2010 was certainly a whirlwind year. The last 3 (almost 4!) months in Germany have been quite an experience – personally and professionally. Here are some updates on major holidays in the last 3 months:
Halloween: We spent Halloween on the American base in Katterbach. My friend from jr. high school and his family are there and we were able to go trick-or-treating with them. It’s a little piece of America in Germany – the stores take dollars and import items from the U.S. (ahem gum and Kit-Kat), there’s a Bank of America – you wouldn’t even know you were in Germany. It helps take the edge off of being homesick sometimes and I am grateful for the time we can spend with him and his family.
Here’s a photo of Darren and his beautiful daughter, along with another friend from Halloween. There were about 4 different Marios and Luigis that night, which was hysterical. I didn’t even know they were making a comeback.
Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest): I went back to the U.S. for a business trip that just happened to coincide with Thanksgiving – perfect timing for stuffing my belly! I’m lucky to have family in Chicago, so I was able to spend the holiday with them. It’s great to see family you haven’t seen in years – especially when it’s my family! It was a beautiful blend of Southern cooking mixed with Chinese Jamaicans.
Being back in America was a very emotional experience for me. There were things I didn’t even realized I missed until I realized they were suddenly available again. I wanted to watch TV all the time – even shows I never watched before. I was just ecstatic to understand what they were saying. Another major advantage was being in town for Black Friday. Clothing is so cheap compared the items in Germany (perhaps the material is too, this is still up for discussion). I like to think my colleagues and I helped revitalize the American economy during our time there – the dollar strengthened against the euro and has increased in value since.
Merry Christmas (Frohe Weihnachten): This was my first Christmas in Germany and I was very excited to devour all the food I’ve heard about for weeks. We ate heavily for 3 days straight and I am certain I gained about 15 lbs during this short time. On the 24 (which is technically Christmas here), we had käse fondue (cheese fondue). This was the fanciest fondue I ever had – with alcohol (wine and cherry liquor) incorporated into the cheese and well worth the wait. Ever since I met my fiancé, he raved about his mom’s Christmas fondue and now I know why.
The next day we joined the neighbor downstairs for a goose feast! Gänsebraten or roasted goose is one of the traditional meals Germans often enjoy on Christmas day. We enjoyed the goose with potato dumplings and red cabbage. I could barely move, but it was so tasty. Goose reminds me of duck, but it’s not as tender.
For “the day after Christmas,” his dad made Rouladen, which is meat rolled with pickles, onions and mustard. I thought I couldn’t eat anymore after the gluttony fest from the previous two days, but I managed to devour some more food.
I also mentioned the unusual amount of snow we were having in Germany. The holidays were no exception. It started on Christmas Eve and continued well into New Year’s Eve…
New Year’s Eve (Silvester): Happy New Year! (Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr! – this literally means “a good slide into the New Year”). I spent New Year’s Eve in Germany in 2008, so I was already mentally prepared for the fireworks show that rivals Macy’s 4th of July spectacular (I’m kidding; it’s not even close to Macy’s). On New Year’s Eve, we left our apartment to do some last minute shopping for fireworks. My fiancé is known for his love of fireworks, which we couldn’t really experience in the U.S. due to bans in the states we spent the most time in (PA and NY). I have to admit it is a lot of fun to light your own fireworks and watch them display an entertaining light show. I don’t know how many fireworks we set off that night, but you can see from the photo we had rockets lined up in the snow ready to go. There are so many different types of fireworks as well. My favorite ones are the bees and frogs. The bees fly around in different and the frogs leap on the floor. This year we also bought “Silver and Gold Rain,” which are long sticks you can light and a beautiful display of light comes out.
We also used Kinder Eggs to help tell our fortune for 2011, putting a twist on another German tradition. “Lead Pouring” (Bleigießen) is something I still haven’t tried, but have heard about a lot. Instead we let the toys from the Kinder Eggs give some insight into our futures. I’m not so sure how useful this is, especially since I got an ugly blue monster. My fiancé got a tiny beaver which I still can’t interpret. Other than being disappointed in the toy, the chocolate was delish, so I didn’t dwell on it too much.
All in all, I enjoyed my first winter holiday season in Germany and spoke to my family often. I would have loved to feast on my mom’s cooking, especially when she was telling me everything she cooked, but it’s something to look forward to the next time I’m home.