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!

Tschüss Kindergarten, Hallo Schultüte!

Tchüss Kindergarten, Hallo Schultüte!

Today is the first day of School here in Bavaria, the southern part of Germany and my daughter finally said Tschüss (Goodbye) to Kindergaten and said “Hallo to her Schultüte”…Sie ist endlich ein Schulkind, finally now that she turned 6, she is finally starting School…

As a parent, this whole new experience is bringing us mixed emotions. Schools are finally reopening—with masks, Abstand ( or distance of min. 1.5 Meters) and strict hygienic concepts and many more other restrictions. For the first time , this is all happening, children are finally back to school, as we also all gone back to work, right on the verge of Corona virus chaos.On the other hand, we are proud parents that our child is having her new milestone, new challenge and definitely making big leaps of growth.But then for the same scary virus, part of me always have this fear and a bag full of worries. Fear of the unknown, because we all know that as long as the virus is still out there, we can never feel safe enough.

But then for most of us, especially in the eyes of the little children…life must go on…

Starting school in Germany with a big “Schultüte” or School cone

As an Expat mama, I am sharing this special post because here in Germany, I have seen something else. Something unique, something worthy of sharing . Something that I have never seen in my homeland or in any parts of Europe. Here, children starts school with a “Schultüte” or simply a School cone! This is totally German, and every single child here who enters the first grade in school must bring one on his/her first day of school. That is why this day is so special and celebrated !

What is a ” Schultüte” ?

Schultüte is actually a “Zuckertüte” or sweetbag ,or rather cone. A paper cone full of sweet surprises, like a big fat Christmas socks that is stuff with gifts! I have read that Shultüte is an old German tradition way back since 1810. First stories about Schultüte starts in Jena, Leipzig and Dresden so mainly on the Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia areas in Germany.But then nowadays, this nationwide tradition is widely celebrated by all children whoare about to start school in Germany.

The school normally starts on the 1st week of September, right after a long Summer break. On the first day, you will notice that the streets is filled with children (along with their parents) carrying this huge cone and their trendy Schulranzen (Backpacks). That is really a lovely sight to watch. Most of the time, parents are as excited as their kids!

Why German Schulranzen is Unique?

The Backpack and the School cone (Schultüte)

Here in Germany, Backpacks or Schulranzen says it all. I never imagined that Backpacks were that important here.I remember when I was young, many children does not need to have new things for school, but here…forget it, Schulranzen is very important, let alone expensive! Every child needs to have a decent Schulranzen. It´s like their weapon for their next battle.

But it looks to bulky and heavy…and how can they carry it while riding their bikes? “

Schulranzen is an important matter for every first grade children here in Germany.The backpack must be for functional use, compact, stable ,and will not hurt their backs ! ( Very important!) It is an important factor when buying one is that papers don´t get bent, and snacks dont get squished! Think about German mentality and perfection in every single thing. To give you an idea what children needs on their first grade, take a look at the photos below. This will give you an idea what you need to prepare aside from the Schultüte on the first day of school! This is the list that we´ve got from the School and bought!

With this, you might have an idea that starting school means you will spend probably hundreds and hundreds of Euros, all for a good start.My daughter chose her own design for her Schultüte, which happened to match her Schulranzen.

For me persoally ,the start of school in Germany is quite special. Yesterday we had a simple mass in the church for the first graders to be blessed, and today, they are rewarded with their own Schültute.They have the whole day to enjoy it. Schultüte is filled with many things that brings every 6 year old child loves. Normally it is filled with things that they can use at school like pencils, small stickers, notebooks, or stickers and so much more.It can be filled with small toys, sweets and many other “wished items”. The list are endless.

Since she adores Lego and Ninjago, we´ve had plenty of ideas what to put in her Schultüte!

The thing is, what I love about it is that it really creates that element of excitement and surprise to children.You can really see their eyes get wide full of excitement! My daughter cannot even wait to unpack it all! I think this is very important on their first day in school, a good start is always better than pressure. Instead of directly going to lessons, the children can still enjoy a relaxed first day of school, and of course, enjoying their hard earned sweet threats from their Schultüte.

Here in Germany, months before the school starts, many shops already sells different kinds of Schultüte. You can also make and decorate your own, just like we did. Many schultüte can also be ordered online especially now because of Corona Virus.For us, I just ordered the materials and we did it together with my daughter.

Personalized Schultüte is far by the best!It is far memorable…

Today I have seen that this event is really celebrated by the whole family.Not only parents are present in school but I saw Grandparents and other relatives who were there to celebrate with their child.It is indeed a big thing here.

Starting elementary school in Germany leaves me quite an impression.This is totally non -existent way back in our times where we started Grade 1.I must say that here, it looks like a birthday, or a big family reunion since parents invest so much on this special day. Most parents even take this day as a day off to be with their child on their first day in school.My daughter already spent 3 years in the Kindergarten alone, but then I know, starting school is a big adjustment to her.

Maybe that is why Schultüte signals a new phase–a new life full of surprises!

A Day to remember

This day is really a day to remember.In other parts of the world, people are starting school virtually, and online learning is the solution, a safer way to learn. But here in Germany, we are moving slowly to make things normal, but with strict caution, especially to not stop children from getting into school, the real way.Many children I see posed on their first day wearing a headset and in front of a computer, well, I am not against it. In the end, we all want the best for our children…

1516 Beer Purity Law (Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot)

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In Ingolstadt, we always have a reason to celebrate and say “Prost!” or Cheers!

Let me tell you something, I don’t know anything about beer. I am not a heavy drinker as well and I am too old to frequent bars and clubs for randy drinking! But since I came to Germany, I got somehow “educated” about German culture and yes, about their beer drinking culture. I realized that drinking beer is not just a pastime to get drunk and get wasted, or worst, wake up to a stingy hangover. I was totally mistaken…

Here’s how Beer changed my view ;

I live in a town where not only the sleek Audi cars rule the streets, but also a town full of fun-loving Bavarians and Ausländers ( or Foreigners)  who loves to drink beer. It’s a lifestyle here, a culture, a tradition and a way of LIFE. It’s like a passion everyday, people here have a reason to always celebrate and sit with friends in the Biergartens and of course, its not complete without  a Beer! It doesn´t matter what´s your skin color! Nowadays I even see many foreigners with different skin color and ethnicity loving this cozy tradition. During Volkfests and Oktoberfest, they wear Dirndls and Lederhosen, gulping a big mouthful of Beer. I have written about this in so many posts here in my Blog and this one is not an exception, after all, this is a expat-lifestyle Blog so I love to write so many crazy, unique and one of a kind Expat experiences!

Wilkommen in Bayern, that’s what my neighbors say.I think everyone who moves to Germany can relate to this. In Germany, beer is a F-O-O-D, and not an alcoholic drink. I learned this from my Deutsch teacher. That only means that here in Bayern, Beer [ das Bier] is considered as important as staple foods such as bread. Speaking of bread, Germans have a wonderful world of bread. It’s also another culture but I’m not going to talk more about breads since this post is intended for beer.I hope to finish my draft post about Breads so you would know as well why I am a total convert as well with regards to Bread.

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Hops , And from these came the world famous Bavarian Beer

I have to agree that after almost 2 years of living  here, I am convinced that Bavarian beer is  among the best in the world. It is in fact a “No wonder”. Since 1516, for centuries now, this amber golden liquid has been brewed from nothing other than barley, hops and water of the highest quality.  Duke William IV issued a decree for the Bavarian Purity Law in 1516 at a meeting of the Bavarian Estates in Ingolstadt. The ruling was proclaimed in the spacious courtyard of the Neues Schloss and extended the existing brewing regulations to the whole of Bavaria.

And to think that I don’t know anything about Hops!
For beer brewing, hops are so important because they add spice, durability and, last but not least, lather to the drink. But in hops  is  so much more! This creeper plant  contains a resin with valuable bitter substances and essential oils. They are also used as Arnzei and help with loss of appetite, stomach weakness and restlessness. Hops generally have a calming effect but stimulate the metabolism! Because I am so eager to learn more about Beer, we decided to visit a Brewery and of course….the Hop fields! You can see it in my separate posts about this wonderful experience.I hope to return to the Hop fields soon and be engrossed more!

Last month, I attended a private Stadt führung (an organized tour)  and our Tour Guide explained to us that in the early days, people are getting sick from drinking beer. Not only getting highly intoxicated but for longer times of drinking, its quite unhealthy. Up in the north of Germany, there are rumors that they are adding intoxicating herbs in their brew that’s why they came up with Beer Purity Law. So you see, be it consumer protection or not, Germans not only wants to enjoy drinking beer, they also take care of what they drink, making sure it does not damage the health.

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My Little Sunshine enjoying the Beer Fest last April and gamely posing beside the Bier brunnen (Beer Fountain).

My husband attends a Beer Tour almost every year together with friends. Our city ohrganized a yearly Beer festival and they´ve had the chance to try different types of Beer from different breweries. So when it comes to variations, I think he knows better than me.What I am trying to say is,that beer drinking in Germany is not a vice, its history tells me that this liquid gold is part of this generation and continues to be a distinctive facet of German culture.

If you are patient enough to dig in to facts and figures, then you can have a wide read about the Beer Purity Law . But to give you an excerpt, in short, the apex of the 1516 Beer Purity Law states :

“In particular we decree that from now on, no ingredients other than barley, hops and water are to be used in all beers in all our towns and markets as well as in the country.”

Bier ist unter den Getränken das nützlichste, unter den Arzneien das schmackhafteste und unter den Nahrungsmitteln das angenehmste.” 
{Plutarch}

or in English ;

“Beer is the most useful among the drinks, the tastiest among the medicines and the most pleasant among the foods.”
{Plutarch}

What is so interesting to know that half of the world might not know this but Beer here in Bavaria is actually made from finest ingredients.Water, hops, malt and yeast. These are the ingredients prescribed in the Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot which are predominantly essentials in  brewing beer. The plus points:  these ingredients not only provide a tasty result, but also provide valuable ingredients.

Every year, we have 2 major feasts here. The Frühlingsfest and the Herbsfest. In this time we have the traditional Volksfest where Beer tents are laid for 2 weeks just like the major Oktoberfest in Munich. On a typical day, like on Weekend markets, the market square in the city center is always filled with locals enjoying this tradition.

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Yes, we have Beer Queens as well!

From April 27~29, we had our “Fest zum Reinen Bier” and we watched the reenactment or “Die Ausfuhrung des Reinheitsgebot 1516 “. What is so exciting about this historical event is that the declaration of the law was read  at exactly 15:16 hours, or 3:15 in the afternoon.The festivity started with a colorful parade and lead up to the Beer exhibition tents  near the Hohe Schule and to the Bier brunnen. On the following days, a series of “Walking Act”through the Dollstrasse, Roseneckstrasse  and Kanalstrasse was made.All tables are full of people, visitors, and families enjoying beer .

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Bavarians always parading in style.

This event was filled of many fascinating programs.I find it quite cool because they always have something for adults and children so the parents can enjoy time while kids are playing.There’s also the Probierführung 1516 ( or the Beer Tasting) organized by the top Breweries where participants can learn more of the history of Beer brewing and sample a taste of different types of Beer.

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Fest zum Reinen Bier 2018, Ingolstadt, Germany

Classical performances by different bands and talented artists graced the event with their musicals and concerts.It is really a Festive event here.Every year is never the same and I am being fascinated every single time that I witness it.

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1516 Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot or Beer Purity Law in Ingolstadt, Germany

The Georgitag, which happens on Monday, April 23 was the actual date of announcing the most important Food Law probably in the whole world here in Ingolstadt.On this day, almost 100 Liters of Beer flows from the fountain for everyone to enjoy! FOR FREE! Two of the major breweries here in Ingolstadt, the Herrnbräu and Nordbräu sponsored this wonderful event.

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More free beer please!

I am not a heavy beer drinker, but what I like about this culture is  the “gemutlich ” or the coziness it brings. It’s always lovely to see people dressed up in Lederhose and Dirndls and having a festive mood no matter what your status in life. Germans still rides their bikes after drinking beer and I find that outstanding!

On the health side, its good to know that drinking beer also has proven to be a means of preventing osteoporosis, it reduces the risk of getting kidney stones and its blood-thinning effect affects strokes. The important thing is an “appropriate and moderate drinking pattern”. Those who consume about 0.5 to 1 liter of beer a day in connection with food achieve, on average, the greatest health-promoting effect.

So what happens when you enjoy the Beer culture? This photo of my daughter says it all.

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My daughter in one of this Beer festivities…Fully Integrated, fully enjoyed!

When you have the chance to visit Germany, you should try it yourself and have a taste of the authentic Bavarian beer, and don’t forget, when you say “Prost!” (Cheers) , you should have an eye contact with people you drink with!

Until next time on my Bavarian stories, Dankeschön and Tschüss!