Wow, where did November go? I can't believe how fast this month went by and how much closer I am to not only be done with my last semester at West Chester, but also how much closer I am to being home for the holidays.
We had the first snow on Thursday not only in Philadelphia, but also in Münster, where my family lives. If you ask me, it is way too early for this. What it isn't too early for though is to think about the upcoming Adventszeit. That's right - this Sunday is the first advent! For the advent time (the four Sundays before Christmas eve) Germans put out an Adventskranz with four candles. Every Sunday you light one candle, until at the fourth Sunday all candles are lit. Originally this is a Christian tradition, but there are many families who do this for, well decoration, not for the religious reasons. Whatever the reason, it is a nice tradition. My crafty brother actually just started making a modern wood version of this with the help of his wife, who takes care of the decoration. They are selling them with different decorations on their website. Here is what one of them looks like.
I personally love candles and I don't think that there should be any reason to put this away right after Christmas. It just becomes part of your own winter wonderland in your living room. Gemütlichkeit is the keyword here!
One tradition that I love more than anything is the Advenskalender. Who doesn't like to open a little present every day? And I have been pretty spoiled when it comes to this, as our Adventskalender are always hand-filled with nothing but our favorite candy or little treats. Noticed how I said are, instead of were? That's because my mom still makes me one every year. I am spoiled!
There are so many different Adventskalender in all shapes and forms and it can be a lot of fun for crafty people to make their own. The Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) has a great idea for a decorative Adventskalender, all together with a description on how to make it. Click here to view the video (German). Or how about this one, shown in the picture below?
This Adventskalender from vital-genuss.de is also easy to make, cute to look at and made from environmentally friendly products. Just click on the picture to get to their website and the instructions (German).
I hope that this might inspire someone to get crafty and make their own Adventskalender, rather than buying the, may I say, boring one that is already filled with the same chocolate everyday. I'd love to post a picture of the snowman Adventskalender that I made years back, but unfortunately it's still in Germany as it was too heavy and big to take with me when I moved. But maybe if I can find any time within the next couple days, I will make this one from vital-genuss. I will just need someone to come and fill it for me...
typischer deutscher Weihnachtsmarkt
With the holidays right around the corner, it is a nice time to learn more about some German traditions. The pre-Christmas time is easily my favorite holiday time in Germany. Trees are decorated with little white lights (very few families use colored lights), the smell of Mohnkuchen, Lebkuchen, Glühwein and Kinderpunsch is in the air and friends and families are getting together from all over the country - or in my case - from all over the world. It's the one time in the long winter months that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside even though it is usually cold and dark outside.
One of the best German traditions is the German Weihnachtsmarkt. Depending on the size of the town the Weihnachtsmarkt might last from a single weekend up to a whole month. There are many little wooden houses that are put up and decorated with evergreen tree branches, white lights and Christmas ornaments. They sell food, handmade items, Christmas decoration, hot drinks and much more. It always makes for a great night to go for a stroll with some friends, eat something, enjoy some hot chocolate or hot wine and look for some items to decorate your house with.
Unfortunately, not all of us can go to Germany to take part in this wonderful event, but there are some similar events, right here in PA. There is the Bethlehem Christkindlmarkt every Thursday through Sunday from November 26th to December 19th. Another Weihnachtsmarkt is right in front of City hall in Philadelphia. The Christmas Village in Philadelphia opens its doors from November 25th until December 24th. While certainly not as great as the original, the events are worth checking out. Enjoy some German treats and get into the spirit!
Midterm elections were held yesterday in the USA. The Democrats lost many seats to the Republicans. They lost their majority in the house of congress, but held on to the senate. Die Tagesschau is featuring an article about the outcome of this vote today. Read it here, in German, to get an outsider's opinion on the election.
There are so many different stereotypes about Germans that are true, partly true or complete humbug. It is hard to stereotype over 80 million people, because not everyone of them is punctual, tall, blond, efficient or enjoys a good bit of Schadenfreude. Another problem with stereotyping is that two Germans from two different regions will have stereotypes for each other, much like you find them in the U.S. On "Die deutsche Welle" I found a little category in which Germans are separated by region to show you what a real Münsterländer or Bayer is like. This, while also not true for everyone, is much more accurate than most of what you will find in a textbook.