of warm creamy butter,
Homemade goodness enveloping my senses.
A stark contrast to the homely furnishing
Splashing color upon the scene.

Dishes bang on the smooth granite countertop
Met with the subtle and sophisticated
Tinkling from champagne glasses,
And the merry jingle of silverware,
Preparing for the feast.
Ice-cold cider whooshes into glasses with gusto
Eggnog clouds my nostrils,
Radiating heat from the oven clings to my face.
Tenderly.
Softened by the breeze of pattering footsteps.

Water merrily babbles from the sink like a well-known relative
Harmonizing with the whistling of the teapot.
Grouchily the oven screeches on its rusty hinges
Competing with the oblivious chirping of my parakeet
Not aware that a bird is being prepared for dinner!

The spice-filled pumpkin pie waits on the microwave
Awaiting its moment of glory,
Gravy splashes in the boat.
Mashed potatoes steaming impatiently
As the cranberry sauce giggles in its bubbly pot.

Stealthily, I sneak up next to the animated stove
The hilts of the knives glinting me a mischievous smile,
And there it is!
The gem of Thanksgiving dinner
A seasoned turkey roasting to a crisp inside of the searing oven.

Thanksgiving is shortly upon me.
My kitchen is now alive with newfound sensations,
A reassurance to me and my family
Warmly filling my heart.
Affection.

 

©Nils-Henrik Fuertes

Image: Rockwell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


 

 

EUSTORY, an International History Competition for German and French Youth to Reflect on Peace

Students of a German School in San Diego learn how to write a movie script

About a month ago  German Pacific School San Diego and San Diego French American School collaborated in preparing for an international competition that invites them to reflect on the concept of peace before, during and after WW I.

EUSTORY, an international history competition wants to guide students to a greater understanding of historic events but also engage them in finding relations between today’s events and events in the past, and overall help them become productive citizens of the world.

Both schools decided on choosing film as a medium for their project, and to learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of scriptwriting they participated in an intercultural scriptwriting seminar. In the following read more about their experience:

German and French students collaborate on international competition

( by Lenni Elbe)
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An excited buzz fills the air as groups of French and German students discuss their ideas. They are preparing for an international history competition, called EUSTORY.

On October 14, students from San Diego French American School and German Pacific School San Diego partook in a seminar run by a professional scriptwriter, Diane Alpaio, to help prepare them for the competition in Spring.

The script writing workshop led students through a pre-written script in order to learn the basic elements of story writing. First, they watched and analyzed a short film. Then, they were split into small groups and wrote their own scenes using those basic elements such as dialogue, conflict, and characters.

The students left with a greater understanding of how movie scripts are written, and with plenty of ideas on how to continue their own EUSTORY project. “Working with the French students was great and I didn’t expect the seminar to be so much fun. It really got everyone excited about the competition” said Jack, a student at GPSSD.

The script writing seminar was just the start. Students will continue to meet on a regular basis throughout the script writing process. Instructors from both schools are guiding the students, including Mr. Baron (SDFAS), Ms. Brouder (SDFAS), and Ms. Elbe (GPSSD).

EUSTORY was started in order to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the events of World War 1, to work together, and to foster cross-cultural understanding. This year’s theme is: “Peace in War Time, Peace in World War 1.” This initiative is representative of the creative potential in students, and broadens young people’s perspectives, giving them the tools and skills required to become productive citizens of the world.

The short film will premiere this coming spring at an event at SDFAS.
For more information, please visit http://www.eustory.fr or http://www.gpssd.org

Images: German Pacific School San Diego – GPSSD


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Mondschein

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Mondschein

(Ein Gedicht von Dieter Kermas)

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Ach wie schön war doch die Feier,

heimwärts schwankt der volle Meier.

Und des Vollmonds helles Licht

scheint Herrn Meier ins Gesicht.

Doch zu Meiers großem Schreck

ist das Mondlicht plötzlich weg.

Um ihn ist es stockedunkel,

´ne Wolke schluckt das Sterngefunkel.

Da schleichen Schritte auf ihn zu.

Vorbei ist´s mit Herrn Meiers Ruh.

Panisch hetzt er durch die Nacht.

Ein Schlag trifft ihn mit aller Macht.

Nun sieht er wieder viele Sterne.

Doch dran ist schuld nur die Laterne,

die in dieser Nacht nicht brannte,

wo Meier flott dagegenrannte.

Sein Feierfreund kam kurz darauf

und fiel auch noch auf Meier drauf.

So liegen sie im Suff vereint,

wie schön, dass nun der Mond erscheint.

 

©Dieter Kermas

Image:  pixabay.com

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Dieter 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, has published his first novel “Kolja. Liebe im Feindesland” in 2016, available at Amazon . Some of his work has been included in anthologies.

To get in touch with Dieter Kermas, please send an email with subject line “Dieter Kermas” to: californiagermans@gmail.com
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Lantern Parades in California celebrating Saint Martin

On November 11, Germany traditionally celebrates Saint Martin’s Day. Originally a Catholic holiday to honor the kind Roman soldier, who shared his cloak with a beggar on a freezing winter night, Saint Martin’s Day quickly became a holiday loved by everyone for its festive lantern parades.
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Many German schools and German communities here in California carry on this beloved tradition and invite to their own version of a lantern parade.
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In the following, please find a collection of lantern parades happening in Southern and Northen California.

GPSSD – German Pacific School of San Diego

Sunday, November 5th  
Time: 3:30pm – 6:00pm 
Where: Mission Bay Park, Crown Point North,  3700 Corona Oriente Rd San Diego, CA 92109
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Join GPSSD for a Lantern Fest with BBQ and bonfire at Crowne Point Park in Pacific Beach (North Parking Lot). Mission Bay Park
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The younger kids are invited to go on a traditional lantern walk (5:30pm!!) and sing lantern songs (Laternenlieder).
The older students and everyone, who doesn’t want to go on the walk can just hang out at the fire or at the beach.
The GPSSD Lanternfest has traditionally been a fun and special event and a great opportunity to meet new families. Bring your beach chairs and a dish to share for our half-potluck.
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Contact: germanpacificschool@gmail.com, ph: (858) 461-9118


GermanSchoolCampus – Old World Huntington Beach

Saturday, November 18th  
Time: 4:00 – 7:30pm 
Where: Old World Huntington Beach, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647
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German School campus and Old World Huntington Beach invite to a festive Lantern Parade around the little village of Old World to celebrate the story of Saint Martin.

Registration is from 4 pm – 5:30 pm during which hot chocolate, coffee and cake and also “Weckmännchen”, a traditional pastry, will be available for purchase.  A short performance, telling the story of Saint Martin, will be followed by the lantern parade starting at 6:15 pm. (Lanterns available for purchase)

This is a festive family event. Stay on after for the lantern contest results and to celebrate the season with Old World’s goulash soup and hot cider.

Contact: GermanSchool campus at (949)285-0829


German American School Association ( GASA)

Saturday, Nov. 18 
Time: 5pm – 7pm
Where: Christus Kirche (First German Methodist Church), 556 W Glenoaks Blvd, Glendale, CA 91202
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GASA Lanternfest: GASA teachers and students of GASA Kinderland in Glendale and of the Northridge School will participate in the annual lantern parade at the Christus Kirche (First German United Methodist Church) in Glendale.
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Contact: GASA , Ph: (562) 693-0223

Thursday, Nov. 9th
Time: 6 pm – 8 pm
Where: 475 Pope Street, Menlo Park, California 94025
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Join Alto School for a traditional German St. Martin’s lantern parade, sing-a-long and a shadow theatre performance about the legend of St. Martin. Don’t forget to bring your lantern. The event is organized by the Alto preschool and elementary school.
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Contact: Alto International, Ph: (650) 324-8617

Laternenfest at Bay Area Kinderstube in Albany
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Saturday, November 11  
Time: 4:00 – 7:00pm 
Where:  842 Key Route Boulevard, Albany, CA 94706
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Join us and celebrate the annual German tradition of St. Martin’s Day with Bay Area Kinderstube.

We welcome the season with St. Martin’s Day songs and play, performed by our preschoolers, followed by a magical lantern-procession around the neighborhood – open for everyone to join. Enjoy German staples like Bratwurst, baked goods, mulled wine and much more in a festive atmosphere.

For more information, to purchase admission and food tickets, and to bid on fantastic items online, visit www.kinderstube.org/laternenfest
 
Contact: BAKS Kinderstube, Ph: 510-525-3105

German International School Silicon Valley (GISSV) 

Sunday, Nov 12
Time: 2-6pm
Where: 4 + 5 Funston Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94129
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The Laternenfest at SF Campus of GISSV started celebrating the wonderful tradition of the lantern parades with the public 3 years ago with their own version and called it Laternenfest. It is an event that our students and community look forward to every year! Friends and the larger Bay Area community are invited to join in the merriment!
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Our event on Sunday, Nov 12  will again offer Lantern making, kids games, face painting and a few special performances by GISSV SF students. And look out for the German food truck and bake sale! It all end ends with an enchanting lantern-lit walk through the Presidio.
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Contact: GISSV SF, Ph: (650) 254-0748

 


German Language School of Marin 

Saturday, Nov 11th
Time: 5:30pm
Where:  2 Locations: Santa Rosa & Novato (see below)
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Laternenfest in Novato and Santa Rosa! Lantern Festival, Music Parade, and Refreshments! For the lantern parade, we’ll meet at the locations below to light our lanterns (with flameless candles) before beginning our parade. Afterwards, we will have hot chocolate and Weckmänner (jumbo bread men) available if desired. The parade is FREE! Only $5 per person if you would like Weckmänner afterward. Everyone is welcome, so bring friends!

In Novato
We will meet on Saturday, November 11 at 5:30pm at Pioneer Park in Novato (map it). Help us plan! Please RSVP to Carolyn Bopp or let us know during school on Saturday if you would like to join us and would like Weckmänner.

In Santa Rosa
We will meet on Saturday, November 11 at 5:30pm at our school campus in Santa Rosa (map it). Please RSVP to Christine Campbell by email or let us know during school on Saturday if you would like to join us and would like Weckmänner.


German American School Palo Alto (GASPA)

Saturday, November 11th  
Time: 5:30 – 8:00pm 
Where: Alto International School Campus (475 Pope Str. Menlo Park)

(Please RSVP)

Join GASPA for its annual St. Martin’s Laternenumzug at the Campus of Alto International School in Menlo Park. The event will start with a shadow play about the legend of St. Martin as well as introduce the traditional lantern songs. Following the play, everyone is invited to join for a walk through the neighborhood with their lit lanterns while singing songs. The parade will end with a final song together in a candlelight circle.

There will be refreshments, which include Martinsmännchen, Frankfurter Sausages, Pretzels, and Hot Cider will be available for sale before and after the parade.

Contact: GASPA, Ph: (650) 520-2346


Tivoli Rainbow Preschool in Los Angeles

Wednesday, November 15th
Lantern parade – More Information to follow. Please contact the school. Ph: (310)301.9147
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Credits: Lantern Image created by Pia Elbe

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