We wish you all a happy and enjoyable Happy Easter !
… and just so that you know who is coming by tomorrow to sweeten up your day, we found a classic by Gerhard Polt for you. Enjoy!
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!
Should you be short on some German Easter chocolate egg options, these are some you may still have shipped to you perhaps on time…
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 🙂
JELLY RINGS FROM BAD ISCHL – The No-Eggs Xmas Cookie
In our Christmas Cookie Baking Series, we share today one of Dieter Kermas’ favorite ‘Weihnachtsplätzchen’ that he has baked for years! It’s a straightforward recipe that doesn’t need any eggs.
The cookies make for a beautiful looking and deliciously tasting Christmas treat. In fact, this cookie and some with slight variations (different jams & jellies) belong to the traditional staple of Christmas cookies in Germany and shouldn’t miss on any Christmas cookie platter. A variation of this cookie is called ‘Spitzbuben’, a cookie that looks similar but sometimes incorporates an egg in its cookie batter.
100g almond flour
185g powdered sugar
2 packets of vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
some flour to roll out the dough
75g raspberry jelly
Step #1 – For the dough, mix the flour with the almond flour and the 125g powdered sugar.
Step #2 – Make a well in the middle. Add the Vanilla sugar and the pinch of salt to it.
Step #3 – Spread the butter in little flakes around it. Quickly prepare to a smooth batter. Cover and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Step #4 – On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough about 3mm thick. Cut out round cookies with a diameter of 6cm. Turn half of the cookie batch into circles by cutting out a hole of about 2cm in the middle.
Step #5 – Put all on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes at 392 Fahrenheit.
Step #6 – Once baked, remove the circles with the holes from the baking sheet and dip them still warm in a mixture of powdered sugar and the rest of the vanilla sugar.
Step #7 – Cover the full round cookies with the raspberry jelly and place the powder sugared circles on top of it.
Tastes delicious with a hot cup of coffee, hot chocolate or spiced tea!
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 email@example.com
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
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!
As expats we often miss that our children won’t be able to grow up with their grandparents. Not only does it make us feel at ease to have someone experienced to help raise our children but it’s absolutely precious to have someone look after them, who will also pass on some German traditions and values we ourselves most likely grew up with. Not to forget the nice benefit of having our kids be exposed to speaking German whilst they grow up far away from Germany.
Following the principles of an au pair service the German company Granny Aupair in Hamburg has been filling that ‘Granny void’ since 2010!
Have a German “Leih-Oma” Stay With You!
If you can’t have your own Oma stay with you, have a ‘Leih-Oma’ share in your family’s life overseas. That way your kids don’t have to miss out completely on the enriching grandparent experience. There is so much to learn from an older generation and Granny Aupairs come ready to share their generational wisdom while nurturing your children.
Granny Aupairs are active, adventure loving women aged 50 and above from all over the world but mainly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They offer a wealth of life experience and most often have raised families of their own. Child care, cooking and keeping a household in check is nothing new to them. They are experts in it!
An Enriching Cultural Experience For The Entire Family
“Since 2010 more than a thousand ‘Grannies’ have travelled to over 50 countries” with Granny Aupair, which was founded by Michaela Hansen (55) in Hamburg. Over the course of their stay many Grannies have become friends with the children and parents alike and have knit close bonds. Susanne, a mother in the USA mentions: “We had such a great experience that we had several Grannies over the last few years, and two of them have come back for a second stay. The children are really happy when a Granny comes again. We also had a “Granny Reunion” in Frankfurt in July this year with our family, my mother, and four grannies. It was wonderful to see all of them together!“
Many women, who choose to become a Granny Aupair are looking for a new challenge after they have retired or their own children have ‘left the nest’. They still feel adventurous, enjoy traveling and are in search for something
meaningful to pursue. Granny Aupair Brigitte Köfler from Bregenz, who cared for a family of six in Los Altos felt very enriched by her Granny experience and puts it this way: “I got to know so many wonderful people during my stay…The family I stayed with was absolutely fantastic and they made me feel like a true part of them. The fun with the children and to feel so warmly appreciated was very fulfilling.“
According to an article in the British Telegraph and a 2014 annual survey by Nannytax there is in fact a trend that many families prefer hiring older, more life experienced women to look after their offspring. Granny Aupair offers just that on an international level.
I Am Ready For My Granny Aupair. How Does It Work?
Families and single parents all over the globe can now easily find their Granny Aupair. To get more detailed information and browse the database of Grannies, who are ready to be part of your family, you just simply have to register free of charge at www.granny- aupair.com . Once you have found a Granny you feel fits your family, you need to become a member to start a conversation…and you are on your way to an enriching adventure!
Granny Aupair – Jetzt oder Nie!www.granny-aupair.com
Credits: Images by ©IlonaGehrke ©GrannyAupair
Today is Halloween! A holiday unknown to Germans or at least not being celebrated in Germany until the 1990s. But this has changed!
Today it’s “Süsses oder Saures!” all over Germany – the phrase we know here in California as “Trick or Treat!”
In 2009 the holiday Halloween helped to drive sales up to almost 30 million Euros in Germany and in 2011 it’s believed to have generated sales already of 200 million Euros! Quite some increase, but still not comparable to the USA.
October 31 has actually been an important protestant church holiday in Germany, “Reformations-Tag”, remembering Martin Luther; but this day of contemplation and reflection, even thought still on the church calendar, had to make way for the ‘funner’ Halloween celebrations.
A specialized section within the toy industry, “”Fachgruppe Karneval im Deutschen Verband der Spielwarenindustrie (DVSI)” claims to have brought the tradition to Germany way back then in the 90’s. Since then it’s become an economic factor. What a clever act if you think that the official start for Carnival or “Fasching” is just around the corner, November 11, at 11:11 a.m.!
It seems that celebrating Halloween in Germany has moved that date to October 31 and that “Narrenzeit” is starting today! Should I say, “Helau”…!?
Last Minute Osterbrot & Co. –
Easter Sweet Bread: http://mybestgermanrecipes.com/easter-sweet-bread-wreath/
Easter Traditions – http://californiagermans.com/2012/04/08/happy-easter-2/
When I was a child, Easter used to be not only a religious holiday but also the holiday that rang in springtime, finally. After all that cold weather and snow, the time around Easter reminded us that winter was not here to stay for good after all. Looking out into our garden I felt happiness and excitement seeing all the different little color spots of flowers stubbornly pushing their way through a tough soil that was still hard from a long winter time. Yellow and purple ‘Krokus’ (crocus), together with ‘Schneegloeckchen’ (snowdrop flower) and yellow ‘Narcissen’ (Daffodils), that even carried so rightfully the other name “Osterglocke” (Easterbell). Among the sparse young fresh grass peeking out here and there, these delightful little color dots were a refreshing sight, and offered the perfect back drop for a fun Easter egg hunt early on Easter Sunday morning.
Leading up to Easter it is tradition in Germany to create your own variety of Easter eggs and decorate a bunch of ‘Palmkaetzchen’ branches (branches of pussy willow) with these as ornaments. After an early morning egg hunt, Easter Sunday often started out with a church visit where, especially in Southern Germany, a sampler of the foods , later enjoyed during the Easter Sunday breakfast, got blessed by the priest during mass. In the evening the family gathered for the “Osterbraten” , which at my home traditionally was the roast of a lamb shank with delicious deserts to follow.
A beloved specialty during Easter is by the way the Easter bread, called ‘Osterstriezel’ or ‘Osterfladen’ – depending on where one lives, in the north or south of Germany. Should you like to try baking one, here is a recipe:
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