JANUARY 10th IN GERMAN HISTORY

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January 10, 1573

Birth of Simon Marius (1573-1624) in Gunzenhausen, Germany. Marius was the astronomer who named the four largest moons of Jupiter. He was one of the first astronomers to use a telescope, the first to report the spiral nebula in Andromeda and one of the first to note sunspots.

 

January 10, 1785

Death of Heinrich Wilhelm Stiegel in Charming Forge, PA (born near Cologne, Germany). Stiegel immigrated to Philadelphia in 1750. There he built an ironworks and soon expanded to a second ironworks in Lancaster. At the boycott of British imports he expanded his manufacture of window glass and bottles at a company he founded called the American Flint Glassworks. He was highly successful and became known for his mansions, servants and high life style. As economic conditions deteriorated with the approach of the war with England, however, his fortunes declined. By 1774 he was in debtors prison.

January 10, 1797      Annette-Droste-H

Birth of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848) in Hülshoff, Germany. She was one of the leading writers of the 19th century. She is most noted for her poetry, Gedichte (1838) and Das geistliche Jahr (1851). Her novella, Das Judenbuch (1842) is also highly respected.

January 10, 1847

Birth of Jacob Schiff in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Schff immigrated to the United States in 1865 where he would become one of America’s leading railroad bankers. He was the head of the investment bank, Kuhn, Loeb and Company. His financial backing led to Edward Harriman taking control of the Union Pacific Railroad. He later backed Harriman in his struggle with James J. Hill and J. P. Morgan for control of the Northern Pacific Railroad. In his later years he became a philanthropist and was a major donor to Harvard and Cornell universities and to the American Red Cross.

January 10, 1866

aschoff

Birth of Karl Aschoff (1866-1942) in Berlin. Aschoff was a pathologist who had studied at the University of Bonn and taught at the University of Freiburg. He discovered phagocytes (cells which ingest foreign substances) and Aschoff’s bodies (nodules in the heart related to the rheumatic process).

January 10, 1880

Birth of Grock (stage name of Charles Wettach) in Reconvilier, Switzerland. Grock was a circus clown and later a stage comedian of great popularity. His autobiography, Die Memoiren des Königs der Clowns, was published in 1956.

January 10, 1890

Death of Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger in Munich, Germany. Döllinger was a Roman Catholic priest, a professor of canon law and a church historian in Munich. When the First Vatican Council of 1869-1870 defined the infallibility of the pope Döllinger could not accept the doctrine. He joined the Altkatholiken who broke with the Vatican after the council. His writing on the subject of papal infallibility was listed on the Roman Catholic Index of Forbidden Books and he was excommunicated in 1871.

January 10, 1920

The Versailles Treaty takes force.

January 10, 1949

Erich-Dagobert-von-Drygalski

 

Death of Erich Dagobert von Drygalski in Königsberg, Germany (now in Russia). A geographer and glaciologist, Drygalski led an expedition to the Antarctic from 1901-1903 and published the results of the findings in Deutsche Südpolar-Expedition 1901-1903. The 20 volume work appeared between 1905 and 1931. Drygalski was a professor at the University of Munich.

 

 

 

 

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CHRISTMAS DAY IN GERMANY

Christmas Day is a public holiday in Germany on December 25. Many people spend the day with their family. Large meals with traditional foods are served and Christmas decorations are displayed. German Christmas decorations include nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids, and cribs.

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What Do People Do?

People generally spend Christmas Day with family members or close friends. Some attend church services and many sing traditional Christmas carols. A large meal is traditionally eaten in the afternoon or early evening. Typical dishes include:

  • Roast goose or duck stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions or prunes.
  • Red cabbage with onions and apple.
  • Boiled potatoes.
  • Dumplings.

People also eat turkey, beef, venison or wild boar in some parts of Germany.

 

Public Life

Christmas Day is a public holiday in Germany. Post offices, banks, stores and businesses are closed. However, stores in some tourist areas may be open and stores at railway stations, airports and along highways are usually open.

There are some restrictions on selling alcohol, public performances and dancing. Public transport services may run as usual, at a reduced service or no service depending on where one lives or intends to travel.

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Symbols

Traditional Christmas decorations include:

  • Christmas trees.
  • Small candles or electric lights.
  • Wooden nutcrackers.
  • Incense burners in various shapes.
  • Cribs with figures representing Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds and the three wise men.
  • Gingerbread houses decorated with sweets.
  • Christmas pyramids (three-dimensional scenes that are turned by a fan driven by candle heat).

Schwibbogen (decorative arc-shaped candle holders) are displayed in the Ore Mountains in Saxony. Each candle holder is made of a single piece of wood or metal and holds more candles on top of an arc. The arc is filled with figures to create a scene. Some scenes represent aspects of the Christmas story, while others display local traditions or events.

Sweet snacks are popular at Christmas. Traditional treats include: Plätzchen (flat biscuits covered in sugar frosting); Lebkuchen (gingerbread); Pfeffernüsse (gingerbread covered in sugar frosting and small candies); Stollen (a rich bread filled with dried fruit and a marzipan roll); and Spekulatius (small cookies flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Delicious German Expressions to Give You Food for Thought

In Germany, the pig is pretty popular. A symbol for various things, to get lucky is to “have pig” (Schwein haben), but if your German skills are unter den Sau, “under the pig,” they’re not very good at all.

Hopefully, though, you won’t think your pig whistles (Ich glaube mein Schwein pfeift) because in that case you’ve just totally lost your mind. Now, on to the best of the Wurst.

1. er glaubt, er bekommt eine Extrawurst

Literally: He thinks he gets an extra sausage.

Does he think he’s special? Like he gets an extra sausage? We all know someone like this.

2. du armes Würstchen!

Literally: You poor little sausage.

You have a cold! Oh you poor little sausage. Let me make you some soup. (Careful, as this one is also frequently used condescendingly, which I have to say seems extraordinarily appropriate.)

3. die beleidigte Wurst spielen

Literally: Acting the insulted sausage

Pay no mind to Sally over there. She’s just acting the insulted sausage: pouting, because she didn’t get her way.

4. sich die Wurst vom Brot nehmen lassen

Literally: To let someone take the sausage off your bread.

Stand up for yourself! Don’t let anyone take the sausage off your bread. You’re too good to be taken advantage of like that.

5. das ist mir Wurst

Literally: That is sausage to me.

I don’t care about that at all. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a sausage.

6. sieht wie eine Presswurst aus

Literally: Looks like a stuffed sausage.

You might want to rethink the size of your clothing. You’re looking a bit like a stuffed sausage in that top. (Oh dear.)

7. es geht um die Wurst

Literally: It goes about the sausage.

Okay now, there are two minutes left in the game! It’s crunch time people! It’s all about the sausage!

8. Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

Literally: Everything has an end, only the sausage has two.

To end this sausage spree on an existential note: everything has an end—except for the sausage—only the sausage has two.

Okay. So sometimes (if you’re extra hungry, I guess) there are a few other food options in Germany besides the majestic Schweinefleisch. Alternative table-talk has predictably, like in English, flavored (haha, see what I did there?) all kinds of idiomatic expressions. Here are more food-related German expressions that aren’t about sausage.

9. um den heißen Brei herumreden

Literally: To talk around the hot soup/porridge.

He simply will not get to the point. He keeps talking around the hot porridge/ hot soup, or, as we say in English, beating around the bush. (“Beating around the bush” is a pretty strange English one, right?)

10. Jemandem Honig um den Mund schmieren

Literally: To smear honey around the mouth.

Before you ask Tim for that favor, make sure you give him lots of compliments—you know, smear honey around his mouth. (English equivalent: “to butter someone up.”)

11. Jemanden ausnehmen wie eine Weihnachtsgans

Literally: To gut someone like a Christmas goose.

If I get another passive aggressive email from Bob I swear I will tear him a new one. I will take him to the cleaners. I will gut him like a Christmas goose. (Whoa!)

12. Dreikäsehoch

Literally: Three-cheeses-high.

Little Clara is celebrating her fourth birthday today. She’s not but a wee little thing, barely three cheeses high! I don’t know what it is, but I just love this one. It literally refers to the height of three wheels of cheese stacked on top of each other.

This is also a great example of how German creates single words for a variety of fascinating concepts and situations; for more on that, check out this post!

13. Senf dazugeben

Literally: To add mustard.

Mary always offers her two cents on whatever we’re talking about—whether she’s asked for her opinion or not. She’s always adding her mustard to the conversation.

14. nicht mein Bier

Literally: Not my beer.

Someone’s spreading rumors? Well don’t look in my direction. That’s got nothing to do with me. That sort of thing is not my beer.

15. Tomaten auf den Augen

Literally: Tomatoes on the eyes.

Seriously! Are you blind!? Do you have tomatoes on your eyes!??

16. kleine Brötchen backen

Literally: Baking little rolls.

Our country is taking baby steps toward a brighter tomorrow. We’re baking little rolls.

17. Schokoladeseite zeigen

Literally: To show one’s chocolate side.

We want to present our best work to the client at the next meeting. We’ll show them our good side. Our chocolate side.

18. mit dem ist nicht gut Kirschen essen

Literally: Not good cherry eating.

Yeah…don’t bother inviting Tim tonight. He woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. With him is not good cherry eating. We might say in English that he’s not a man you want to mess with.

Now that I’ve got your stomach rumbling and the wheels in your brain turning, allow me wrap up this post with a couple of just plain wonderful German idioms that, I must admit, I use in translation in English from time to time—they’re just that good. (And yes, I sound pretty weird. I’m aware of that.)

19. Jemandem einen Korb geben

Literally: To give someone a basket.

When a boy is courting a girl (or, perhaps more realistically, he just asked her to join him for a Döner after they stumbled out of the techno club at 8 am) but she refuses his advances, she “gives him a basket.” The expression works thusly: “Did you hear what Dan said to Clara last night? Yeah, she wasn’t into it. She gave him a basket.”

Apparently, this wonderful idiom dates all the way back to the 14th century, when a lover hoping to get invited into a royal maiden’s chambers would literally have to be pulled up into her tower secretly in a basket. Should the noble maiden not really want the visitor to arrive, she might send down a very thin basket, or even a bottomless one—thus rendering the journey impossible. (This was before the age of simply not returning someone’s texts.)

Before properly researching this phrase I asked a German friend of mine what she thought it might mean. She replied, “ I dunno, maybe it’s like, ‘Yeah… I’d rather not, thanks, but…um…here’s a nice basket as a consolation prize?’ Everyone needs baskets.” I think I like that better.

20. du kannst mich mal!

Literally: You can me once!!

Okay, so technically this is more of an “elision” than an idiomatic expression. However, I enjoy the completely nonsensical English translation so much (You can me once!!) that I felt compelled to include it on this list. “You can me once” implies a few things—leaves a few words to the imagination—which I am not completely comfortable repeating here…but just imagine what you can do to someone who is most certainly upset with you. I’ll give you a hint: This is very similar to the English expression, “you can kiss my…” you get the point.

21. das Leben ist kein Ponyhof

Literally: Life is not a pony farm.

Ain’t that the truth! Life, my friends, is quite simply not a pony farm.

And, well, there you have it! Twenty-one German idioms for all sorts of situations to make you sound like a pro (if a slightly food-obsessed one).

Now go find a German language partner and practice! And while you’re at it, try explaining to them a few of the thousands of English idioms we take for granted every day. I suggest beginning with “to let the cat out of the bag,” “to be in a pickle” and “everything but the kitchen sink.”

Viel Spaß!

ooooOoooo

Source:  FluentU

 

Then and now: how Valentine’s Day has blossomed in Germany

Then and now: how Valentine's Day has blossomed in Germany

survey published last week showed that half of Germans will be giving their partner a present on Valentinstag. One in five of them will be spending over €50 on their gift.

The survey, conducted by market research company Statista, also found that a larger percentage of men in Germany – 58.2 percent – plan on giving a gift on the day of romance. Only 50.8 percent of female respondents could say the same.

The findings from the survey also indicate that if you have a man as a partner – particularly between the ages of 25 and 44 – you’re much more likely to receive a token of love on February 14th. The chances of this lessen greatly if your male partner is older than 55. And if your partner is an elderly woman, you’ll most likely end up with nothing.

But the day associated with boxes of chocolate and red roses hasn’t always been a thing in Deutschland.

It was only in the 1950s after the Second World War that sending out lovey-dovey cards and giving gifts first appeared. British and American soldiers stationed in Germany at the time are believed to have brought along some of their traditions with them, including Valentinstag.

The first Valentine’s Ball is said to have taken place in Nuremberg in 1950. The tradition slowly caught on over the next few decades. Whereas in the 1970s many Germans still had no idea what Valentine’s Day was, nowadays it’s gained a foothold across the country.

This can especially be seen in Germany’s flower industry – which profits significantly from the annual holiday.

On Valentin’e Day in 2015, flower bouquets were about 7.7 percent more expensive than the annual average, Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) figures show.

That hasn’t put Germans off buying though. Last year flower bouquet sales in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day were more than twice as high (just under €60 million) as the average week, according to market research company GfK.

And as the Statista chart above shows, gifting a partner flowers and sweets far surpasses presents like perfume, jewellery or lingerie.

As to the origins of the tradition itself, one of the most popular theories dates back to a mysterious saint named St. Valentine who suffered a brutal fate.

Legend has it that St. Valentine – a Roman physician and priest – was martyred around 269 AD. After being beheaded for the crime of marrying Christian couples, he became the patron saint of love, marriages and young people.

His feast day of February 14th was established in 496 AD.

As time passed, more and more romantic connotations came to be associated with the saint. By the Middle Ages, the cult of courtly love is believed to have spread across Europe; the tradition has been observed in countries like the UK and France since the late 14th century.

Whatever its origins, for many Germans today, Valentine’s Day just isn’t a big deal. It has been criticized for being a day of commercialism and an ‘imported’ custom from other countries.

In the Berliner Morgenpost‘s list of 14 tips to make Valentine’s Day in 2018 a success, one suggestion is to ignore the holiday.

“You don’t have to like Valentine’s Day. Besides, everyone knows that joy can be brought to loved ones at any time – no matter what day it is,” the newspaper writes.

With DPA

 

The Best New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Germany

New Years Eve in Germany 2019 

New Year’s Eve in Germany is called Silvester. The last day of the year is the saint’s day of pope Silvester, who died 31 December 335. New Year’s Eve traditions often include old superstition, which has been passed on for centuries. But customs & what is considered typical Silvester food vary throughout the country.

 

Berlin

Germany’s capital city shows the rest of the continent how it’s really done! The biggest, the snazziest, and the most bombastic New Year’s Eve street party in Europe is held at the Brandenburg Gate starting December 30 and continuing till the morning of January 1. There are live performances, DJs, and stunning light and music shows, culminating in a breathtaking firework show as the New Year rolls in. Between the historic Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, over a million people witness this spectacle, most hanging around till the wee hours of the morning. Entry is free. In addition to this display, the entire city is bathed in light on Silvester, fireworks are set off from various points, and most clubs hold pulsating parties.

New Year’s Eve in Berlin

Frankfurt

On New Year’s Eve each year, the brisk business city of Frankfurt transforms into a magical land. If there is one activity in Frankfurt that beats standing on one of the bridges on the River Main and watching the sky exploding with fireworks that reflect off the river, it’s taking a river cruise and being right in the center of the brilliant play of light. Hundreds of thousands of people throng the banks of the river, the Old Opera House, and Romerberg Marketplace in search of the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy the fireworks.

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Cologne

There is a reason why hundreds of thousands of people brave the midnight chill and jostling crowds to be present in the streets of Cologne on New Year’s Eve: the sight of the majestic Cologne Cathedral silhouetted against the night sky bursting with fireworks is worth all the trouble in the world. Other great vantage points to enjoy one of the best fireworks shows in Germany are the banks of the River Rhine and the Rheinpark.

Fireworks at Cologne Cathedral

Dresden

Every New Year’s Eve, the gorgeous city of Dresden pulls off an extravaganza that is surely worth writing home about. The city hosts one of the grandest public parties in Germany in Theaterplatz Square, with live-music performances, dancing, delicious food, and – no prizes for guessing – a breathtaking fireworks show. An additional fireworks show is thoughtfully held earlier in the evening for the little ones. Book tickets early.

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Munich

The bustling city of Munich turns into one huge party on New Year’s Eve. Huge crowds gather at the historic Marienplatz, Olympic Park, English Garden, and Old Town Square to toast the New Year amid gorgeous fireworks. When in Munich, you don’t need to worry about finding the perfect vantage point, as the sky over the entire city lights up with spectacular fireworks at midnight. However, Tollwood New Year’s Eve Party is the hottest and the most happening place to be in the city. This sprawling party promises banging music, delicious food, and endless fun.

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Stuttgart

Stuttgart is known for its series of extravagant New Year’s Eve parties, but those who want to be in the heart of the action should head to Schlossplatz. This gorgeously illuminated square basks in festive cheer. Cute stalls sell yummy food and drinks under a sky that is ablaze with fireworks, and there is a beautifully lit ice-skating rink in the Schlossplatz.

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Hamburg

No matter how you like to spend your New Year’s Eve – watching brilliant fireworks, dancing the night away, gorging on a great midnight buffet, or on a cruise ship – the beautiful harbor city of Hamburg will have something for you. The illuminated cityscape provides a magical setting for the midnight extravaganza of fireworks that are set off over the river. Huge happy crowds welcome the New Year as the sky and the water are flooded with lights. The best way to see the fireworks is from a cruise boat, though the harbor promenade, Jungfernstieg, and Alster are all excellent vantage points, too.

Fireworks at Hamburg Port

 

 

Christmas Traditions Only Germans Will Understand

Christmas tree in Germany | © inextra15 / Pixabay

As in many other Christian countries, Christmas is the most special time of the year in Germany. Though the most important ingredients of Christmas across the world are the same – festive cheer, family time and delicious food – each country has its own special way of celebrating this magical festival. These Christmas traditions and rituals are quintessentially German.

St Nicholas Day (Sankt Nikolaus Tag)

St Nicholas Day is a favorite holiday with German children. On the night of December 5, children clean and polish their boots and leave them outside the door before going to sleep. Next morning, they find their shoes filled with nuts, candy, and small gifts from St Nicholas. He also makes an appearance in shopping malls and children’s clubs. Though Santa Claus has also become popular in Germany, St Nicholas is much more important than his American counterpart. St Nicholas Day is also observed in a few other Western Christian countries, though the mode of celebration varies from country to country.

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Krampus Night (Krampus Nacht)

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Krampus the devil is sort of a sidekick of St Nicholas. He is believed to accompany St Nicholas to teach naughty children a hard lesson. In Southern Bavaria, men in hideous Krampus costumes patrol the streets on St Nicholas Night, and are sometimes invited in by parents of particularly naughty children.

 

 

Advent calendar (Adventskalendar)

The Advent calendar is an important countdown to Christmas for German children. Everyday for four weeks preceding Christmas, a window in the advent calendar is opened to reveal a poem, parts of a story, candy or a small gift. Advent calendars flood shops across Germany during this season, while many parents prefer to make their own.

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Advent wreath (Adventskranz)

The tradition of Advent wreaths was started by German Lutherans in the 16th century, and today the wreath is still an icon of Christmas in Germany. The wreath consists of four candles in a bed of pine cones, berries, dried flowers and Christmas ornaments. Different families have different traditions when it comes to Adventskranz. Some will bring it out during the first week of December and burn one candle every Sunday in the lead up to Christmas. Others will display the advent wreath on the last Sunday before Christmas and have the entire family sit around it, munching on Christmas delicacies, singing Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies.

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Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte)

Granted, the magic of Christmas markets has spread to many other countries and continents, but the origins of Christmas markets can be traced back to the German-speaking part of Europe in the Middle Ages. A few thousand Christmas markets are held all over Germany each year. The next time your heart warms at the sight of twinkling lights adorning the adorable Christmas market in your part of the world, remember that you have the Germans to thank for it

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Mulled wine (Glühwein)

Christmas season in Germany is not complete without mugs of steaming hot Glühwein. This quintessential Christmas beverage is sold in ceramic mugs in all Christmas markets in Germany and is considered vital in beating the winter chill and spreading festive cheer.

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Feuerzangenbowle

The Feuerzangenbowle is an immensely potent German Christmas beverage that is as much a feast for the taste buds as for the eyes. Rum with a high alcohol level is added generously to mulled wine, and the concoction is set in flames. On that note, to spend a Christmas Eve like a German, watch the cult movie Die Feuerzangenbowle (1944), which traces the hilarious deeds of a middle-aged man under the influence of Feuerzangenbowle.

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Christmas angels (Weihnachtsengel)

Christmas angels are the most loved Christmas ornaments in Germany. They are put up on Christmas trees and all around the house at Christmas time. The Christmas angels are most commonly made of wood, and are often seen playing their musical instruments. Expect to see thousands of these in any Christmas market in Germany.

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Christmas stollen

Stollen is a traditional German Christmas cake, and it’s delicious! It is a cake made of flour, with fruits (chopped, candied, or dried), nuts, and spices added to it. Stollen is sprinkled with powdered sugar and sometimes zest is added to it. Natives of Dresden celebrate a huge festival centring on Christmas stollen.

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Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is another special German Christmas treat. This one resembles gingerbread. These baked delights contain honey, a number of spices, and nuts, and can be soft or hard, sweet, or spicy, and with or without icing. Though it is traditionally a Christmas delicacy, Lebkuchen is often sold in fairs, festivals and souvenir shops across Germany. Many of them have messages written on them.

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German Christmas traditions

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Christmas, or Weihnachten, is considered by Germans to be the most important of the major holidays. Although secularized and commercialized compared to Christmas celebrations of yore, the German holiday season is a time for introspection, celebration, and family and friends; it is less consumption-oriented than in the United States. Not only the holiday itself, but also the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas involve many traditions and customs of diverse origins.

Advent

The German Christmas season officially begins with the first Sunday of Advent. Stollen, the oldest known German Christmas treat, and Christmas cookies (Plätzchen) are often baked during this time. Gingerbread houses, nativity scenes, hand-carved wooden Nutcracker figures (Nussknacker), Christmas pyramids (Weihnachtspyramiden), and lighted city streets and homes are all signs that Christmas is on its way.

The Advent Wreath – Der Adventskranz

The Advent wreath (Adventskranz) is adorned with four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The first Advent wreath, which appeared in the mid-19th century, had 4 larger candles and 19 smaller ones. Each day one additional candle was lit to help the children count the days until Christmas. Today only the four larger candles remain. However, the tradition has been exported to many other countries around the world and was adapted to existing customs. The Advent wreath of the Eastern Orthodox Church uses 6 candles to last through its somewhat longer Advent season.

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The Advent wreath has been attributed religious and elemental significance. The tradition of a ring of light existed among the Germanic tribes many centuries before the celebration of Advent. It is believed that fewer candles were lit with each progressive lighting to represent the shortening of the days until the solstice, at which time theJulfest celebrated the return of light. (Incidentally, the English word yule is a cognate with the Germanic Jul).

Advent, Advent …ein Lichtlein brennt
erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier
dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.

 

The Advent Calendar – Der Adventskalender

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The Advent calendar (Adventskalender) is a German invention that was originally designed to involve children in the festivities leading up to Christmas. The calendars are usually made of cardboard and have 24 small windows or flaps, one of which is opened on each day leading up to Christmas. Behind each window is a Christmas scene or motif. Nowadays, calendars may contain chocolate or candy behind each window, and sometimes even small toys. The Advent calendar is a more recent invention of modern capitalism. Originally, families would mark the 24 days of December preceding Christmas with a chalk line on the wall. The first hand-crafted Advent calendars were produced in the mid-19th century; the first printed calendar appeared in Munich in 1903. Eventually the custom was exported all over the world.

Christmas markets – Weihnachtsmärkte

Christmas Fair at night, Nurnberg, Germany

When the Advent season opens, Christmas markets also crop up in nearly every German town, large or small. The town squares, normally dark early in winter months, are lit up and buzzing with activity during this time. Townspeople gather together, listen to brass band music, drink beer or hot mulled wine (Glühwein) or apple cider, and enjoy the hearty traditional fare of the region. Vendors peddle baked goods, including gingerbread hearts, sugar-roasted almonds, crepes, cookies, stollen, cotton candy and other sweets. Christmas tree decorations, seasonal items, and handcrafted articles, such as wooden toys and hand-blown glass ornaments, are also sold.

Christmas markets date back to at least the 14th century and were one of the many markets held throughout the year. It was here that people bought everything they needed for the Christmas celebration: baking moulds, decorations, candles, and toys for the children. In fact, until well into the 20th century, the Weihnachstmärkte were the only place for people to buy such seasonal items.

Markets differ from place to place; each has its own regional imprint. The market at Aachen, for instance, is known for its gingerbread men (Aachner Printen). The regions around the Erzgebirge mountain range are famous for their handmade wooden crafts. Augsburg has a life-sized Advent calendar and opens the holiday season with its famous “Angel Play.” At the Frankfurt Christmas Market, visitors will find Quetschenmännchen (little prune men) and Brenten (almond cookies).

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The most famous Christmas market is the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, which is known for its gold foil angels and locally produced gingerbread cakes. At least 375 years old, it is one of the oldest, and with over 200 vendors participating each year, it is also one of the largest Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany.

Santa Claus – Der Weihnachtsmann

Merry Old Santa Claus by Thomas Nast

The figure of Santa Claus, known in Germany as der Weihnachtsmann (literally, “the Christmas man”), is a direct descendant of Saint Nicholas, as can easily be seen from the derivation of the name “Santa Claus”. The English appellation came directly from the Dutch variant “Sinterklaas”. Centuries-old Northern European tradition also knew a similar figure – a bearded old man in a long, brown, hooded fur coat who traveled on a reindeer-drawn sled. Carrying a staff and nuts, respectively symbolizing fertility and non-perishable, substantial nourishment, this figure from Lapland represented preparation for the long winter season ahead. This figure likely in turn descends from the god Thor or another deity from Germanic mythology.

Many of the characteristics attributed to the modern-day Santa Claus are easily recognizable in both the St. Nicholas figure and the personality descended from old Germanic folklore. The Weihnachtsmann, much like Santa Claus, is depicted as a jolly old man with a long white beard in a red fur suit, with a sack of presents and a switch. On Christmas Eve he leaves gifts for the well-behaved children and punishes those who have been bad. He doesn’t arrive through the chimney, but rather slips in and out just long enough to leave the gifts, usually before children can catch a glimpse of him. Depending on the German-speaking region, today it is either the Weihnachtsmann or the Christkind (Christ child) who leaves gifts for the children to open on December 24th in Germany.

Children’s verse: 
Lieber guter Weihnachtsmann,
sieh mich nicht so böse an.
Stecke deine Rute ein,
will auch immer artig sein.

The Christmas tree – Der Tannenbaum

The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to erect their tree during the Advent season. Traditionally, the Germans used the fir tree, but nowadays the spruce is widely used. Decorations may include tinsel, glass balls or straw ornaments and sweets. A star or an angel tops the Tannenbaum, and beneath the tree, a nativity scene might be set up and the presents next to it. Germans also usually continue to use real lit candles instead of electric lights on the tree.

The first known Christmas tree was set up in 1419 in Freiburg by the town bakers, who decorated the tree with fruits, nuts, and baked goods, which the children were allowed to remove and eat on New Year’s Day. The town guilds and associations first brought evergreens inside their guild houses and decorated them with apples and sweets. Candles were eventually added to the decorations. Already since the Middle Ages, ordinary Germans had been bringing yew, juniper, mistletoe, holly, evergreen boughs – any plant that maintained its green color through the lifeless and dreary winter months – into their homes. Even in areas where forests were sparse, the tradition took hold; people in Northern Germany, for instance, used Christmas pyramids (Weihnachtspyramiden) in lieu of Christmas trees. The pyramid form was created using sticks that were then decorated with fir branches. By 1800, the custom of bringing a tree into the home was firmly established in many German-speaking regions and continued to spread throughout Europe, and eventually, around the world. The custom was brought to North America by German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 18th century.

The Tannenbaum is taken down on New Year’s Day or on January 6th, Three King’s Day, at which time the children can ransack the tree for the sweets and treats that decorated it.

 

Christmas Eve – Heiliger Abend (also Heiligabend)

December 24th begins as a regular workday. But by 2:00 pm, often even earlier, businesses close in preparation for the holiday celebration, a large part of which occurs on Christmas Eve in Germany. The traditional evening meal includes carp and potato salad. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of Christ’s birth aloud. Family members exchange gifts; children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. The tradition of opening gifts on Heiliger Abend (rather than on December 6th in honor of St. Nicholas) was started by Martin Luther in the 16th century in favor of a celebration that honored Christ rather than a Catholic saint.

On Christmas Eve, German families – whether Protestant or Catholic and even those who are not regular church-goers – often attend mass or a church service. While the mass traditionally takes place at midnight, in recent times the services have moved into the earlier evening hours.

Christmas Day(s) – der erste und zweite Weihnachtstag

Both December 25 and 26 are legal holidays in Germany and are known as the First and Second Christmas Day respectively. What originally started out as a church celebration of Christ’s birth has gradually become a family celebration. Businesses are closed, and time is spent visiting with extended family. Goose is the traditional fare on the First Christmas Day, or perhaps rabbit or a roast. These are accompanied by traditional German fare such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage, and potato dumplings. The second Christmas day is usually a quieter time, a day for peaceful contemplation.

Halloween in Germany

How is Halloween celebrated in Germany? All you need to know about the origin of the tradition, typical costumes and the best Halloween events in Germany.

Halloween pumpkin

“Süß oder saueres!” is what you might hear children trick-or-treating in Germany say when they knock on your door.

Halloween has been celebrated in Germany for just 25 years, and the “trick” aspect of Halloween traditions makes many Germans angry, according toSpiegel Online, as well as the overlap with St. Martin’s Day, a holiday that follows under two weeks after Halloween on November 11.  On St. Martin’s Day children walk around the neighborhood with lanterns, singing songs and reciting poems in exchange for treats.

Though many Germans are unhappy with Halloween’s growing popularity in Germany, retailers rejoice: Costumes go on sale in department stores and Halloween-themed candy shows up on supermarket shelves.  While in America Halloween costumes can depict just about anything – from princesses and dragons to movie characters, doctors, and vampires – in Germany costumes should be scary.  If you want to buy a pre-fab costume that is not horror-themed, check out the costume stores around Fasching (or Karneval, or Fastnacht) in February, Germany’s biggest costumed celebration.

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Origin of Halloween in Germany

Dieter Tschorn, a public relations consultant for the German Toy and Novelty Retailers Association, has named himself the father of German Halloween.  When the German government canceled Fasching celebrations in 1991 due to the Golf War, Tschorn says he introduced Halloween to Germany to make up for lost sales among costumers and other retailers.  “The industry was forced to find a way of making up the losses. Halloween was chosen,” he told Spiegel Online.

Whether Halloween’s growing popularity in Germany is due to Americanization or Tschorn’s marketing work, the number of Halloween-themed parties and events give the impression that it is here to stay.

Halloween parties and pumpkins

If you live in a big city, there may be neighborhoods or apartment buildings that organize informal trick-or-treating. By and large in Germany, Halloween is a holiday celebrated by adults at themed costume parties and clubs.

Early German Halloween Hats

Pumpkin Festivals are also a popular way to celebrate both the arrival of Fall and Halloween with the whole family. Finding carving pumpkins in Germany should be no problem: they are a part of many favorite seasonal meals, and you will find them in supermarkets and at farmers’ markets in abundance.

Halloween events in Germany

The oldest and most revered Halloween event in Germany takes place at Burg Frankenstein near Darmstadt.  Though whether or not the castle was actually the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, it is the perfect location for an appropriately chilling Halloween event.  Visitors are free to wander the ruins, while actors dressed as ghouls, ghosts, and other gruesome ceatures; flickering lights; and an uncanny soundtrack make the castle ruins feel like a truly haunted house.

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There are more notable Halloween events that happen annually in Germany.  The Movie Park Horror Fest has been, as of 2018, going on for 20 years.  Located north of Essen, this event has plenty of zombies, monsters, and mazes.  Finally, the Mayen Market “Festival of Magic” in the Eifel region includes a parade, pumpkin carving, costumes, and beer.  Recently even LEGOLAND began a Halloween event, and costumed children receive free park admission on October 31st.

Halloween and Reformation Day

October 31st is also the date of another German holiday, Reformationstag.  Reformation Day is a celebration of the reformation of the church, particularly for Lutherans, and is a public holiday in the German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survey: Majority of Germans want to abolish clock changes

Survey: Majority of Germans want to abolish clock changes

The clocks will go back one hour this weekend. But a new survey has found more than 80 percent of Germans are in favour of abolishing Daylight Saving Time (DST).

According to the survey carried out on behalf of the DAK health insurance company, 80 percent of respondents believe that turning the clocks back and forward is unnecessary and should be shelved.

More than every fourth person reports health problems during the changeover to winter time, the survey found.

This year the clocks are put back one hour during the night from Saturday to Sunday (October 27th to 28th), at 3am to be exact.

Technically daylight saving means an extra hour of light in the evening, while standard time means there is less darkness in the morning. The clocks ‘spring forward’ an hour in March and ‘fall back’ an hour in October, every year.

Some people argue that the time changes help save on energy costs as well as letting people enjoy the light more, but others say they would benefit from time remaining the same all year round.

 

In an online survey conducted by the EU Commission in August, 84 percent of respondents were in favour of abolishing the changing clocks and most people voted for permanent summer time.

As a consequence of the results, the EU Commission has proposed to end the time changes in Europe in 2019, and to leave it up to the member states to decide whether they want to have winter or summer time permanently.

“Many people suffer from the constant change,” said DAK board member Andreas Storm. According to the results of the DAK survey, 79 percent of those affected feel tired or flabby due to the clock changes.

More than half stated that they had problems falling asleep or lying awake in between, while poor concentration and irritability were also reported by respondents.

Every eleventh person even said that they experience a depressive mood.

A total of 3521 people from across Germany took part in the questionnaire conducted by Forsa for DAK from September 27th to October 13th.

Storm added that at the European level, the situation regarding time changes must be clarified before the European elections in May.

History of the clock change

Germany became the first country to implement Daylight Saving Time in 1916 during World War I.

On April 30th, clocks in the German Empire were set forward by one hour to start the world’s first DST period. However, the enthusiasm was short lived. Germany stopped doing it in 1919, and it wasn’t until 1980 that the practice started again.

Now most countries in Europe take part in the clock changes, as well as some around the world.

The time changeover in its current form was reintroduced in Germany in 1980 – with the aim of saving energy. Its success is controversial, with the European Commission reporting that energy savings are minimal.

The Physical Technical Federal Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig, which is responsible for the changeover in Germany, says getting rid of the clock change technically wouldn’t be a problem.

Any decision could be implemented by the PTB without considerable effort, it said after the EU-wide survey results were released earlier this year.