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.
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.
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.
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!
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 figureand 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
“If you don’t have Christmas in your heart, you will never find it under a Tree “
Less than 2 days and it’s Christmas! The loonggg wait would soon be over…
Is your Christmas tree already up? I bet that by this time, presents were already packed too,neatly piled up under the tree and you’ve been enjoying the magical lights that is flooding your living room every night for quite sometime now.
Today was the first day of break from work and we are all good. Oh Yes, we feel good. My little family is all set to have a wonderful Christmas together, stress-free! This is what we want and what we need. We’ve been hit by the flu bug for the past weeks and we were sick but we are getting better now. The cold air outside still gives us chills but our hearts are warm, excited,and looking forward for more better days. We did some errands today , did some Christmas shopping and as I passed by the Christmas market in the city center, I pondered that tomorrow is its last day. We had fun out there and we have made great memories out of it. This time,I want to share another fascinating thing that I found out about German Christmas Markets (Christkindlmarkt), it’s about the Christmas trees of Good Wishes.
Have you heard anything like this? I tell you, it’s not your ordinary Christmas Tree.
I just discovered another way to maximize my visits to Christmas markets, and not just collecting mugs from the Glühwein ,or buying those little presents, that is by taking a look at the Christmas Trees of Good wishes. These trees are normal pine or fir trees put up inside the market, normally located near the stage where the Giant Adventkalendar and the place where the actual carving of ‘Krippe’ is being done. Any visitor who may wish or try to decorate the Christmas trees of good wishes can do so, anytime, everyone is encouraged and welcome to participate. During this time where anybody can do a bit of reflection during the busy holidays, you can also let your own wishes be with the four “naked”trees erected just opposite the Adventsbühne. Anyone who wishes to hang their own personal choice of ornaments such as star, straw , ball or other Christmas decoration can choose from the wide array of choices of the Baubles being sold there or you can even bring your own. After the 4th Advent weekend, the trees will be move in front of the city town hall (Rathaus) where people can publicly admire them until the beginning of the brand new year.
I remember visiting the Labyrinth Garden and I saw something similar like this. It’s like the Apple Tree , located in the center of the garden,where in you can think in silence , make a wish for another person, a time of solitude and best wishes, then hang an ornament, a memento, a special token or a symbol for your wishes.
The Christmas trees of Good wishes is a perfect symbol for a sort of Christmas reflection. I find it meaningful to have something like this. It’s a nice way to remind us that this Advent season is also a time for reflection and to think of others and do charitable work, to be grateful, no matter what. I was personally saddened by the news of what happened to Berlin Christmas Market. Those innocent victims and the poor souls who end up being injured and traumatized by the incident. They came there to enjoy and have a great time and ended up injured,harassed, even some lost their lives. Such a tragic thing happened in a Christmas Market.No one has the right to steal our joy during this happiest time of the year and yet, things like this happened. We need to spread more love, and not hate. More good wishes, and not bitterness.
I reflect on this and thought that if wishes could have a power to change things then it is powerful. Imagine if all our silent wishes can be granted in an instant?
Do you still remember your feeling when you were decorating your Christmas tree? What did you feel?
Excitement? Anticipation? Joy?
Worry, Fear,Hopeful maybe?
Or or you see it only as a chore? But the thing is, only yourself knows…
” I am thinking how amazing it could be if you could make one wish for someone in your life, or even utter a silent prayer for every ornament you hang in your tree…wouldn’t it be such a great time decorating? and how fulfilling the Tree-trimming could be …”
Here’s my wish for you this Christmas and for the coming New Year ;
May your heart grow three sizes this year –Love and only Love. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!
I grew up adoring Santa Claus. Almost every Christmas, someone would dressed up as Santa Claus to make the occasion even more festive. The party gets more alive and kids shrieked with glee once they see him. From decorations ,cards, Christmas socks, to figurines set up in shops, there is this heavily- bearded old man dressed in red suit with a hat and black boots, carrying a sack full of gifts. It has even become a tradition for kids to sit in the lap of Santa Claus and take photos. The sight of him elevates our excitement for the great gifts that He brings. As a kid, I am also enamored to the old tale that if you have been good all through out the year, you will receive presents from Santa Claus. Santa flies through the air on a winter night of Christmas eve with his sleigh full of gifts pulled by reindeer, especially led by Rudolf, the one with a red nose. Santa Claus climbs up to the chimney and then leave the gifts under the Christmas tree.
On the other side,my Dutch husband grew up adoring Sinterklaas or the De Goede Sint(The Good Saint) which is the big thing for kids in the Netherlands . Sinterklaas is widely celebrated on Dec. 5th and most anticipated by Dutch kids during December more than Christmas day itself. Sinterklaas wears a long red cape or chasuble over a traditional white bishop’s alb and sometimes red stola, dons a red mitre and ruby ring, and holds a gold-coloured crosier, a long ceremonial shepherd’s staff with a fancy curled top. He traditionally rides a white horse. In the Netherlands, the horse is called Amerigo. Sinterklaas with his Zwarte piets roam around the neighborhood and give gifts to children.This festivity is full of Kruidnoten, Gevuldekoeken,chocolate letters, spekulaas cookies and so many different treats for the little ones. It’s really the biggest event for Dutch kids.
There are so many Santa Claus figures all over the world but I believe that they all portray the same role as the mythical Santa Claus and its connection to Christmas.But here in Germany, Santa Claus is nowhere to be found because St. Nicholas beats him. In this festive season,all German kids look forward for St. Nicholas Day or Nikolaustag on December 6, more than Christmas Day on December 25th.
But who is the real St. Nicholas?
Across the German-speaking region of Europe there are many kinds of Santa Clauses with many different names. Despite their many names, they are all basically the same mythic character. But few of them have anything to do with the real Saint Nicholas (Sankt Nikolaus or der Heilige Nikolaus), who was probably born around A.D. 245 in the port city of Patara in what we now call Turkey.He is credited with several miracles and his feast day is December 6, which is the main reason he is connected with Christmas. In Austria, parts of Germany, and Switzerland, der Heilige Nikolaus (or Pelznickel) brings his gifts for children on Nikolaustag, Dec. 6, not Dec. 25.
So what happens during Nikolaustag in Germany?
I noticed that German kids are very very spoiled during Christmas season here in Germany. As early as October, the shops are already filled with Adventkalendar which is literally a calendar with chocolates , toys and sweets! German kids count the days before St. Nicholas ‘s arrival through the Adventkalendar which also coincide with the 4 weeks of Advent season before Christmas day. Around November, the shops are already adorned with Christmas decorations, there’s the wide array of different Adventkranz, and the Weihnachtsmann or (Father Christmas ) strolls inside the shops with a sack giving out chocolate balls and sweets for kids. He also visit the Christkindlmarkt during Frohe festtages where there again, giving away candy bracelets, toys and chocolate balls to eager kids. One happy day for kids, and for parents too!
On the night of December 5th , in small communities in Austria and the Catholic regions of Germany, a man dressed as der Heilige Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) who resembles a bishop and carries a staff) goes from house to house to bring small gifts to the children. Accompanying him are several ragged looking, devil-like Krampusse, who mildly scare the children. Although Krampus/Knecht Ruprecht carries eine Rute (a switch), He only teases the children with it, while St. Nicholas hands out small gifts to the children. In some regions, there are other names for both Nikolaus and Krampus (Knecht Ruprecht in northern Germany). The Krampuslauf custom found in Austria and Bavaria also happens around December 5 or 6, but it also can take place at various times during November or December, depending on the community. While Santa Claus is more gay and cheerful ,take note that St. Nicholas doesn’t even say Ho ho ho !
Now that we live in Bavaria, my daughter had her first taste of Nikolaustag. She shrieked with delight when she saw her yellow boots is filled with goodies and gifts . Her first taste of Nikolaustag came as a bright and sweet surprise! This experience is new to us but then I am so glad that my daughter can have things such as this. This is one of the local traditions that we are looking forward to celebrate through the coming years.
Do you believe in Santa Claus?
What Christmas traditions do you do during this holiday season?
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Finally, I have made my very first visit and seeing a real German Christmas market–the Christkindlmarkt ! The great thing about being an Expat is exploring things like a tourist and enjoying it like locals do. I am so grateful that my Expat Life had brought me so much new cultures to learn and different stories to share with you. I am sure that you’ve heard about Germany being famous worldwide for its beautiful Christmas markets &meaningful traditions and now I know why…
This year is our first taste of Christmas in Germany and as I finally became a resident here, I wanna share with you my whole experience through Germany’s Weihnachten, after all, it’s my favorite time of the year,the Christmas season.
After almost 8 years of Christmas in Kuwait, where celebrating Christmas is confined into the insides of our flat, this year’s gonna be a whole lot different for me personally. I am seeing lots of new things, and various exciting things as we look forward for this holiday season. Even away from the Netherlands, my daughter is so ready to celebrate Sinterklaas version or the St. NicholasDay (Der Nikolaustag) on Dec. 6. Again, for the first time as well, I have made our own Advent wreaths (Adventkranz) and pine wreaths which I decorated to hang in our doors. It’s so different to have a real wreaths made out of twigs and pines.Traditionally, German families gather around the wreath on each Advent Sunday to light the candle, sing Christmas carols and eat Christmas cookies. For me, I needed to pay extra attention when the candle is lit because I have a frenzy toddler who wants to play with the pines and ehmm..blow the candles.
Last Wednesday, November 23, at 5pm, the Christkindlmarkt in Ingolstadt opened with sparkling lights and putting up the giant 14- meters Christmas tree (Weihnachtsbaum) in front of the Town Hall (Rathausplatz) signalling the start of this year’s Frohe Festtages.The whole city center were transformed into a winter wonderland and I was really amazed by how efficient the local organizers have put up the whole set for the next 31 days. Everything looks like a page in a book of Winter Wonderland. The Christkindlmarkt here in Ingolstadt along with all other Christmarkets all over Germany lights up the city from November 23 up to 23rd of December 2016, some even lasts until 8th of January next year.
I was looking forward to see Ingolstädter Krippenweg. For me, it’s the highlight of celebrating Christmas as well as Filipinos observed the “Simbang Gabi“or the Night Mass observed for 9- nights from Dec. 16-24. I remembered having our Nativity set placed under our Christmas trees. This year, we have our hand- crafted Nativity set from Kenya, a gift from my parents in-law. But here in Germany, they have the city’s Trail of Nativity and there’s a special tour for tourists- the “Kumm,geh ma Kripperl schaugn” for visitors who wants to see the unique ‘cribs’ that can be found here in Bavaria. I have seen 2 of them already and I look forward to see the largest nativity in the Spitalkirche on the next days. Ingolstadt is a home of famous “cribs”as early as 1594.
Stay tuned for my detailed post about the historical cribs in different periods and styles displayed in various places and churches spread in this old Bavarian city and of course, the Polish artist from Opole carving the wood cribs.
As shoppers flocked everyday in the busy city center,the shops along Ludwigstr. adorned their windows with colorful, festive and holiday displays which gives delights to all ages. The whole city is adorned with Christmas decorations . Everywhere I looked, I see decorated wreaths and cafes have become even more cozier with their winter lounges and warm decor. I felt like I am really in a different world. Along the streets, the little ones get crazy with the carousels (Kinderkarussell), trains (Kinder eisenbahn) and the Weihnachts Märchenweg. There are Story telling- booths with statues and moving puppets for famous fairy tale stories like “Der Frösch-Konig”, “Rapunzel“, Hänsel und Gretel”,”Rot-Käppchen”,”Schnee Wittchen” and many more. Such a fun way to engage the little ones!
Outside, I observed that most trees gradually lost their colored leaves, some are already bare, it seems to be getting colder from day-to-day and the hedges starts to freeze. I wonder when will the first snow fall here in Bavaria? Schokonikoläuse and gingerbread have long adorned the shelves of supermarkets, a clear sign, the year is drawing to a close. I can’t believe that 2016 will soon get over…another brand new year to come.
Also I noticed that Germans ( also Bavarians ) celebrates this holiday with style and lots of Uhmm.. sweets and threats, such as the Advenkalendar. While I was doing our grocery shopping, I noticed that there is a huge pile of these colorful boxes, some in edgy shapes, with Christmas stories and designs. The German Advenkalendar madness had begun. Germans surely have a way to spoil themselves ( and little ones!) with lots of chocolates even before the calories add up on Christmas dinners and parties! For the 3 visits we’ve made, my daughter was showered already with lots of Scholonikoläuse, bonbons, and sweets..for this I need to be tolerant. The Weihnachtsman inside the shops are so generous!
In addition to so many sweet and hearty treats, a lot of punch, mulled wine and Feuerzangenbowle, and the aroma of Glühwein (“glow wine”) are served. These drinks will warm you up even before you actually drink this German version of hot mulled wine.Germans really know how to keep the chill away.
Outside the confines of shops, this place is packed with so many great gift ideas in displays.We strolled inside the Christkindlmarkt and found many tempting food stalls. There’s the German rolls and brötchen with sausages and Bratwurst, grilled meats in buns, or with crispy pommes, the Stollen (Fruitcake) and lebkuckens even French crepes!
There are huge stall for decorative glass wares, candles made out of beeswax, toys, arts & crafts, Christmas decor to adorn the Weinachtsbaum (Christmas tree), yummy threats like Ginger breads , Lebkucken,Schaumküsse, and lots of tortes and chocolate bonbons! My favorite was the shop with all the hand painted Christmas balls. They all looked so beautiful!
The city was transformed into a scenic festive place as well the arcades of the old town hall, the Winterlounge opens again . An oasis of peace, where you can relax the day with a mulled wine or punch. This is also a perfect place to socialize and just enjoy a cozy night out with friends.
The fun continues when we saw another special thing about German Christmas market-the Ice Skating rink! The whole area ofParadeplatz were transformed into a beautiful “Eis Arena am Schloss”. Imagine skating in front of the beautiful Neues Schloss ( New Castle), for a true magical Ice skating experience. A 500- square meter ice surface is waiting for all ice skating enthusiasts and the adventurous ones. My toddler can’t keep her eyes from this place but she’s still too young to skate with all the big ones.
Beside the Herzogkasten,the Carraraplatz is transformed into a small handicraft space. On the four adventures, artists and artisans, in Christmas-decorated huts, offer their unique products. I realized that there are so many talented artists here and so many beautiful crafts! There is also the Kulturezeit,special treat for big and small ones. The tent moves from the Schlossinnenhof to the Herzogkasten. Story-tellers, artists and authors invite young and old to join in and listen.
What about you, how’s Christmas celebrated in your place? Have you ever tried Glühwein ?
So much already right? Germans really have a way to make every Weihnachten the best holiday time of the year and as an Expat, I can really say that “It’s not this time of Year without Christkindlmarkt”.
To think it’s only the first week,and I bet there’s more to come. I will share them all in my next posts so stay tuned for more about celebrating Christmas the German way.
2016 was a year of changes for me and yes,today , is my 100 day-mark living as an Expat in Germany.
Last summer,we have successfully touched down & settled in our new ground. We have a decent place to live, a garden of which my daughter is so happy to roll over everyday, a 5- minutes walk and we’re standing in the middle of the woods, with lots of nearby playgrounds and finally living-out our European dreams! I call it European-dream for myself– because this is actually my first time to live in Europe. I tell you, it is so different from being a visiting tourist compared if you are an Expat living here. If you are an Expat -Mama relocating to Bavaria, you should read this for you know that Germany has wonderful pros for raising your kids. Here in Bavaria, it has so many playgrounds for children and the education system is of global competence. Something that I would really love my daughter to have.
So forgive me if I flood my Blog with things that are all new to me. Only with 2 months of preparation, we left Kuwait , sold our furnitures, sent our important stuff to Germany and moved to Bavaria.You can imagine my overwhelmed self when I saw how life is different from Kuwait compared to here. Talking about the efficient public transport system, did I mentioned that its my first time to ride in a German ICE (Deutsch Bahn high speed train ) and my daughter totally loved it?!
Everywhere I look, it’s all new and different for me. Almost everyone is fair & blonde, Deutsch is a strange language in my ears, the amount of sausages, the dark breads, the overwhelming calcium in the water, and who won’t be intrigued with volk musik and festivals? For the first time in my life, I have cycled with a tiny human behind me in two-wheels, and it felt terrifying,at the same time a total new experience for me. Yes, we managed to get home in one piece,safe and sound!
Everyone is so comfortable with cycling around as the easiest mode of getting around, to work, to do errands, or just getting active in any time of the day. Where else can you see people who shop in their wooden baskets and carries tons of bottles for recycling?Germans drink more sparkling water than tap water. Yup yup,only in Germany.
I’m happy I can stay out for hours without the soles of my shoes burning. Finally a decent temperature, well at least for now. Ever the air that I breathe is new to me. It felt clean and friendly to my lungs. I love the German way of protecting their environment and keeping everything in order. I haven’t even heard cars honking, only rings from the cyclist! Sorry Kuwait, you’re so fine,I missed the Baklavasand dates, but I had enough of dust storms and honking maniac drivers.
I can’t think of a better way to mark this day but by listing out things I have seen within 100 days of living here..but first, let me tell you first a bit of something about this place called “Bayern “.
Bavaria– is the region in the southeast part of Germany . Close enough to Austria & Switzerland , Czech Republic & France. The largest city in Bavaria is Munich or München ( and also third among most-populated city next to Hamburg & Berlin) and is the center of Beer festival known as ‘Oktoberfest‘. I thought it was just a get-wasted with beer festival but realized that it’s more than that. Excuse my poor mind!
1.Bavaria is Green.
It’s always been my dream to live in a place which have a city vibe & modern and yet with a foremost country-living feel. This is where Bavaria falls into. Ingolstadt is a city surrounded with vast green, it is so verdant that you always have a reason to spend the day outdoors. Historical old towns surrounded with green forests, medieval fortresses, beautiful architecture and lush gardens, you name it, it’s here. From hiking in the or cycling in the forest you can be in cobbled stones within 20 minutes. Bavarians love their nature and enjoy it relentlessly. I felt so close to nature here. I feel lucky that it’s always within my reach.
2.Bavarians love their National costume with pride.
How often did you wear your country’s national costume or dress?
I cannot even recall for myself. Maybe only once, at school loooong time ago!But in Bavaria, it is different. They wear it as often as they drink beer and there’s a sense of pride when they wear their ‘Tracht I’. thought I was still dreaming when I saw men inLederhosen and pretty women in Dirndl in the crowded streets in Munich and so much more here in Ingolstadt. Before I only saw them in internet and now I see them before my eyes. I need to pinch myself sometimes to be reminded that they were real. I am so surprised by just how strongly the locals kept to their traditions, and just how many walked around wearing traditional Lederhosen looking so comfy, with knee-high socks and alpine hats, on a daily basis. From the young kids to the old ones.
3.Bavaria have Old, historical & beautiful beautiful Churches
I love beautiful architecture and visiting old churches. It has so much history in there and always a great work of art. Here in Bavaria, they have a unique culture, more of being a conservative ones since most are Catholics ( 52%). This explains why they have so many beautiful Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance churches, all in the same place.
4.The best beer in the world is here. The liquid gold from Bavaria.
Even if you’re not a beer-drinker, you’ve got to love the Bavarian’s cozy way of relaxation. Enjoying a mug of beer after a hard day at work is the best form of solace. Biergartens are not only for Beer drinkers but have become an attraction for all ages.Have you heard about Biergarten having a play yard adjacent to it? It’s true.
Bavaria is regarded as a wealthy region, and people tend to take time to enjoy themselves. And the best way to enjoy is to sit in a cozy Biergarten ,to meet with friends, or just have a night out with your partner. It’s a lifestyle. The ‘Reinhetsgebot‘ (or the Bavarian Beer Purity law) which can be traced since 1516 originated in Bavaria. On average, a typical Bavarian consumes from birth to the grave some 150 litres (40 gallons) of beer per year so it’s no surprise that Bavarians are at top of the beer consuming list of states in Germany.
What is the best way to show their undying love for beer? through Oktoberfest and Volksfestof course! In our neighborhood itself, I found 3-4 Biergartens.
5.Bavaria is the birthplace of many innovations, famous people and events.
There is so many things that can be associated with Bavaria. Just like everyone loves a good pair of sneakers, but did you know that Adidas was founded by the Bavarian, Adolf “Adi”Dassler? while his other brother, Rudolf Dassler founded Puma. Famous Bavarians include Pope Benedict XVI, Richard Wagner, Richard Straus, Thomas Mann, Levi Strauss, and Rudolf Diesel to name a few. If you’re a football fan I’m sure you know Bayern Munich, which is the most successful team in the Bundesliga , and having won European Champions League four times (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001).
Should I add having one or two of the best luxury cars in the world?
Bavaria has the largest economy in all Germany. This Bavarian pride comes being the Headquarters of car giants BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) in Munich and Audi AG in Ingolstadt. Bavaria is the region of one of the best-selling cars around the world! Anyone visiting Bavaria should visit the BMW Welt in Munich and the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt to see just how big these giants are. Really recommended for car-lovers!
Bavaria has a good standing when it comes to economy. So I am not surprised why this region is a magnet for Expats. Aside from having an affordable cost of living, the quality of life is high.
6.Best of both worlds for Expats
Bavaria offers great opportunities for Expats and their families. Even expat kids have financial allowance given by the German government and not to mention the Integration class with encouragement to learn the language for better integration to their culture. This is what Bavaria is. A place of new opportunities and culture-learning so an Expat doesn’t feel a forever Alien. My experience in the Rathaus ( City Hall) is very pleasing.The immigration process and paperwork for an immigrant like me is very tedious and yet, systematic. The locals are very friendly and accomodating. Contrary to what they say that Germans are cold, I find them rather open and very kind.
Ah yes,lastly, after contemplating about living in Bavaria for the last 100 days, who can’t be intrigued with their food? A sausage in a bun for snack,lunch or dinner. Indeed, welcome to Germany!
Are you an Expat too? What part of another culture is hard for you to get used to?
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Last month while I was walking through our neighborhood, I spotted this Stork wood post and suddenly, my husband told me that “They’ve got a new baby!” I asked, “How do you know?” and he said that it is an old tradition not only in Bavaria but also in some European countries like Holland. It is a common sight to put the stork pole in front of the yard or garden of the family who had a new baby.In the beak stork holding a baby in a diaper fixed. A blue ribbons to the diaper means that a boy is born, a pink bow for a girl. Quite similar to Dutch baby traditions just without the infamous Geboortekaartje (Birth card ) and Beschuit met Muisjes.
It is indeed clear that a happy event took place in this house. A very proper way of announcing to the whole neighborhood, right?
Only in the Netherlands : Sleep-Deprived situation Alert!
Handmade card with Stork & Babies when my daughter was born
The other day, I went on another street and again, found another familiar wood Stork , this time it was a bit different because it has some accessories such as the baby clothes of a girl and a boy.
Kindsbaum or also known as Stork ( Storch) pole is a traditional way of announcing the arrival of babies in Germany. Especially in southern Bavaria, it is customary to set up a so-called child tree for the wedding (in some regions it is called wedding tree). It is about a 5 to 10 m long, white-blue painted trunk, be suspended from the “branches” various baby stuff (bodysuits, pacifier, bottle, etc.). Usually a stork is mounted at the top of the child harness. In addition, located at the bottom of the tree at eye level a blackboard with a poem in which the newly married couple is reminded of his duty to bring to the world within a year. The setting up of a child tree is a particularly beautiful tradition that is lived mainly in southern Bavaria, and always a wonderful surprise for the wedding couple.
So after a year and the couple haven’t had a baby yet, their friends will show up on their wedding anniversary and they are obliged to throw a feast,let’s say maybe 15 liters of beers ,sausages,and other threats. Pretty simple right?
If Stork bird symbolizes birth & Fertility here in Germany then what happened to the Stork population knowing it’s the only country in Europe which has drastically declining child-birth & has a low birth rate same as Japan? Did the stork migrated to India, Philippines & China? Germany needs more Babies, it’s very clear in statistics and not a mythical opinion.
Have you had any experience of unique Birth traditions?
Did I miss anything from this post? please feel free to comment below, I would love to hear it.
Oktoberfest is the largest of Volksfest celebrated in the whole of Germany ( and of the world) along with travelling carnival and fun fair. For the neighboring cities around Munich,each one has their unique Volksfest. Since 1946, Ingolstadt had its first festival after WW II, and from then on ,there are two major festival to celebrate. One in Spring and one in Fall. I had always been curious what is all about Oktoberfest and all these hustle and bustle about beer. I am not a beer drinker but having been able to see how this beautiful festival is celebrated is probably one of the highlights of my days living as an Expat in Germany.
If you are visiting Germany, you’ve gotta love this! The whole place is so alive and flooded with colorful people wearing their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls waslking in the festive vibe of Volk musik.
Last Friday, September 23, the Volksfest in Ingolstadt started and will last until 3rd of October. As the renowned legendary and traditional ritual of tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest-beer is one of the things that I really looked forward to see, by my own eyes.There is something great about seeing it for real compared to the ones that I only saw in internet. Since 1972, Volksfest in Ingolstadt is held in Volksfestplatz just beside the ZOB.
Volksfest with a toddler? No problem!
Aside from no entrance fee,Volksfest is for the entire family. I was having doubts how would my daughter would behave during this time because of the crowds and the volk-musik was continously played by the stage band. I was quite surprised that Volksfest is kid-friendly. There is something about a father & daughter sharing food, and old couple happily enjoying lunch, and of course, sharing a mug of beer. Volksfest is defintely a disabled-accessible,most especially with people with disabilities and in wheelchairs.
We managed to find the big tent where the tapping of the first barrel of beer would be held. This is known as the “Schottenhamel” beer tent. I found a very nice place directly in front of the beer kegs but my daughter started to get bored and whining. But even if I had to change my position after my husband take her, I still managed to get an arm’s length from the spot were the barrel will be tapped.Soon, the Mayor Dr. Christian Lösel and his entourage arrived and began the ceremony.
As usual, the first thing He spoke into the microphone was “O’zapft is!” ( “It is tapped!”) and wished everyone a peaceful celebration of Volksfest. As protocol demands, the first mug of beer was passed on and with that all the other beer tents could start selling beer as well.
Volksfest has officially started!
Volksfest star of the festivities is the Beer. And oh, the famous Bavarian beer. They’ll serve it to you in a size smaller than a Maß (which is one liter, same as the one in above photo) but if you order anything smaller you’ll be mocked, so don’t. You can also get Radler (half-beer, half-lemonade), water, and soda, but drinking those things is what all the other days of the year are for. Unless you’re a recovering alcoholic! In which case the water and soda are great and Oktoberfest is probably not that fun for you! Waitresses your grandmother’s age will be carrying eight or ten Maß at a time, which is impressive.
Talking about food? You will drool at the sight of food during Volksfest. Order Münchener Weißwurst immediately! Since we are in Bavaria, we soothed our taste buds with threats that is definitely the food for the gods at this time.
My favorite so far is the simple Bratwurst ,fries, and of course,my daughter’s Bretzel! The size of the Pretzel is so huge that we only share a piece. From the cheeses,breads,sausages, roasted chicken, pork slices and grilled meats were also among the favourites. The smell of the food stalls are just heavenly!
Outside was a place of colorful Carnival. One of the highlight was the daring roller coasters, giant Ferris wheel which goes high as 40 meters and gives you rare views of the whole city, children’s carousel, and so much more. I’ve heard that this year, a number of rides were new such as the “Spinning Coaster”, Rollercoaster Crazy Mouse, the rapid jungle giant swing Konga with an altitude of 45 meters and a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, also 4G gravity. All not my kind of fun and not for the faint-hearted! Just looking at it makes me sick, but for others, it is sure a thrill-filled ride.Me and my daughter enjoyed our very first train ride and it was absolutely fun!
The whole fair ground was a full of families, young & adults enjoyed a week-long festivities. It’s not just about drinking beer. It’s a whole more than that. A true legacy that defines German character and culture. Through the years, beer culture of Germany have been attracting so many tourists and now I know why.
I was even more impressed that the security was heightened by checking the bags,the strollers and there are always roaming guards to ensures public safety.Inside the tent was a no-smoking policy is observed and everything is in order even the public bathrooms. Animals are also not allowed inside the Volksfestplatz.
Have you had a taste of Oktoberfest?
How was your experience?
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Yes, you read that right. German women are sexy, and you want to know why, that’s why you’re in this page & want to read , right?
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.
Who says being ‘Sexy‘ need to be complicated. It doesn’t need an elaborate description or a bare-it-all image for you to understand. German women are sexy in their own special, and in their very ‘Au Naturel ‘way. German sexiness doesn’t come by wearing the sky-high stilettos, plunging necklines, tight & form-fitting short dresses and red lipstick. After seeing them everyday, I realized that sexiness isn’t all about baring and flaunting and it is not always the best look.
I hereby declare that these type of shoes are the most Un-German ladies shoes in Germany.
Tell me how in the world can you walk for hours in cobbled streets with these?
Back then in Kuwait, I saw Kuwaiti women always dress in style a.k.a Flaunting and Killing it. Well, there’s nothing wrong about it actually. Muslim women also dressed up in modesty. Women in general ( myself included!) can’t resist to designer bags, shoes, accessories or even the line of make up . The overwhelming mall culture of Kuwait have boomed so much that you can see locals plunged into every bit of fashion statements that is in trend and what’s in around the global fashion. Women that are dressed up in modest Abayasare wearing sky-high stilettos, rocking the heels & wedges while grocery shopping, and full-made-up face while drinking coffee. A day in the life of an “Araba“ is spent in the Avenues, salons ,spas and lounging in coffee shops , clothed & accessorize with LV, Prada and Louboutins. The epitome of a sexy, modern, Kuwaiti women.
In Germany, I saw something different.
German women on the other hand, typically the Bavarian women that I’ve seen, dress conservatively and practical. Instead of luxurious bags & purses, they often carry backpacks. Instead of designer coats, they dress practically in Jack Wolfskin , North Face, or Schöffel . Trading off their stilettos for decent, comfortable and most durable shoes everyday. Do you know Adidas & Puma? They are an icon of street wear here and of course, it’s a German brand, and founded by Bavarians.
They may not looked all dolled-up everyday, but who cares,even sans make-up, they are already envied by the whole world for their features ,fair skin and oh well, they are Germans!
Why in my opinion that German women, especially here in Bavaria deserves this remark as a compliment , Here are my top 5 reasons ;
1.They cycle in style and it’s Sexy
German women can really make an impression while cycling. I love the first time I saw a German lady cycling in a full dress and sandals.Her bike is adorned with little flowers and on the back side is a wooden basket with a loaf of Bread popping out and a bunch of flowers.While women here are very good in cycling in speed, they are also great in multi-tasking. Watch how a mother swirl with her child’s carrier along the woods and you will know.She transmits a lot of self-security to her children because she is full of confidence herself.
Have you ever seen a pregnant woman cycling in stride as if its their normal breathing? Yes, only in Germany.
Do you know why old German ladies never gets boring to watch? Just look how she struts in her bike wearing her Pashmina (scarf) and hat.Growing old is not an excuse for not being active and not hopping the two-wheels.
2.They go out, get fit and enjoy nature and it’s Sexy
Bavarians love to enjoy life. They loved to go hiking or cycling on weekends & holidays. Compared to honking of cars in Kuwait, here in Bavaria, the first sound that I hear that I knew its a great day is the sound of cyclists. Women are no exception.Dressed up in track suit, shorts and comfy shoes,they run and jog,every single day. We lived next to a sports club and I saw German women doing sport just as they drink beer in the Biergarten in the late afternoon. German mothers takes her children for a swim in the swimming pool or just trek into the woods. Instead of spending hours in a mall or salon, they prefer to go outdoors and sweat out.
3.They make it, instead of buying it and it’s Sexy
German women are crafty and artistic. They love crafts and everything in it. It’s a good indication how they manage their time doing this stuff aside from doing their jobs and having kids. I saw so many handmade cards, home-made goodies, cakes & pastries, and self-done craft work like quilts, crochet,and artwork all made by German ladies. My mother-in-law who is Dutch, was a great Crafter too, she likes to make hand-made cards and we have those in every single special occasion,from the moment I got married, when my daughter was born, up to the time we moved into our new place. Everything is personalized. Our neighbor whom I befriended gave us a handmade card too for my daughter’s birthday and I find all these gestures so warm.This European domesticated syndrome is a great thing.
4.They are strong, doing a man’s job & still, they are Sexy
Have you ever ride a bus in Germany? or a delivery truck, or have you ever seen Forklifts & Bulldozer and other heavy machine operators doing the road work & tunnels in Bavaria?
Or do you have a Taxi experience in Germany?
From the world I came from, these type of jobs mentioned above are done mostly by men, but not in Germany. German women shows that they can do tough jobs as men does.Here in Bavaria, I have seen German women doing all these jobs. With their blonde hair and still active physique, they just do it as good as men does.
And lastly, since we are talking about Germans;
5.They drink Beer and stay sober. Even one of the boys, they are still Sexy!
I’m not talking about the wasted moments where ladies get drunk from too much beer and dragging themselves in the bathroom. I’m talking about German women who knows how to enjoy life, and knows exactly what she wants.
What is your definition of sexy?
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Ask any kid during Halloween of which character they wanna be and it is for sure that one of them would shout ‘Frankenstein’. Do you know Frankenstein?
Now who would not know this monster, I think everyone does because it’s as famous as Mickey mouse ,Olaf and Winnie the Pooh. Although this 8 ft. monster is not always favored by babies and toddlers because of its scary face and humongous built, it is for sure a favorite among Halloween parties. Frankenstein the monster becomes a world-wide enigma and is a part of any childhood ( even adults!) since numerous movies and world literature were adapted based on this novel.
I admit that I knew Frankenstein myself, but I never ever imagine that I would live in the place where the setting of this gothic novel is based upon.When I found out about this, I was definitely itching to explore and visit the Álte Anatomie’ in Anatomiestrasse 18-20 in the old city of Ingolstadt. I thought, it could be in Holland , Austria , Switzerland or somewhere else in Europe, but why in Ingolstadt?
Did you know that Ingolstadt is the Birthplace of Frankenstein?
Not many knew but the Frankenstein novel was written by English author Mary Shelley in 1818.From a chapter in her book ,she had named the place where she created the character of Victor Frankenstein in Ingolstadt, here in Bavaria, Germany . Basically, Frankenstein is the name of the mad Doctor who created this monster,and not the monster itself. Eventually, it becomes his identity. For a fact that Shelley has never been to Ingolstadt, and the University is no longer existing during the period that she wrote the novel.This is what I find quite interesting.
This is because Ingolstadt holds a unique and great story that not everyone knows.I myself didn’t know of this , only after I visited the Old Anatomy Building that I’ve learned some fascinating facts that relates to Shelley’s writing.
Do you know about the Illuminati? I only learned about this when I read about Dan Brown’s novels. The University of Ingolstadt produces Johann Adam Weishaupt, a German philosopher, born in Ingolstadt,who gained a Doctorate degree at the age of 20 in 1768. Weishaupt founded in 1776 the academic secret society which included “Illuminati”, the Goethe, Knigge, Herder, Pestalozzi and many other sizes of German intellectual life in the Age of Enlightenment and also Mary’s husband – the famous poet Percy Bisshey-Shelley. Think about a place of thinkers & revolutionaries!
On a closer look, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is the story of Victor Frankenstein, who study Chemistry in the University of Ingolstadt . This renowned university was first opened on July 26, 1472, which from that time was considered to be the medical and scientific center of whole Europe. Ingolstadt university housed the principal establishment specializing in anatomy and biology, The Ingolstadter Alte Anatomie (or the Old Anatomy Building). It has the ultimate “Experimental Building” for medical & scientific research from 18th century! For these reasons, Ingolstadt is the perfcet place for a setting of a Sci-Fi horror novel.
Now this old baroque building is one of the tourist attraction in Ingolstadt which holds an enigma up to this day.
Fast forward to current times, the Deutsches Medizinhistorisches Museum (German Museum of Medical History)shows the unique collection of medical and surgical exhibits from various continents and periods in the “Alte Anatomie” (Old Anatomy). The herb garden- Hortus medico botanicus contains an abundance of around 250 kinds of medicinal plants. The plants are selected firstly on the basis of their historic and present day psychotherapeutic importance and secondly on which drug can be extracted from them. The garden served as a scientific show garden imparting medico-botanical information on a wide range of indigenous and Mediterranean medicinal plants. I found out that some of the plants here are poisonous ( as it was properly labelled) and yet used to create medicine to cure diseases and for study purposes. The whole garden is therapeutic sight, right in the center of the city. I saw the prominent Opium poppy, passion-flower,Jimson weed, and so much more.
In the reception, you will be handed out a remote control and headphones where you can have an audio tour while exploring the Scent and touch garden, which is also accessible for people with disabilities.Included in the renovation was a polished hip cafe just before the entrance of the garden. You can have some bread, pastry, and threats while enjoying a glass of wine, beer or coffee while enjoying the serene garden views.
As we walked through the Anatomiestr. , in the garden and in the extension building,my mind wonders that based from the novel, it is the same streets where the monster walked away and eventually fled into the wilderness. From above you can see theLiebfraunmünstertowers, the old gable rustic houses,and from this location, Ingolstadt still holds a mystery and enigma.
I didn’t see any fragment of the horrific imagery or personification of Frankenstein in the Alte Anatomie but rather a place bound with rich medical history that contributes to the advancement of medical field today. I didn’t know that knowing the story of Frankenstein would lead me to learn about the rich history of the place where we live now. In fact, if you wanted to learn more about the life of Dr.Frankenstein, there is a special tour for this. The story of Frankenstein is something that is only in Ingolstadt & The Frankenstein Mystery Tour is specifically arranged by the Ingolstadt Tourismus and runs from August to October.This is a very interesting one-of a kind tour that you can have in your life if you are fond of such things.
Tell me, what’s your favorite Halloween character?
Have you ever wonder about the stories behind the famous Horror characters that you like?
Happy Halloween everyone! have fun & and don’t forget to follow our Expat stories by clicking the follow button below!