A very Bavarian Easter

A very Bavarian Easter

Let me share with you how Easter looks like in my little old town, which I particularly branded as very “Bavarian easter“.I grew up in a very different environment as people observed Holy week here.But then as an Expat I have learned to love this LOVELY tradition here in Germany.One thing, here I observed that it´s not a religious event, mogre like a feast. It´s also a big celebration, just like Christmas sans the snow and it´s mostly enjoyed within families. The best part is that we can finally sit outside and enjoy some warm weather. This week, we had spring T-shirt weather,we have 10-21 degrees! On the other hand , sadly, just like last year though, we are still in Lockdown. Travelling is not actually required because of Corona restrictions, but finally it´s Spring.

Anyway, here, three weeks before Easter, shops are already full of Easter things, that includes colorful easter egg chocolates and Easter Bunnies. The designs are limitless, everything is colorful. When it comes to chocolates, Germany has it all.Top chocolate makers like Kinder, Lindt, Milka and Cadbury are always the top choices for children. When it comes to Easter Bunny chocolate, the bigger, the better.I am not so fond of this but I have a kid so we get some for her as well.
Egg hunting is an old tradition for German speaking countries (same as in the Netherlands) where painted colorful eggs are hidden in the bushes or in between plants, or almost in every nook for children ( and adults!) to seek and find.Easter decorations adorn each houses with painted eggs hanging around, baskets with colored eggs and early spring flowers.


Actually , there´s nothing much special in it compared to other countries when it comes to celebrating Easter, but then there´s something about our blue and white themed Egg Art work here in Bavaria.
Does it look familiar?

It resembled closely to Dutch´s Delft paintwork, using only two shades, blue and white .It´s a local heritage here where creative ladies handpainted all these eggs all year round.Imagine the time they consume blowing and drying all these eggs then afterwards painting.These two colors are the prime Bavarian colors which is also seen in Bavarian state Flag.

Handpainted blue and white Easter Eggs adorned the Fountain in the city
Every egg is unique and painted with different designs.What makes it more laborious is that it needs to be hanged together in a steel rod to join them together.Each piece is a masterpiece and the ladies put on so much effort in binding all of them.I´ve heard that it can count up to 10,000 pieces of eggs as of 2019.Those are indeed lots of eggs.

The eggs are binded with green garlands and decorated with little flowers so it can be hanged in the fountain.It´s another long time tradition here to put up an Easter Fountain or Osterbrunnen.Normally we have Easter Market, where people can sit and enjoy the festivities and listen to folk Bavarian music.There are small craft shops, Beergardens, play areas,face paintings, games and programmes, but then now everything was cancelled because of Corona virus.

A very Bavarian Easter celebration

Then there´s the osternbaum, or the tree with painted eggs.Handpainted or plastic eggs are hanged on foliage, trees and bushes are an example of this old tradition.It´s not only in Christmas where Germans decorate their trees, it happens that it´s quite the same in Easter as well. I , myself did this as well in our garden.My daughter brought home some Easter creative art projects, which she eventually displays at home.

Why do I love our Bavarian Easter, probably because it´s unique, cozy, Gemütlich and festive; and anyway, who doesn´t love chocolates?

Do you celebrate Easter?

Happy Easter, or in German we say it best with ” Frohe Ostern!”

tschüss.

Creative DIY : A Plantlover´s Adventkranz

My very first DIY Plantlover themed Adventkranz

Well finally, after 5 looonggg years, I finally embraced another old German tradition—der Adventkranz, or simply the Christmas Wreaths! I never bother to have one of those because I thought it´s just a waste of money.This time, I have made one for us this year, with a twist on a Plantlover´s theme since I loved candles, and of course, Plants and everything about Green nature.If you´re not from Germany, you might wonder what is it. If you live here, I am sure you will not miss this one out!

Let me share with you something about this wonderful, cozy and beautiful, another Christmas-sy tradition that Germans love!

My first DIY Adventkranz, a Plantlovers Pallete theme. With a pot of Succulent in the middle and bronze balls to complete the setting!

First, let me tell you a little something about Adventkranz or Christmas Wreath. I thought that “Wreaths” are something very American and only for decorative purposes.I was mistaken because I read that even from old Egyptian myths and traditions, wreaths made of flowers are widely used in Egypt. Same thing with wreaths made of olives, pine, and palm leaves are also widely used in ancient Greece, especially after winning in Olympic games.In Architecture, laurel wreaths are also widely used as ornamental motif as well as in furniture and textiles. I realized now that most wooden furnitures have this ornament!

On the other side, when it comes to “Weihnachten” or Christmas here in Germany, Wreaths or Adventkranz holds a different meaning. A Pastor named Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) thought of something for the children and teenagers without parents in an institution called ” Rauhes Haus“. To educate and teach them to wait for Christmas, he decorated an old cartwheel with 19 small red candles and 4 large white candles.Everyday during Advent, they lighted the small candles and every Sunday , they lighted the big ones. As time goes by, he started to decorate the wheel with green Fir.Branches of Juniper, firs and mistletoes are said to be symbol of unbroken power of life. In Philippines, we have the same tradition of putting a blessed ” Palaspas” , ( in accordance with Palm Sunday) a branch of a palm tree decorated with flowers hanged on doors to “protect” the household from “harm”.

In the early 14th century, candles also holds a significant meanings. They symbolized for new and brighter times. The red candles also signifies the color of blood that Jesus Christ shed for humanity. Things got so modern, nowadays we even have LED candles that lights our houses all the year round without the fear of something get burned.Adventkranz are normally placed in a center table and during Adventzeit, they light the candle and enjoy quiet family times. So from Hamburg, this tradition goes to other parts of Germany and now, even to the world.

My DIY Creative Project : A Plantlover´s Palette Adventkranz

As soon as November approaches and nearing to Adventzeit, Germans have this tradition . I ignored it before but suddenly it caught my attention.Almost every shop that I visited have different design of Adventkranz.And yes, they can be very expensive and I thought that its quite a pity to light up the beautiful candles!

So I decided to made one for myself, another creative DIY Project i said to myself using some materials that I already have with me.Last Saturday I went to our local weekend market and I got a glimpse of natural elements and materials.I love visiting local markets because there are really nice finds there. Look at these Golden mistletoes! They are painted real mistletoes, it costs 5 Euros and the nature wreaths are ranging from 25 – 35 Euros! Yes, they can really be expensive. From shops, they can be more because of those shiny decorations.I thought I made a handmade Adventkranz for myself with recycled materials so I can save more money!

Take a look at this pink Eucalyptus leaves, they are very much in a trend nowadays!
Some of the materials that I have already on hand. An oldie but goodie gold platter, a plastic fir wreath that I´ve decorated yearly as a Door Wreath and a bunch of Green scentless candles.The candle holder I got from Depot.
The bunch of painted Mistletoes and red berries stems that I am going to used to adorn my vases and decor for my Adventkranz.

I experimented with different designs, using different decors and motifs.This one is with a heart-shaped Christmas balls and some Poinzsettia and rose with glitters. I thought it was nice, and looked very Christmassy!

I think it is a great idea to pair your Adventkranz with the motif you have with your Christmas tree or other decorations so it won´t overload your overall Christmas decorations. I don´t like too many decorations and colors especially if you have a small space. I find them messy so I try to minimized to tone down the shimmers and I stick to neutral colors.

Would you like some bright lights in your table Wreath?

Since I loved plants and I have many potted indoor plants, I thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate them in a simple plant-inspired Adventkranz like this photo below.Plants are great accent to anything! It looks even more raw, natural and simple.

White Christmas Adventkranz

With a simple large round candle, a gold owl deco piece, plus a cute succulent plant in one wooden tablet, then its all set. Isn´t it uncomplicated?

What do you think of this design?

Do it yourself Adventskranz or Christmas Wreath

All the deco pieces that I used are already something that I have so I didn´t buy new ones anymore. I love candles, especially the scented ones so that is also no problem. Even in summer I always light them, I just love the serene feeling I got when I see the burning lights

Minimalistic White Christmas Adventkranz

The Adventkranz symbolizes the anticipation for Christmas. With us here, once we lighted all the candles, it means that Christmas is on the door. It works well with children, it´s like a magic show, it is a great motivation to keep them looking forward to opening their Adventskalendars and yes, naturally, the gifts under the tree! Its like a countdown to Sylvester or New Year, only this time, maybe Christmas and New Year would be a little weird!

This year, Christmas markets are already cancelled and considering the part-Lockdown we are having, we are still not sure if we would be able to celebrate Christmas with families and friends because of social distancing rules.But then….we don´t lose hope.It will get better soon.

Germany´s Chocolate Santa

My Taste of a German Christmas

Christkindlmarkt in Germany

Winter Wonderland

How about you, do you something like Adventkranz?

Stay safe friends….Tchüss!

Mushroom Passion in Autumn

Passion in Autumn, Hunting for Mushrooms in Bavaria

Did you know that another Autumn highlights that many Germans loved to do in Autumn is Mushroom picking,hunting ( also known as Foraging)!

Autumn or Herbst is the perfect time to look for Mushrooms (in German it´s called Pilz).Mushroom is at its peak growth from September up to November, just before when it starts to frost, and the temperatures drop around 10 to 15 degrees. Mushrooms needs a combination of air, moist and light and the overnight air to become misty and moist.This season is the time of the year where you can see them in abundance! They just sprout everywhere! I haven´t really had this experience before, not until I lived here in Germany. I guess I just goes along with the fad. I know for sure that many Germans loved to enjoy themselves going into wilderness, soaking the Golden October, going for long walks and “Spaziergang” in Autumn, at the same time looking, ( some picks!) for Mushrooms!

I said to myself that I would try to look for mushrooms this year.Now I finally did it. Whenever I take a walk nowadays and do my routine running, I saw beautiful foliage , colorful nature, and it´s more like I am walking in a yellow arcades full of yellow, orange burnt brown leaves.The Foliage as well are bursting with colors of red and golden rust.

Crazy over Mushrooms!

Also, do you love to eat Mushroom?

Did you know that Germans love and adore Mushrooms? All year round, edible mushrooms are available in supermarkets.I´ve read that an average German eats at least 2.9kgs of Pilz ( Mushroom) per year more than any other countries in Europe! Come to think of it, last Sunday, I just devoured a giant Schnitzel with Champignonrahmsauce ( Mushroom sauce) and it was really delicious!

Sorry but I don´t know their names in particular order so I cannot educate you about their species. I just took notice of their size and key features. I noticed that in our area in Southern Germany, we don´t have much of the other varieties or the colorful ones. I guess they grow in other region. But then I found some interesting ones and I took a photo to make a journal of them, of course to share here in my Blog!

Mushroom Passion in Autumn season

I love to use fresh edible mushrooms when I cooked Pasta or as an an added ingredients in gravy sauces with meat. I love to sautee it together with vegetables because the flavour is really good and it is simply delicious.I never have tried eating a wild mushroom because I heard they can be poisonous.Rule of the thumb is that it´s better to really be careful handling them and leave it to experts. If you don´t know it, then it´s better to stay away from it.I found a very informative site about mushroom but it´s in German. I saw that some of the mushroom that I saw from my leisure walks are listed in this site, and it seems that 2021´s year´s Mushroom is the Grünling or Green compact Greenling.

I found the information stated in this site very useful since deaths caused by mushroom poisoning is really scary and tragic.

Autumn weather means more rain, moisture, and damp weather which paves way to their growth.Many days it is very foggy over here in Southern Bavaria so I think it adds more to the moist weather. I even see sometime a tiny mushroom in my indoor plants!They are like tiny creatures who pops up beneath the fallen leaves and trees.It is such a delight to see them in different sizes and shapes.

Generally speaking, colorful mushrooms are very toxic.They are nice and cute to look at but it´s better to take precautions handling them to avoid intoxication. Make sure not to touch them with your bare hands or for little children to play with.Never let your child pick it with bare hands if you are not really sure if its ok to touch.Remember that these Fungi are scary if its toxic.If you are in an area with lots of growing mushrooms and you wanna gather them, then it´s better to gather up some knowledge about what to do and what to get.

Autumn won´t be complete without Mushrooms
A Tiny mushroom buried in the bed of fallen leaves
This is literally a Mushroom Cloud!

Some are actually hard to spot since they are almost buried with the rest of the fallen leaves, but the cream, white caps are quite easy to see.

I really had a great time doing this and I´m sure I´ll be doing this every fall.I think this is also another reason to go out more into the woods and just enjoy the simple pleasures in life.Autumn is actually a beautiful season to reflect and meditate.

How about some more quiet readings ?

Blue and White Mushroom Towers in Kuwait

My Nature Walks in Autumn

Glacisbrücke in Autumn

Stay safe everyone. Wear your masks please! Tschüss!

Guten Appetit! White sausage for Breakfast?!

Typical Bavarian Breakfast
Weisswurst, sweet mustard and a freshly baked Pretzel!

Today, 3rd of October is a national holiday here in Germany. We are commemorating the “Tag der Deutschen Einheit”or the German Unification Day. The day of coming together of Germany as one country. The time when the Berlin wall fell and East and West Germany finally reunited to become one solid nation as it is now.No more cold war. No more divisions. As the whole world know, Germany had a share of tragedies, morbid war stories and dark past. But now everything is different. It is a new Germany and became a home for many migrants, foreigners, including me. But then this post is not about history, its all about Food! Food that Germans and Ausländer like me enjoy here everyday!

So I thought of writing something about this land that became my home for the last 3 years up to now. Germany is really more than Football, great cars, castles, and Autobahn. This beautiful country has lots of worthwhile places to see, things to do and great nature and yes—lots of delicious food that meets more than the eyes and appetite!

Do you want to know another special about Germany? What do Germans eat for breakfast?

What’s in their table for breakfast?

Pretzel with butter, sauerkraut and sausages!
Always a perfect combination.Mahlzeit!!!

Beer, cheese, sausages,musli and bread, lots of dark, seedy breads; these are the staples in every German table every day. I am also a certified convert now. I have been converted into this German, or rather Bavarian diet. Believe it or not, I think I eat more bread now than I eat rice!

A typical German breakfast includes different kinds of cold cuts ( ham, bacon, salami etc.), different slices of cheese–Emmentaler, Gouda, weiss Käse ,camembert,cheddar cheese, Obazda and sweet mustard. They also love sliced veggies like paprika, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Of course Germans never forget to eat bread ( Brot) or Brötchen in many different sizes plus freshly bakes Pretzels! There is no other taste that I love other than Bavarian Pretzels–they are really good.With bread, they love different kinds of marmelades, spread cheeses and butter. Some people love also to eat Musli and jogurt plus sliced fruits.All of these should come with a warm cup of Coffee or tea.
Do you love the German way of having breakfast?

But do you know that somewhere down south, people eat something “unusual” before they start their day?

Is that an orange juice? apple juice? or lemonade?!
What do you think of the Beer culture of Germany?

I am living now here in Bavaria ( or Southern Germany) for almost 3 lovely years now and one thing that really caught my eye is the traditional Bavarian “Weisswurst Frühstuck“or in English we can say it as “white sausage breakfast”.

This beloved Bavarian breakfast is composed of white sausage boiled in water, lots of sweet mustard (senf) , freshly baked Pretzel and yes– would not be complete without a Weissbier ( or wheat beer!). Some omit to drink beer but normally you can always find this breakfast meal in restaurants, bakeries and during Volksfest or festivals. During weekend markets, there is always a food stall that sells these combo and it’s pretty cozy to see them eating this way. Add the fact that people here are seen in Dirndls and Lederhosen almost as often as they enjoy sitting in Beer gardens!

Guten Appetit! Typical Bavarian, Typical German. Leckeres Frühstuck!

Every country has its own delicacy when it comes to breakfast and main dishes they eat everyday. Way back home, we opt for a warm breakfast. This means our love for everything with “rice” seemed to be a normal choice. Fried rice, with sunny side up eggs and hotdogs, sometimes with “Tuyo” (dried fish) ,a cup of Coffee and a slice of mango or bananas . In Holland, I’ve learned to eat bread with “Hagelslag”or chocolate sprinkles. I remember my days in Kuwait, we eat lots of Khubz (or Arabic bread) with almost everything , of course with milk, Chai and Gahwa coffee.

Ein leckeres Frühstuck! ( A deliscious breakfast!)

What do you usually eat for breakfast?

What is the native specialty in your place?

More of the Food culture in Germany in these Posts :

The land with a thousand Sausages

870 -Year Old Historic Sausage Kitchen in Germany

Goodbye Oktoberfest, Hello Lebkuchen!

Have you enjoyed this post?

 Make sure to hit the Follow button for more Expat stories and travel stories on this Blog. If you are an Expat Mama, you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

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Ruhetag Sonntag | Silent Sunday

Another beautiful morning with the sun just about to burst along the Danube River

There is something like “Ruhetag Sonntag” ( or Quiet Sunday) we have here in Germany. While in other parts of the world, Sunday is more like normal weekend day, it is not so here in Germany. It was quite a shock for me when I first came here because I’ve got used to having Sundays as a time where I can enjoy the shops and do shopping since it’s a normal rest day from work.

Ruhe Sonntag in Deutschland means “Ruhe”or rest, quiet, silent, and it is actually a law here. Don’t mess up with this tradition especially if you are in Southern Bavaria. You can’t even make too much noise like vacuuming because it will disturb your neighbor. One time, my husband mow the lawn and our neighbor raised their eyebrows and informed us that it’s better to do it on other days. If you plan to drill or play loud music, then you need to think twice again.

If you forgot to do your groceries then good luck to you.Don’t get me wrong, Germans loves to shop. But it really makes sense that they always do their groceries with their lovely wooden baskets on week-days. I find it really interesting to see their baskets in their bicycles filled with daily groceries. I spotted many old people visiting a shop buying a bottle of something, fruits or the recent “Angebot” of a local supermarket. On Sunday, supermarkets are closed and you can’t find anywhere to buy your chicken or fruits. It is very rare that shops are open on Sundays, only on few festivals and night fairs.

Train-spotting in Mittenwald on a Sunday Ruhetag

Every Sunday, everything is closed, that includes shops, mall, offices and almost everything. Only bakeries, restaurants, gas stations and of course, Beer gardens are open for business. Train stations are open so as the train operations so you can still take your train and go wherever you want to go.Bus service are also available during Sundays but they run on fewer schedules. Normally you need to wait almost an hour for the interval of the trips.

So what do Germans normally do on this day?

I live in Ingolstadt, a budding town here in Bavaria ( or Bayern) where people greets you with Servus instead of Hello. A place where people wear Dirndl and Lederhosen on almost every occasion, even on weddings! Bavarians are very traditional and Catholicism is seen into everyday life. And while the practice is based on faith, it’s also a law.

Article 139 of the German constitution states, “Sunday and holidays recognized by the state shall remain protected by law as days of rest from work and of spiritual improvement.”

I have been observing what’s going on here in my neighborhood during Sundays. Normally people sleep in during weekends so if you are an early riser like me, you can enjoy nature all by yourself. Many Germans ( or I dunno exactly where they came from!) loved doing some kind of sport during Sundays. They love to run, jog and walk no matter what the weather is. Sundays are also perfect for cycling especially if the weather is fine.

The silent beauty and calm waters of the Danube River

One of the frequent place to visit on a lazy Ruhetag Sonntag is this view of the river Donau ( Danube) from the Glacis Brücke ( or Glacis Bridge /Bruckenkopft). Here you can have a beautiful view of the foliage and colorful trees especially in Autumn. I often visited this bridge for a morning walk and here I discovered the beauty behind the mist.

A dewy Autumn morning on a silent Sunday in Germany

In the other places where I’ve lived, we lost our wallets for shopping, especially if there are so many Sales.Not so here in Germany. Sunday is a sacred day for the Germans. Germany and many of its European counterparts held a long resistance to Sunday shopping, despite that they have a good economy. I lived in Bavaria, a very conservative region, and most of the smaller Bavarian towns, Sunday is a time for reflection.

Take a seat, relax and enjoy the view.
The day belongs to those who wakes up early on Sundays!

People here also go to church on Sundays. But I notice that this practice of faith is not the same as in Philippines where there are really massive church goers. Same goes in Kuwait where Muslim people visits the mosque on Fridays, I tell you, the crowd going to pray in Mosques is big. Here, it’s also very quiet in the church, on many days, its empty. but I admit that they have beautiful churches. I find it quite funny that there are more people going to Oktoberfest or in Volksfest, or just sit in their favorite Beer garden on Sundays, rather than the number of people going to church .

Sunday is a day of rest, so everyone deserves to have a rest from work as well. Common people visits their Oma and Opa, having family lunches and taking a walk together. On Summer, you will noticed that most Spielplatz ( or playgrounds) are full of children with their parents having a morning play time together. Many mothers are having a playgroup meet up in parks and having a picnic. Staying indoors is really a second option only when the weather is not good.I have the feeling that after living here for almost three years, it is like a sin if you don’t go out. People here just love enjoying open places, fresh air and healthy options.

Black Swan

How do you spend your Sundays?

Do you also observe special traditions in your town?

Until next time, Get out, relax, spend time with your love ones. Drink beer and sit in the Beer garden if you like, after all…. it’s Silent Sunday!

Tschüss!

Only in Bavaria :Epiphanie ( Dreikönigsfest)

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Dreikönigsfest in Bavaria (Three Kings)

January 6 is a public holiday here in Bavaria, Germany. It’s the Epiphanie or the Dreikönigsfest. I grew up that we wait up until the Three Kings to finally say goodbye to the Holidays and hide all the holiday trimmings. A New Year has begun and it is the signal of the end of the Christmas season, meaning— time to tidy up and remove all Christmas decorations, as well as the Christmas trees.

But I am sure there are still many leftover chocolates and Christmas goodies, just like what we still  have right now.

three kings
Epiphany or Dreikönigsfest in Bavaria

Here in Bavaria, I have learned something new.

Ever since I arrived here, I noticed the inscriptions of chalk on top of the houses, especially on doors with these formula. I was really curious what these letters & numbers stands for. I thought for a while that they are just writings of the carpenter for measurements. I was totally wrong.

In the book of Matthew, the Magi, or Wise men (sometimes called Kings) learned of Jesus Christ’s birth, then traveled from the east following a star. In the modern times, we celebrate January 6 as the day the Magi arrived at the stable in Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ Child. The Kings are not named, they have come to be known as Melchior, from Persia, Balthezar, an Arab Scholar and Caspar, from India. They brought gifts for the child ; Frankincense (a perfume or incense), Myrrh (an anointing oil) and Gold.   The gifts were important… these were items that were not given to an ordinary man, these are gifts for a King.

2018-DKSPlakat

Also, as tradition, children dressed up as the three kings who visited Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. The kids knock on doors and offer to write a symbol of blessing over the top of people’s entry-way doors. In exchange, the “blesee” is expected to give a donation to the Sternsinger, an organization that does various charitable works around the world. This year’s target is “Together against Child Labor.”

Here is a great well-produced video about this campaign that you can see on YouTube here.

So, finally, I had answers to my questions. The formula is quite simple: the 20 and the 18 on either end signify the current year.  version is that it stands for the names of the 3 wise men, Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Epiphany is the time when traditional “C+M+B” house-blessing ceremonies are performed with an inscription on or above a door.

 

Inscriptions are either done by families or Sternsingers (Star Singers) as they carol around neighborhoods and raise money for charities. Star Singers are generally boys and girls in groups of four with three dressed as the Wise Men and one carrying a star.

Today, an ornate shrine, a Gold box, containing the bones of the Magi holds a place of honor in the Cologne Cathedral. Legend has it that St. Helena found them in Constantinople, and brought them home. (Maybe that’s why Germans feel so strongly about these Epiphany celebrations?) While the box isn’t very big, it is quite amazing to see.

Do you also celebrate Three Kings Day?

What are the local traditions?

If you wanna know more about what’s special about Three Kings, you can read the other article here.

 

 

 

The sweet thing called Chocolate Santa Claus

IMG_4699 (1)
Chocolate Santa Claus in Germany

There’s no stopping time, five more days to go and its finally Christmas!!!

Aside from turning into a festive paradise because of the glittering and uniquely German Christmas markets, the appearance of the lovable Chocolate Santa Claus all over  Germany is something that makes  Christmas season here so so special. For me, this is absolutely new so I find it really fascinating. The first time I saw chocolate Santa Claus was last year and I think I have eaten chocolates here in Germany more than I have eaten in my entire life!

choccolate santa claus
Nikolaustag in Germany is December 6.

In fact, as early as October, most shops  are loaded already with this sweet confectionery figure to anticipate the Sankt Nikolaus ( or Nikolaustag ) almost the same festive celebration in the Netherlands for the Sinterklaas. Add the exciting Advenskalendar which also comes with sweet threats along with it, this time of the year in Germany is all about the good kind of sweets!Ask any kid here and they all know Nikolaustag and the joy that comes with it.  Every kid’s boots or shoe needed to be stuffed with this little  sweet man dressed up in red robe among with other threats such as fruits and toys on Dec.6. Yes, Chocolate Santa Claus is simply a Chocolate, but in alluring figure of Santa Claus.One of the top-selling chocolate brands here in Germany like Lindt, shared their intricate process of how they are making this seasonal chocolate figure and how it stands out from the rest. I was surprised to find out that in Germany alone, they sell approx.  26 million pieces! Globally, they produce about 37 million Chocolate Santas annually. This includes the 10-ounce mini Santa Claus and a one-pound showpiece . Amazing, right!?

To make things extra special this year, I saw that one local shop here named Penny, even sells a limited edition of  gay chocolate men, in tribute to LGBT ( Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual and Transgender) solidarity movement. Indeed, there’s a sweet chocolate for every gender!

Nikolaustag
Chocolate Santa Claus and Nikolaustag

Christmas without  snow here in Germany is possible but  Christmas without Santa Claus, is simply unimaginable.It’s a global thing! Turning the symbol of Santa Claus into a sweet piece of lovable figure then its a brilliant idea that becomes a unique tradition.

If you asked me, I love chocolates. All the time. How about you?

From my childhood favorites Toblerone and M&M’s, I think chocolates are also a great gift for any given occasion. I love receiving chocolates, its such a warm token to give to someone special.In Philippines,we never had this type of chocolate in a form of Santa Claus so for me, this is something new. As a child, it is a delight  for me to eat an imported chocolate, especially the ones Swiss- made or from the States. The bonbons from Holland are also very good.The quality and taste is really something because of the Kakao content. My grandfather used to grind Kakao, and make it into Kakao balls with coconut and it’s simply delicious.We had real kakao hot drinks not the ones came from a bottle from supermarket. Nowadays, chocolate is not limited to Valentines Day.Everyday, you can buy it from stores whenever you want. It is loved by everyone, regardless of age. Here in Germany, I noticed that Germans love chocolates and are obviously chocoholics. If you see the amount of chocolates  sold in shops, then you know exactly what I mean.

I found this interesting graph showing the World standing of countries when it comes to Chocolate consumption.This really give me an idea about chocolate madness.

20150722_Chocolate_Fo

Yes, in Germany, Beer is considered as a Lebensmittel  (or a staple food like Bread ) and not an alcoholic drink because of the Beer Purity Law. But I was surprised to know that Germany is  also a nation of chocoholics with annual consumption per capita amounting to 17.4 lbs. To quote an article from The Economist that said Germans spend nine billion Euros every year on chocolate, about the same amount that the Supporting Syria Conference in London in early February tried to raise for humanitarian support.

Come to think of it,  Germans roughly spends 31 cents per day or about 2.16 Euros per week or 9 Euros a month on chocolates. But of course, this is something petty compared to the consumption of beer.

The chocolate consumption in Germany is high compared to other nations. With twelve kilograms of chocolate in any form (bars, candy, drinking chocolate etc.), Germany has the highest per-capita consumption in Europe, closely followed by the Switzerland with eleven kilograms. When I broke down the 9-billion figure, however, it really did not amount to that much. Divided by 80 million people, and averaging the price of a 100-gram chocolate bar at 1 euro, that is 112 bars per year. About two bars per week – frankly, most people I know in Germany easily eat that amount, I, myself included.My neighbor always showered my daughter with Kinder eggs and other sweet goodies.Though they love chocolates, the number of Obese person here is less compared to the ones I saw back then in Kuwait.

The chocolate tradition in Germany is very rich. From Santa Claus figures to the amusing Rabbit or Osterhase during Easter says it all.The late 1800s was the golden age of Chocolate production and consumption throughout Europe. Many cities and towns had competing chocolate shops with wonderful window displays filled with intricate, molded solid chocolate figures to entice hungry passersby. By this time, they had perfected the art of molding chocolate by using metal molds. When I am visiting different towns here, I found out that there is always a chocolate confectionery shop that stands in the middle of the main square or in the heart of the town.

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The sweet thing called Chocolate Santa Claus

Germans have the right and work hard to earn the prestige of making good quality choclates. The Anton Reiche Company began manufacturing the chocolate molds in Dresden, Germany during the 1870’s. They even designed and produced very large “show case” molds upwards of 3 feet tall for chocolate shop windows. Unfortunately, metal chocolate mold production in Europe all but ceased during WWII and was eventually replaced by plastic molds which became the material of choice by the 1960s. The “Chocolate Santa” was inspired by this tradition and it is really a perfect calorie-free gift for someone with a sweet tooth.

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Chocolate Santa Claus

If you receive a Chocolate Santa Claus, I am sure it will make your day bright. The same thing goes with giving it away to someone dear to you.

 

 

Do you love chocolate Santa Claus? Have you ever tried it?

What are the unique Christmas threats you love?

Thank you for stopping by and enjoying this post.If you have some thoughts, please feel free to share it in the comments.Cheers for the coming holidays!

 

Tschüss!

Celebrating Christmas, the German way!

Ever wonder what makes Christmas or Weihnachten in Germany different from the rest of the world? Every country has its own traditions, but have you ever wondered how Germans celebrate Christmas?

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Life in Germany : Skating in ice while waiting for Advent and Christmas !

There’s no stopping time now, few more weeks and November is over and here comes the end of 2017. And yes, Christmas is really just around the corner. Snow came early to Germany and winter-feel is definitely in the air. As the fire in the sky continue to pull the days closer to the merriest time of the year, also the darkest time, Christmas  or Weihnachten is heavily anticipated not only here in Germany, but also in the rest of the world. If you are planning to have a white Christmas or visiting Germany in the summer, you can now have the chance to learn about the unique and surprising  German Christmas traditions in the Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town, also here in Bavaria.

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Local sightings in Christkindlmarkt : Beautiful hand crafted Christmas figurines

It’s almost a decade now that I don’t celebrate Christmas in my home country, the Philippines. Time really flies,and it feels even surreal. I totally missed the way we do it as a family, just like in the old times. It’s quite the norm from where I grew up that once the calendar months ends in-ber, say from September, it signals the start of Christmas frenzy!We start to hear Christmas songs played in the radio, the shops are flooded already with Christmas decorations, and yes, office Christmas parties are planned. The raffles, the never- ending exchange gifts, and yes—the most awaited Christmas bonus! I will never forget the evening mass and “Noche Buena“, the Kris Kringle madness, the jaw-dropping Christmas foods, and the crazy traffic during Christmas shopping! Everything is just so festive!

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Only in Germany : Angel or what??? This is the Christkind , the star of German Christmas markets

For the past years, I have seen so many differences in the way that other culture celebrate the most colorful time of the year, and for Catholics, it’s probably the most festive. When I was still living in Kuwait, although it’s a Muslim country, the spirit of Christmas can still be felt, unfortunately only in the confines of private accommodation and flat. At work, we were also granted with a holiday from work during Christmas Day. I even attended the midnight mass once. I noticed that more and more shopping malls have their Christmas decor and it is being talked about. The large number of expats in the Middle East is the reason, why  even miles away from home, you can still celebrate Christmas with friends and families. I had my first German Christmas last year here in Bavaria , with full anticipation (since I am very curious). I found many interesting German Christmas traditions that is worthy to document here in my Blog as part of my Expat life.

If you want to know how Germans celebrate Christmas the German way, then you might find this post helpful. So keep on reading and stay with me.

Here I wanna share with you  the surprising German traditions for Christmas that I personally love!

Christmas in Germany is beautiful, unique, homey and very warm!  

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Adventzeit : Light it up…!

The Advent Wreath or Der Adventskranz

The moment I saw these wreaths and candles, I know that Christmas is near. Back in my home country, I see these decorated wreaths as purely decorational, of course, minus the lighted candles.They are used to adorn the doors, and add to the already overwhelming Christmas decorations together with all the garlands in the walls, stairs etc. Not so here in Germany, because  Advent  time is important for Germans.

The German Christmas season officially starts at the first Sunday of Advent, roughly 3rd of December. The Advent wreath (or 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. Many Germans love to decorate their Adventskranz up to their own taste but there are also so many different designs of ready-made ones sold in almost every shop.

Adventskalendar —the sweet way of Christmas countdown.

During Advent season, you will never miss the sight of tons of Adventskalendar , (literally a Calendar with small boxes) almost overwhelming  in many designs, colors, and yes, all with yummy goodness chocolates or sweet goodies. This is one of the obvious signs that Christmas is coming. This is a delight for children and the child at heart. In the Adventskalendar, there are 24 “windows” that reveal a picture, poem or even part of a story – often the story of the Nativity – each day through December right up to Christmas Eve when the secret behind the largest window is revealed. Seeing Germans do  panic-buying of Adventskalendars especially when they are on Sale is a typical sight as early as 2nd week of November! This is totally German thing!

Weichnachtsplätzchen or German Christmas Cookies 

You know it’s the Advent season here in Germany when your nose is filled with heavenly delicious German Christmas cookies. Germans are very into home- made baking. They really appreciate if  you made the plätzchen  yourself and not  store-brought. They are great bakers of cookies and other treats.There are lots of baked treats that will surely keep your mouth-watering. My favorites are vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies) Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), Linzer cookies and Spekulaas as well.Germans love to use lots of almonds, hazelnuts, butter flavored marzipan and cinnamon in baking. Believe me, German cookies  are too beautiful and heavily decorated to eat!

Weihnachtsmann Schokolade or Chocolate Santa Claus

Its only here in Germany that Chocolate Santa Claus  ( or Weihnachtsmann) floods the shelf of all supermarkets here in Germany. Prior to Christmas, St. Nikolaus is celebrated on the 5th of December and so most Germans get this yummy figures in many sizes. If you have a child, I am sure you will get this one as well.

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Christmas in Germany

Christmas Tree or  Der Tannenbaum

With over 400 years in history, the Tannenbaum or the Christmas Tree is the real thing in Germany! The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to put up their tree during the Advent season. Please don’t tell anyone, but we already put up our Christmas Tree! Maybe my neighbors are shaking their heads when they see our lighted tree from our windows! I also see my neighbors starts to decorate their windows and garden with white lights. Who doesn’t? For us, Weihnachtsfreude  (Christmas Joy) comes early! In Philippines, this is also the norm.

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German Christmas markets

I grew up in adoration of Christmas Tree. Traditionally, I think it’s not complete when we don’t have a tree. Recently, on my research of German inventions, I found out that Christmas trees or Tannenbaum, actually originates here in Germany. I saw the biggest tree that I have ever seen in my  life, to top it all— a  REAL Evergreen Conifer , decorated with glass baubles, covered in real snow. Although there are lots of varieties for the plastic ones, most Germans still opt to put up the traditional real tree. During Christmas season, almost all town put up a giant tree in the city center adjacent to the place of Christmas market.Decorated with beautiful, handmade balls, and usually adorned with white lights.Compared to the Philippines, here I noticed that they only use white lights instead of colorful, blinking Christmas lights. And NO— they don’t decorate their whole house with lights!It’s also fascinating to know that it was German immigrants who brought the Christmas tree to America.

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Christmas Baubles, authentic German Christmas ornaments

In Germany, Christmas balls are not just an ordinary tree ornament. Where most of the  modern Christmas ornaments and plastic balls  nowadays are made in China, USA or Mexico, the origin of these “baubles” or Glaskugeln came from Germany. The old town of Lauscha in German Thuringia is said to be the place of the handmade, glass-blown Christmas bauble.

Below is the photo of  the family Weschenfelder work on Christmas balls in their combined living room and work space in the small village of Lauscha.

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Image Source   

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These are some of the pretty Baubles I saw in the Christmas market

Christmas Markets  or Christkindlmarkt

In Germany, despite the freezing temperatures, almost all towns are converted into one colorful, festive, unique Christmas wonderland during few weeks before Christmas day. Our local Christkindlmarkt  is open since November 23 up to Dec. 23.  Every place has its own attraction and each one has their own special features that draws attraction to everyone. If you want to have a glimpse of what is Christmas market all about, check this and it will bring you to a winter wonderland!

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O Tannenbaum!

Today there are over 2,500 Christmas markets across Germany. One of my dream came true when I experience Christkindlmarkt last year. Famous ones  are in Nuremberg, Munich and Rothenburg. Most markets are open also on Sundays and draws lots of visitors from neighboring places.This is the best time to see Germany in its most colorful and unique display of celebrating Christmas with the highlights of the Christkindl —the German equivalent for the world-renowned Santa Claus and depicted as an angelic figure with blond hair & wings. It’s really not time of the year without a Christkindlmarkt here in Germany.

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Heart-shaped Lebkuchen or German Gingerbread  cookies.

St. Nikolaus and the Christkind

Santa Claus originated as a Catholic figure. The Christkind was created by Protestants. Christkind transformed from a suggestion of Baby Jesus into a blonde, female angel. In Nürnberg, each year a teenage girl is chosen to represent the Christkind in the weeks leading up to Christmas. She is known as the Nürnberger Christkind and, much like with Santa, children take pictures with her and tell her what gifts they would like for Christmas. The highlight of each Christmas markets is the German’s famous mulled wine or “Glühwein” or hot spiced wine, the Krippenweg, the beautiful craft stalls, and lots of traditional German Christmas food. There are so many attractions for kids like carousel, trains, carousel and the ice skating rink. One thing worth mentioning is the efficiency of  Germans in their way of setting up the whole place into a big arena  winter wonderland within weeks or so.

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Only in Germany : Forget Santa, meet the Christkindl and Saint Nicholas

 Sankt Nikolaustag ( Dec. 5 or 6)

I grew up believing the magical tale of  Santa Claus as someone who is a bearded old man, with a big belly, dressed in red outfit riding the sleigh with sacks of gifts. All the way from the North pole giving gifts to children. But in Philippines, we don’t have snow neither reindeer or chimneys, so this makes me cringe now.  For many children, sitting in the lap of Santa Claus while being photographed is one of the most unforgettable time during Christmas. They either scream in anguish or shriek in delight! Here in Germany, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, only the Weichnachtsmann who is a favorite among children during St. Nicholas Day! My daughter will be celebrating her 2nd St. Nicholas in their Kindergarten this year.

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My daughter’s first Nikolaustag ( St. Nicholas )

In Germany,  December 5th is a very special night. Many children put their cleaned boots and shoes outside the front door on the night of 5 December. They believe that St. Nicholas fills the boot with nuts, oranges, gifts and sweets overnight. Sometimes the Nikolaus also visits the children at the Kindergarden or in the school and asks them if they have been good.My daughter already hung her sock in their Kita for the upcoming St. Nicholas. In Holland, as similar to this celebration, Sinterklaas is also a big celebration before Christmas.

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Frohe Weichnachten!

Christmas Eve – Heiliger Abend (also Heiligabend)

December 24 is still a regular working day here in Germany. But around 2:00 pm, often even earlier, businesses, and most shops are 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, but nowadays it varies from what each family loves to prepare. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of Christ’s birth aloud.This is the counterpart of our traditional “Noche Buena” without the roasted pig, Christmas ham and Queso de Bola ( Cheese ball)! Compared to the Philippines and other countries, I don’t see  Christmas Carollers here either that goes from house to house, at least not in our neighborhood.Probably because its hard to sing and be out at night when its freezing cold at night.

Family members exchange gifts and children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. Here in Germany,  opening gifts on Heiliger Abend is the normal way, compared to other countries who opens the gifts on the morning of December 25th.

I grew up attending Midnight Christmas mass or Simbang Gabi. We usually attend evening mass on a 9-day series of mass up to the” Misa de Gallo “or ( Christmas eve mass) . Here in Bavaria, I only went to the mass on Christmas Day, 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. It is terribly cold around midnight or in early morning so the schedule of the mass usually happens around 9 in the morning. The mass is in German and it was a great experience for a first timer like me who listens to Christmas songs in German.

Second day of Christmas ( or St. Stephen Day)

Here in Germany, you have an excuse to sleep in after the big party from Christmas. Yes, Germans and other countries in Europe including the Netherlands have 2 days of Christmas, both are legal and widely celebrated holidays! This is a mellow day, a quiet day to recover from the hustle of  everything. Depending on the weather, people are still very active, running, jogging and doing sports during the 2nd day of Christmas. For typical Germans, they spend the second day of Christmas with their families, visiting Grandparents, enjoying seasonal threats and of course–ruhe or enjoying some peace & contemplation.

Also, do you know what else Germans do after Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without shopping!

They go shopping to grab the year-end clearance sales and buy everything on a decent price! Yes, Germans are practical, and spend their money wisely! Last year, we got our 7- foot Christmas Tree on sale for half of its original price!And we will be on the lookout once again for great things to buy this year!

How about you, do you also have unique Christmas traditions?

How do you prepare for Christmas for your family?

 

Sending you some warm cheers for the coming holidays!

 

Tschüss!

 

 

Prost! Biergarten and the Beer Culture in Germany

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Beer tasting in Abensberg, Bavaria ,Germany
What is it about Germans and their Beers?

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Prost! 
 

Or what about  German Beer tents, Lederhosens and Dirndls and more Beer?

 

 

Imagine, I’ve been living here in Germany for almost more than a year now, and I realized that I’ve never written anything about Bier— the “liquid gold” of this country , or worldly known as Beer.  My daughter has been obsessed  with Pretzel ( or Brezen)  been into Beer tents and Volksfests, and I, shamelessly confessing my love for German Beer culture.

 

I think it’s  just fitting that I write about it for a fact that I am living in the Beer capital of the world : Bavaria! My personal views are honest observations as an Asian expat who have learned to embraced their Beer culture, (and loving it!, of course )

“Where people brew beer, that’s a good place to live!”  {an old Czech saying}

Unique, Bavarian Beer

I don’t know any other place in this world where in Beer is regarded as important as staple food in everyday lifestyle. I grow up knowing that beer is seen as a drink of pleasure. I have never had a liking to it, I find it too bitter and I hate frequent trips to the toilet as I am not a drinker. Here in Bavaria it is considered more as a basic food. It’s no wonder on average a Bavarian consumes from birth to the grave some 150 litres (40 gallons) of beer per year. Just like German’s world-record breaking number of Breads and Sausages,  For the record, Bavaria is known to have 40 types of beer, over 600 Breweries and approximately 4,000 brands! Imagine that! It all depends on your preferences, and of course, the price. You can read more of it Here.

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Biergarten in front of New Castle
Need I say more, I told you, Beer is THE BIG thing here.

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Biergarten with the view of the Church on a hill in Walhalla.

Biergarten is the place to be!

Where else is the best place to enjoy Bier ?

Biergartens ( or Beer gardens)  are normal garden halls or part of the restaurant under shady green trees, with wooden benches, and shared tables in a cozy setting where people meet together, eating, chatting, lounging, and of course—with a beer. Every meeting is best celebrated with a cold, tall glass, pils or  Maß  of bubbly beer. All Biergartens are closed during Winter and  officially opens during beautiful weather around May in true style round the maypole with traditional May dances and a barrel of tasty “Maibock”. The moment you see those tables and chairs laid down, you know, good times are bound to come.

The thing is, most people doesn’t know that Beer is not just part of German culture —it’s their  culture, life, lifeblood, a legacy  and undying tradition passed on to generations to generations.

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German pride!
 

Back then in Kuwait, people spend more time in shopping malls because of the heat outside. Here in Bavaria, especially on warm summer months,  Biergarten is the best place to go, or celebrate everything. It’s not just a place to get drunk. I once saw a wedding reception in the Biergarten and family gatherings. For the locals, the moment the sun shines, people flocked here as early as 9 A.M . As a mother, I find it so cool that some Biergartens are kid-friendly. They have “spielplatz”or play areas , and even have kids meal and kinder beer. Families enjoy time with their friends while kids can play.

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Beautiful Biergarten beside the well-known Kuchlbauer Brewery and Kuchlbauer Turm.
When we visited the “Kuchlbauer Brewery”with the Kuchlbauer Turm inspired by Hundertwasser in Abensberg, the atmosphere in the Biergarten is super cozy. Imagine, they even built a tower to honor beer! With a nice view of the tower, everyone is having a great time! Bavaria’s largest beer garden (and probably the largest in the world) is Munich’s Hirschgarten that can cater for some 8,000 people. Here in Ingolstadt, here are some of our favorite Biergartens to visit.

It’s also typical in Bavaria where  old people regularly meet in Biergartens, locally known as “Stammtisch”. Sometimes they even have games, party, dancing, with traditional Volk music, and yes, all throughout Sunday! Another unique thing is that people wears their traditional “Trachten“, the Lederhosen and Dirndls! 

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Biergarten above the hill in Nürnberg

Only Pure Beer

Did you know that in Germany, especially in Bavaria where it all originated, the German Beer Purity Law rules, the Reinheitsgebot is a L-A-W. 500 Years of regulated law for Beer Brewing is no joke. Its a serious business, and for Germans, there is high respect for this regulation.

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The German Beer Purity Law
“Reinheitsgebot, also known as the Bavarian Beer Purity Law and Bavarian Beer Ingredient Law, was enacted in 1516 , in Ingolstadt by the Duke of Bavaria, so that only beers made with just three ingredients — hops, barley malt and water (yeast was unknown at the time) — were allowed to be labeled a “pure” German beer and fit to drink “. This law has 3 aims :

  • To protect drinkers from high prices
  • To ban the use of wheat beer so more bread could be made
  • And to stop the unscrupulous brewers from adding “dubious”toxic , even hallucinogenic ingredients as preservatives or flavourings.

Everything sounds great, right?

They included herbs and spices such as rosemary and caraway, henbane, thorn-apple, wood shavings, roots, soot or even pitch, according to the German Brewers’ Association (DBB).The DBB claims that the Reinheitsgebot is the oldest currently valid consumer protection law in the world. Germany exports 1.5 billion litres of beer every year, and the country is pretty proud of its beer and the purity law.

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A Festival is no Festival without Beer

From the time that I’ve lived here, I have never seen a German as drunk as hell, swaying and getting wasted in the streets, let alone getting amok because of  beer intoxication. During Oktoberfest, if you see a wasted man or woman from the festival, it’s most likely that He/ She is a tourist. Germans sits in the Biergarten for 3-5 hours on Sunday and still rides their bike afterwards going home, even old people.

In Germany,  beer is more than the  Beer Festival  in Munich or the world known as “Oktoberfest”. Before, I only knew of Oktoberfest as a time to get totally drunk and wasted in club or in a bar, drinking buckets of beer,watching live bands–having a great night out—that’s it. While living here, when I first have a taste of my very first “pure” Bavarian beer” , I realized how little I know. Germany has more to offer than just Oktoberfest.  It has so many festivals celebrated all throughout the year, all celebrated with beer. Starting with Frühlingsfest ( Spring Festival), Herbstfest-Volksfest ( Autumn Festival) , Oktoberfest ( Beer Festival in Bavarian capital-Munich) , add the Easter, Bürgerfest, and the Christkindlmarkts ( or  Christmas Markets) —everything is celebrated with O’zapft is!  or the tapping of Beer barrel.

Drink, Eat, Repeat

In the beginning of beer gardens, there was plenty to drink but nothing to eat. Because brewers were not allowed to sell food, many Germans brought their own pretzel and wurst to the beer garden. But nowadays, there are plenty of specialties to indulge, so there’s always a reason to taste the local delicacies especially served in Biergartens.Along with local beer, served in 1-liter steins, German beer garden specialties include:

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  • Brotzeit – a platter with cold cuts, artisan cheese, sausages, pretzel, horseradish, and cucumbers
  • Currywurst swimming in currysauce with pommes ( potato fries)
  • Obatzter – a soft, white cheese, mixed with onions and chives
  • Weisswurst – white sausage, complimented by sweet mustard and a pretzel
  • Kartoffelsalat ( potato salad)
  • Hendl  (Half-roasted chicken)
  • Schnitzel with pommes

Germans are best described as people who work hard, and play hard. Just look at their Beer and Biergarten culture and you’ll understand what I mean.

How about you, do you like to drink Bier? What do you think of their Biergartens?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spargelzeit : White asparagus time in Germany!

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Spargelzeit ! ( White Asparagus season) ,Germany’s King of Vegetables arrives in Springtime!

Spring is totally  all over here in Germany!

Everyday, as I  look at how the pretty magnolias and enchanting pink cascades of cherry blossoms brings a pink spectacle in our surroundings, this makes me love even more Spring! Even the tulips that I planted in our garden blossoms into bright fuschia and red bulbs, beside the rows of yellow daffodils making it super ‘Gezellig‘, and undeniably a cozy, warm & festive season! And yes, time for Germans to indulge in white Spargels! When I say indulge, imagine a  consumption of whooping 125,000 tonnes per year!

It is true,that’s a whole LOT of Asparagus or locally known as Spargel!

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The “White Gold”in Germany, the White Asparagus

Just as the Apple marks the Fall season and culinary delights for baked pies, Spring time here in Germany signals the start of Spargelzeit, or the season of White Asparagus!

Have you heard anything like this before? Well for me, I only knew of Green Asparagus! I’ve read that there’s a purple variety as well but white, it never really occurred to me!  I have never seen or tasted  a white asparagus in my entire life. Not until I’ve been here in Germany. If you’re wondering what’s the difference, very simple actually;  the white variety grows entirely surrounded by earth. In turn, this protects the slender stalk from sunlight exposure and keeps it from turning green. This also affects the subtle flavor of it. Rich in nutrients and very low in calories, asparagus is a healthy and delicious food!

Remember my story about how Germans decorate their fountains with 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs? Germans as well, prefer this seasonal white delicacy that grows only during Spargelzeit, from April to July. Now nobody can really underestimate the Germans special affection to Easter, Spring festivals and their culinary calendar in each season. Especially here in my Bavarian town,  Ostermarkt (Easter Market), Osterbrunnen (Easter fountain)  and the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival) are all big celebrations . But the special culinary specialty for Spring is no doubt the white, long, slender stems of white Spargel (asparagus) .

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My first sighting of the famous White German Asparagus ( Spargel) in our local Farmer’s market .

Germany’s  “king of vegetables” can be seen as early as middle of March but the official harvesting season of white spargel starts around April and ends until June 24. First time that I saw these white asparagus was in our local farmer’s market and since then, I saw these bunches more often as well in various supermarkets. Though prices might soar up high during the season, and many will sprout as cheap ones, they say that it’s still best to get the best grade asparagus since as for the Germans, it is always worth paying more for the ‘white gold’.

So how does the White Spargel taste?

White asparagus is much softer in texture and stringier than the green asparagus.It has more subtle and delicate flavour. It is traditionally served with melted butter and potatoes (Spargel mit Butter), with ham (Spargel mit Schinken) or with hollandaise sauce (Spargel mit holländischer Sauce).

I’ve found out more interesting facts about the White Spargel :

  1. It takes 3 (Three) long years for an asparagus plant to produce its first tip.The soil is piled up in knee-high banks making its unique appearance.
  2. The states of Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony take special pride in being prime asparagus growing regions in Germany.
  3. Just like beer festival, there is also a “Spargelfest” ( Spargel festival)  held where culinary experts showcase their fresh spargel dishes,peeling contest and even celebrating with the Asparagus Queen!
  4. There is an Asparagus Museum in Herten, North Rhein Westphalia, in Germany.The Vestisches Spargelmuseum is dedicated to this spring delight, owned by Ludger Südfeld.  The exhibit display trace the entire cultivation process of this vegetable.
  5. According to the records from 2012 released by Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently, asparagus uses a fifth of the entire open land area for vegetables in Germany, making it the vegetable with the largest cultivation area in the country.
  6. The city of Schwetzingen claims to be the Asparagus capital of the World!
  7. During Spargelzeit, the average German enjoys the delicate flavor of this tender spring vegetable at least once a day. This, in turn, adds up to a national total of over 70,000 tons per year!

 

Yes, would you believe that in this country known for its ordnungs, there is also Asparagus quality !

Asparagus Quality

Germany has divided asparagus into strict quality classes, comparable to USDA Grade A, Choice, etc. The classes of “Spargel” are:

Extra – Minimum diameter of 12 mm (15/32 inch), no hollow cores, perfectly straight and all white. Most expensive.

Handelsklasse I (HK I) – Minimum diameter of 10 mm (3/8 inch), light bending, light coloration (violet). Good value.

Handelsklasse II (HK II) – Minimum diameter of 8 mm (5/16 inch), curved stalks allowed, slightly opened flower heads, more color than HK I and sometimes woody. Good for soup stock and students.

 

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever tried eating white Asparagus?Also, do you think eating Asparagus makes your urine smell?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!