Tag Archives: Germany

Springtime and Easter – Time for Memories

One more week, and we will celebrate Easter!

Growing up, I remember Easter and my birthday (since it is in March) being the most welcome indicators for spring’s arrival.

We often celebrated my birthday in Italy and while Munich at that time was often still covered in snow and sported temperatures near zero degrees Celsius, I could see that winter was in retreat as soon as we had crossed the Brenner and we were leaving the alps behind us descending into the valley of the Veneto region. Our final destination was Verona, where much warmer temperatures and sun welcomed us.

How I loved this trip every year! I think I came back home to Munich another person knowing that springtime will soon have a triumphant return here as well.

All I Need For Easter is….

Easter egg hunting was always fun, but eating all these delicious chocolates was the best! I have to admit, I do miss those since living here in California; even though Easter egg hunting itself has become much more exciting. We as parents can actually go wild playing Easter bunny now in the garden or a park finding the perfect hiding places in nature versus the living room… California weather is just perfect, isn’t it?

While I do send urgent requests to Germany each year to ship me my favorite Easter egg candies like liquid filled ‘Dragee Eier’  or Lindt & Sprüngli Cognac & Eierlikör eggs – hmm! – one can actually find some familiar Easter chocolate egg choices at places like Worldmarket or even at Amazon!

                                

My Favorites!!

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Should you be short on some German Easter chocolate egg options, these are some you may still have shipped to you perhaps on time…

Remember these…?

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I realize for some of these goodies, it might be too late, but hey, I don’t discriminate… I’ll eat Eierlikör chocolate eggs year-round 🙂

Featured Image: pixabay.com



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Enjoying Ski Week Without The Snow

Ski Week and Being Just Fine with Seeing Snow Only on Pictures

In some Southern California school districts, the short week of vacation called “Ski Week” is coming to an end. While I remember families flocking towards Mammoth Mountain or at least nearby Big Bear Mountain or Mountain High to catch some snow, this year I witnessed youth rather flying to Europe or the East Coast.

We didn’t do either. We stayed put and just enjoyed a nice, peaceful but rather chilly week with typical, delightful California sunshine. You think that’s boring? Well, I grew up with four seasons and while much can be beautiful in each one of them, there can also be endless rain in spring and fall and many dark, dark days in winter.

Snow – I don’t mind not having it, and while I used to seek it when my kids were younger for the sake of them learning how to ski, I now am just happy to witness snow falling via social media in other places, like Germany; far away, while I enjoy walking along the seashore in beautiful sunshine.

In fact, Germany just got reminded of the fact that it’s still winter and fluffy white snowflakes started covering cities especially Munich with layers and layers of snow. Perfectly right on time for our “Ski Week” here in California, ironically. So, I had my share of snow via Instagram, Facebook and What’s Up. My phone eagerly beeped all week-long announcing new pictures that were sent from family and friends overseas, covering for me the news of new snowmen popping up all over Munich.

I won’t deny it, seeing pictures of snowmen against a crystal blue sky made me somewhat envious,… but juuust for a short moment. True, these gorgeous, crisp winter days in Germany are really precious. The sun and the bright snow make for a very special light and being on top of a ski slope on a day like that, with a view of the alps around you, that’s heaven I remember.

Just as I am getting melancholy, however, I am reminding myself of the downside of snow in the city. I remember those days of shoveling mounds of snow off my car in freezing temperatures trying to get my children to their Kindergarten class on time. The challenges of driving in freshly fallen snow as well as driving on streets covered with slushy dirty snow are just as much a vivid memory as the dramatic balancing act of maneuvering the car over icy roads.

Oh, and did I forget mentioning parallel parking into parking spots battling with the snow for who is faster in filling the void space that I initially thought was an empty parking space?

California works just fine for me. If I am really desperate for snow and freezing temperatures in wintertime, snow – fake or real – is just a few hours away in the car. I can enjoy the white sparkling splendor for a few hours and then drive home to spend the evening at the beach if I like. It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch, yes, but it is possible!

Images: ©CaliforniaGermans


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3 Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve German Style – It’s ‘Silvester’!

Three Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve German Style 

1 – FIREWORKS 

What 4th of July is for the American that’s New Year’s Eve or ‘Silvester’ for the German – at least, measured by the number of fireworks that go into the air that night. And that means fireworks galore! Every family is sure to sport some kind of firework and many have fireworks that would be called illegal in California, like skyrockets. (illegal fireworks in California include all that “…go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner”) In Germany, they are allowed. Unfortunately every year the press reports incidents of severe accidents because of them. 

2 – BLEIGIESSEN / Lead Pouring

This is a most favorite custom that lets the Germans play fortune teller on New Year’s Eve. Originally, small chunks of lead are melted in a spoon over the flame of a candle. As soon as the lead is liquid you pour the molten lead into a bowl of cold water where the lead will take on various shapes. These ’frozen” shapes will be interpreted to tell a person’s fate for the upcoming new year. As you can imagine this makes for a great topic of conversation.  One can buy lead pouring kits for this particular custom but many families use also wax instead of lead since it is safer.

3 – “DINNER FOR ONE” –

Now, this is a very special tradition for Germans. A tradition that literally doesn’t sound German at all! But it’s one, that is not to be missed and in fact, it is all over the TV channels all night long. We are talking about “Dinner for One” which is actually a comedy sketch in English! Yet, Germans can’t get enough of this 18-minute sketch and love watching it during every new year’s eve celebration. We have it posted for you right below:

“Same procedure as every year!”

We wish everyone a Happy New Year! –

Wir wünschen einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!


Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day. How did you behave all year?

Today is Saint Nicholas Day (Sankt Nikolaus). How did you behave all year? He will know!

Perhaps you were good and could start out your day already with a full boot full of treats. Or you are still waiting until tonight when Saint Nicholas himself comes by and pays you a visit.

Many German families celebrate this beloved tradition the way that they have their children put out a boot overnight from the 5th to the 6th of December so that Saint Nicholas could fill it with oranges, nuts, chocolates, and even small toys. This would, of course, happen only if the child had behaved well all year. Surprisingly, they always had!

In some families, like mine, Saint Nicholas would actually come by in the evening of the 6th of December. Every year it was a big affair. We had friends with their children over to await the honored guest. O my, was I nervous as a young child!

Around 6 pm we would hear little bells and heavy footsteps crunching through the snow towards our patio door looking out onto the black pitch garden. And there he suddenly was! Standing in front of our patio glass door knocking with his white-gloved hand. Saint Nicholas!

All of us kids would huddle together, while my dad would open the door and beckon the honored guest in. Every year we were awed just the same!

Saint Nicholas and his Golden Book of Truth

Saint Nicholas entered our living room. Dressed in a bishop’s robe with a red cape and a Mitra he had a heavy burlap sacket over one shoulder and a huge golden book clasped underneath his other arm that was also holding a golden staff.  After we all had greeted him he took a quick glance at the half circle of children asking one of us to come forward to hold his precious crozier. We were all excitedly terrified and intimidated at what to expect next.

He sighed and slowly leafed through his golden book when suddenly stopping at one page, he announced a name and looked at us children with questioning eyes. The one, who had been named, timidly stepped forward and Saint Nicholas looked at him or her with a friendly look and exclaimed in a deep voice: “Now, let’s see what my little angels have written about you over the past year.”

He started reading out of his big golden book all, that he or she had achieved over the year, and what the parents were so proud of. Saint Nicholas would approve with little nods here and there or even utter some words of admiration.

With gleaming faces, we listened to his every word wishing just that the end would not be too embarrassing since everyone else was listening. We were aware that most likely, not everything had been perfect over the year and knew that Saint Nicholas would close by mentioning something we could thrive for and do better in the following year.

Every child had finally been addressed and received a little burlap sacket filled with treats, that Saint Nicholas retrieved from his big one. But this wasn’t the end. No!

Now it was time for entertainment! The parents would ask Saint Nicholas to take a seat and enjoy a glass of red wine while he would listen to our, the children’s presentations. Relieved, we children moved to this more relaxed part and recited our poems, played holiday music on our flutes and the piano.

After a short social time with Saint Nicholas, we finally accompanied him back out to the garden where he vanished into the dark, leaving us with the noise of the crunching footsteps in the snow and the jingling of bells in the air.

Exhilarated we ran back inside the house to indulge in unpacking our presents at last.

 

Image: Title image ©CaliforniaGermans , Pixabay.com


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