Let’s play Holiday Season Tag!

Sherbet and Sparkles

Charlotte over at Sherbet and Sparkles tagged me in this little game that she made up. Like me, Charlotte is a British girl living in Germany and she was interested in finding out how other people who are living somewhere other than their home country spend November and December… and so Holiday Season Tag was born. The idea is very simple… answer the questions then persuade fellow bloggers to join in. Got that? Then let’s go! First of all, my answers:

1. Do people celebrate anything at this time of year where you are? Are there any special customs?

In many ways, the Germans are the masters of Christmas! First of all, there are the Christmas markets. These are so good that, in recent years, they’ve even started popping up all over Britain! And imitation is the greatest form of flattery (or however the saying goes), after all. Nothing can chase away the blues of a damp, cold November better than a giant sausage and a Glühwein (or several) at the local Weihnachtsmarkt! Then there are the stands selling all kinds of things… from handmade soaps to Christmas tree ornaments, sweets, wooden toys, jewellery… I like looking around all the stall almost as much as the Glühwein!

Another thing the Germans do well is Christmas treats. I think most people know about Lebkuchen by now, but there are also Vanillekipferln (vanilla flavoured soft shortbready type biscuits (cookies) shaped like little moons), “Christmas” chocolate, such as the one by Lindt that I am drooling just thinking about, Nussecken, and – my favourite – Dominos. These have a soft Lebkuchen (gingerbread) base followed by a layer of fruit jam/jelly stuff (similar to the middle of Jaffa Cakes) and finally a layer of marzipan. The whole thing is then covered in chocolate. They are seriously addictive and I’ve actually had to ban myself from buying any before November. If I didn’t, I would eat nothing but Dominos from September to January…

Something that I didn’t know at all before coming to Germany is Nikolaustag. During the night from 5-6 December, St Nicolaus comes round to people’s houses and fills children’s shoes with sweets and small gifts… if they’ve been good! Apparantly bad children get a lump of coal, although I doubt that ever happens. Nikolaus has never filled my shoe with treats, but I do usually get a chocolate Santa from work on Nikolaustag.

Finally, something that shocked me when I first came to Germany is that Christmas here happens on 24 December! It still seems odd to me that Father Christmas comes in the afternoon, when everybody is awake. Also, it’s not always Father Christmas (or the Weihnachtsmann as he’s called in German) who delivers the presents. My boyfriend’s family had the Weihnachtsmann, but in other families – especially Catholic ones – it’s the Christkind, or baby Jesus, who brings the presents.

Phew, sorry that was so long! On to the next question…

2. Do you feel that you are missing out on anything by not being in your home country around the holidays?

Apart from the obvious fact that I don’t get to see my family, not really. Actually, Christmas at my dad’s house was pretty low key for a long time after my step mum died (on Christmas Eve). It’s only since my little brother has started to understand what’s going on that things have become a bit more festive again. I used to miss my Christmas dinner, but since I’ve started making one for friends a few weeks before Christmas I no longer feel deprived.

3. Do you go back home at all?

It depends. This year I am because I spent the last two years in Germany so I promised my grandparents that I would spend Christmas in England this time. I hope it won’t be as stressful as the last time I tried to go home for Christmas, when half of Europe’s airports were closed because of the snow! Annoyingly, both the airport I was flying from and my destination were open… but every one of the places we could have changed planes was closed… and there are no direct flights to Newcastle from here.

4. Back to your expat country! What’s the weather like during the holidays?

Cold! I’m actually lucky in that I live in one of the warmest parts of Germany, but it still tends to get colder than back home… and I come from probably the coldest part of England! So far, it’s not too bad here and the forecast is telling me we’ll be seeing daytime highs of around 3–4°C (roughly 37–39°F) over the next few days, but I fully expect it to get into the minus figures (°C) at some point. There will probably be snow as well once we get towards mid-December – in other parts of Germany, the snow has already started!

5. Is there anything you’d recommend a visitor do/see/have if they are visiting your expat country around this time?

Obviously the Christmas markets. I can’t possibly praise them enough! Even if alcohol is not your thing, you can grab a warm fruit punch or a hot chocolate and soak up the festive atmosphere.

BONUS! Post a photo that best shows what it’s like in your expat country around the holidays.

Snow at Karlsruhe Weihnachtsmarkt, December 2012
Snow at Karlsruhe Weihnachtsmarkt, December 2012

I would love to hear all about your experiences of the holiday season, so I tag everyone… but especially Lady of the Cakes, Expat Eye on Latvia (because I need to know whether Latvians are as Grinch-like about Christmas as everything else), Sara in Le Petit Village,  Molly from The Move to America, Katrin from Land of Candycanes and Deanna of From Casinos to Castles.

For ease of copying and pasting, here are all the questions together:

1. Do people celebrate anything at this time of year where you are? Are there any special customs?

2. Do you feel that you are missing out on anything by not being in your home country around the holidays?

3. Do you go back home at all?

4. Back to your expat country! What’s the weather like during the holidays?

5. Is there anything you’d recommend a visitor do/see/have if they are visiting your expat country around this time?

BONUS! Post a photo that best shows what it’s like in your expat country around the holidays.

Now go grab the button from Charlotte’s post on Sherbet and Sparkles and let’s play!

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Let’s play Holiday Season Tag!

  1. Dominosteine!!!!! They are my absolute all time favourite ever. I can buy them in Spain, Lidl has them 🙂
    And a lump of coal? You should be so lucky! I Bavaria, the Nikolaus comes accompanied by the black-clad Krampus, who stuffs all the bad children into his sack and takes them the woods. I leave the rest to your imagination. Or rather, the imagination of a five-yr old.

    I’m not a Christmas fan. In fact, I can’t wait till it’s over. Drags out forever in Spain, because they don’t get their presents till Jan 6th, delivered by the three kings (aka the wise men).

    1. I don’t like Christmas itself (toooo expensive, and I hate enforced cheerfulness!), but Dominosteine and Glühwein kind of make up for it. And I do like Christmas dinner.

      They had Krampus in Austria as well, but I’ve never heard of him in this part of Germany…

  2. Airports in the winter are the worst! I never plan to go back to New York for christmas because it normally snows and storms and is an absolute nightmare. I had to get back from NZ for christmas because my grandma got sick once and it was cancelled flight after cancelled flight. I’d prefer to visit in the summer when the weather is much better. Sounds like Germany is the king of Christmas festivities!

  3. I would love to spend a Christmas in Germany! I spent a few weeks in Germany in the summer and it was beautiful, so I’d love to see how festive the country becomes for the holiday season. When I lived in Chicago, I went to the Christkindlmarket which I LOVED so I can only imagine how much more awesome something similar in Germany would be.

  4. Thank you so much for tagging me! It was so much fun to read your answers and I can’t wait to do the same! I hope I can find the time over the weekend!
    Weihnachtsmärkte are definitely awesome. And I love the German Weihnachtsplätzchen!

  5. Whaaat in Bremen last year it was still snowless in December! It probably came mid-January, instead of mid-December. Not sure about this year, but it’s probably the same… I hate cold without snow! I mean, if it’s cold but there’s snow, I think the snow compensates for it…
    So glad I’m not the only one who thinks Germany is colder than some other places on the same latitude! I lived in Minnesota, which is probably one of the coldest places in the US besides Alaska, and I definitely think Germany is colder!

Leave a comment so I know you stopped by!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s