From the Land of Sand, Sun, and Burittos to das Land auf Wald, Schnee und Bratwurst.....

Monday, December 13, 2004

Frohe Weihnachten

From the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market), to the Gluehwein, to the unbearable cold, Christmas cheer is alive in the air here in Germany. Christmas has been a whole new experience for me this year in the old world. It is a very happy time of year here that is evident from the masses of people that gather every night around the Christmas trees and glowing angels that decorate every city center. Christmas tradition dose not have any bias from towns big or small here, each has its own unique twist on this traditionally festive time of year.

Santa Claus, or the Weihnachtsman as he is called here, is not as major of a player here in this month of December. He in fact is only present due to heavy American influence on the German culture of today. As many of us Americans know, but not all, Santa Claus is was a creation of the American corporate world during the first part of the twentieth century, mainly from marketing campaigns by Coca-cola. The old world tradition that is practiced here in Germany is the arrival of small presents (normally candy and fruit) from Saint Nicolous, that are left in children’s boots that lie on their doorsteps on December 6th. These gifts come to the nice children, but the naughty children receive, comparatively so to disobedient American children receiving coal, a bundle of sticks. I just have one question to ponder over this phenomenon, why do wayward children in both countries receive things they can burn to keep warm?

Apart from this difference in the cultures the most different striking and welcoming tradition I have experienced here is the presence of the above mentioned Weihnachtsmarkt. These markets traditionally were the way for merchants to provide Christmas time related goods and services to consumers in the local towns pedestrian zone. It still serves this exact function, but with modern times has evolved into a way for the citizens to interact over a few glasses of Gluehwein.

The Germans put their steins of beer down for a short part of the year to drink this fruity spice flavored hot mulled wine. The people here love this concoction but to me its sweet but dry flavor tastes like a headache to me. I cant wait to get home and have a cup of my mothers eggnog and a few of my grandmas almond tarts!

Viel Gruss von ein kaltes Land!

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