Monday, December 30, 2013

Silvester in Germany!

Happy New Year! Or Silvester as it is called here. I´ve put together a little FAQ.

Does Silvester mean New Year in German? No. Silvester refers to the Saint. December 31 is his day. Saint Silvester was Pope Silvester I in the fourth century. You can read more about him here. So the day is called Silvester, to say Happy New Year, you wouldn´t say Happy Silvester.

So how do I say Happy New Year in German? " Frohes neues Jahr" or "Prosit Neujahr" or "Ein gutes neues Jahr"for example.

It´s my first Silvester here. What can I expect? Expect it to be LOUD. Really. Warn the children, and make sure your cats and dogs are inside. Folklore states that greeting the New Year loudly will scare away the bad omens from the last year. So, when the clock strikes 12, Church bells will ring, and fireworks will go off.

Do you mean township fireworks? Yes, and no. Yes, some townships and cities have their own fireworks displays. The most famous in Germany being at Berlin´s Brandenburg Gate. But in the days up to December 31 you will start to see fireworks being sold. This year sales began Saturday the 28th, and will end on the 31st. There are three grades of fireworks, with "3" being REALLY close to what we in the States would deem to be municipal grade.

Where are the fireworks shot off? Basically, everywhere. In back yards, in the streets, out windows.

I don´t believe you. Here´s a 2 minute video of last year´s fireworks in Bamberg.

So I can shoot them off anywhere? Check with your local authorities. Here in Bamberg for example, one can´t shoot fireworks off by the Dom, or at the Altenburg castle. Other than that, I believe it is fair game. Again, in Bamberg, they may be set off after sunset on the 31st, and are no longer legal after noon on the 1st............until  next year.

Culinary traditions? Of course! It´s considered good luck to eat Sauerkraut for one, and each piece of cabbage you eat will correspond to a piece of good luck in the coming year (or a € in your pocket, depending on who you believe). Same can be said for lentil, bean, or pea soup.

Eating pig is a sure sign of good luck, but stay away from poultry. Eating chicken or turkey on Silvester is said to make your good luck and good fortune fly away in the new year. (Those this is region specific).

You could do a traditional 'Silvesterkarpfen' or carp. And if you are particularly superstitious, keep a scale in your wallet for the year.

Jelly donuts are traditionally served as the clock strikes midnight.

Increasingly fondue or raclette is being served.

Whatever you decide to eat, be sure to leave some on your plate until after midnight. That ensures you will have enough to eat in the following year.

Gift giving?  How about a Glücksschwein?
Typically made of marzipan, a sign of good luck. Most chocolate or candy stores will have them, some supermarkets as well (check by the register).

Alternatively, a little chimney sweep!I´ve seen these in Tegut, and most flower shops will have them.
Photo: justcallmemausi.blogspot.de



How can I figure out what will happen in the next year? Interested in fortune telling? You have options.

 Bleigießen: One pours molten lead into cold water. The shape that forms tells your future for the year. A flower means new friendship. A ship means you will take a trip. A comprehensive list (in German) is here.

Bibelstechen: Open the Bible to a random page, and with eyes closed randomly point at a passage. That passage is said to offer some insight or advice for the next year.

A pendulum: Ask the pendulum questions. Vertical swinging means no, a circular motion yes.

Are the stores open?  Alas, no. Most stores will close mid-afternoon on the 31st, re-opening on January 2nd.

What´s on TV? Up to HALF of all Germans will be watching "Dinner for One", a 17 minute British comedy. The Local did a great piece on it.

Any other New Year´s traditions here I missed? Tell us in the comments!
-

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dunkin´ Donuts - Erlangen


The very first Dunkin´ Donuts in Bavaria has opened in Erlangen!
Don´t let the line scare you, it actually moved quite quickly.
Located at Untere Karlstrasse 3, less than a 5 minute walk from the train station, they are open 7 days a week. Click here for hours.





 What do they have? The usual breakfast croissant AND BAGEL! sandwiches
Coffees (including bagged, ground coffee, so you can brew their coffee at home!), their website says they have Coolattas (though that may be seasonal, as I didn´t see any!), and, of course, donuts!!!
For their list of donut varieties, see here. You have the usual (Boston Creme, Chocolate Glazed) and the unusual (Green Apple??)
And a few varieties that don´t appear on the website and also had no description. Any idea what the orange  may be? 
I´ve tried American franchises such as Subway here, and been disappointed because they were, well, different.  So I didn´t have high hopes. 

That said, I got a Boston Creme (okay....... 2) and Chocolate Glazed with sprinkles, and they were exactly the Dunkin´ Donuts I´ve had at home. Exactly. 

Note that the website is http://www.dunkin-donuts-bayern.de/ . Not Dunkin´ Donuts Erlangen.They will be opening in Nürnberg and Munich in 2014!
Update: Nurnberg is open! (by the Hauptbahnhof)
A second location in Nürnberg opens March 18, 2014 (Breite Gasse 42)

Have you been yet? What did you think?


Sunday, December 15, 2013

January 2014 - Overview

Note: This is the first of monthly posts I have planned for 2014. My goal is to provide basic information on holidays, local events, things to do, and changes at the supermarket. An overview, if you will.  I am posting this early, in order to gather input. Any and all comments, complaints, additions are welcome!

January 2014

Holidays (Federal or Bavaria specific)

Wednesday, January 1 (New Year´s Day)
Monday, January 6 (Epiphany or Three King´s Day) - Also the traditional day to take down your tree. Check with your town as far as collection dates. It may very well be January 7. A post is planned on this holiday and customs in the next few weeks.

Events (by no means a complete list)

Erlangen
January 12 (Sunday)  Flohmarkt/Trödelmarkt (a larger flea market in the area, fun to putter around)
     Großparkplatz Innenstadt
January 30 - February 6 Erlangen Lichtmessmarkt
      Schloßplatz
 
Nürnberg
January 2 Traumfabrik In Nürnberg for one day only, a music, magic fantasy show. Hard to describe,
     link is to pictures, you can also buy tickets on their site. Highly rated, especially good for
     kids/families.
January 21 Children´s Reading Corner
    DAI 
Ongoing until January 26 The King Tut exhibit is in Nürnberg, Quelle Areal. Link in English.
Ongoing until March Segway Indoor Parcours (suitable for adults and kids 7+)
     An obstacle course........... on Segway´s! 

Other
Berlin Fashion Week (January 14-16)

Other things to do? 

Kick-Fabrik - Nürnberg indoor soccer and mini-golf

Bowling (Google kegeln or bowling and your town´s name)

Though the Christmas markets are over, the Glühwein stands will remain for a few more months!

Visit an indoor pool or sauna- Atlantis is in Herzo, Nürnberg has many to choose from (link in    German), Bamberg has Bambados Can´t decide?  Schwimmbadcheck is an online review site for public pools, link is in English.

Ice Skating- Most cities have somewhere for ice skating (google Eislaufen and your town´s name). Erlangen has completely free ice skating (only a deposit is required for rentals). Info here. Note the rink by Marktplatz closes after 12/26, but is OPEN!!! special hours on the 24th, 25th AND 26th of December.

Winterlaufen - When in Rome, or Germany as the case may be............get out there and take a long walk in the bitter cold invigorating air! Suggestion: Fränkische Schweiz (link in English)

Skiing - It´s not the Alps, but here´s a list of  39 ski areas in Bavaria. Link in English

See your city like a tourist! I´ve been in Bamberg off an on for about 3 years. Embarrassingly enough, I haven´t seen the Nativity Museum, Natural History Museum, or the City Museum. They´re on my list for bitter cold January.

Produce

Produce availability in Germany is VERY seasonal. Want fresh asparagus right now? Not likely.
Want to know when to expect what (of locally grown produce)? Click here  This also includes information about when to plant what in this area of Germany.

Things to hoard stock up on now, as they are going away quickly!
Pomegranates (Granäpfel) - also going away quickly are all related products (yogurts, etc.)
Clementines
Squash -  In the next few weeks, squash such as Hokkaido (closest to our "regular" pumpkins in the US), and butternut start to become harder to find.

Things cropping up (pun intended) ;)
Bitter Oranges
Blood Oranges
Stalk Celery!!!! I have seen some already, imported from Italy
Red Beets
Kale (Grünkohl) - Note: I find the kale here much, much different than kale in the States.

What in the world is that?
Some items you may not be familiar with that you will start to see:
Photo from www.kuechengoetter.de


Schwarzwurzel (Black Salsify)
Want to know what to do with it? Click here! 

Photo from www.kuechengoetter.de
Steckrüben (Turnip or Rutabaga for Americans)
Here´s a case for why you should try it, as well as a few recipes. 


Anything you´d like to add? Leave it in the comments! 





Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas in Germany

Other than the Weihnachtsmarkts, Glühwein and other obvious ways Christmas may be different for you here:

- The date(s!): Those of us in the US are accustomed to opening presents on Christmas morning. By Boxing Day (the 26th), most of us were back to work! In Germany, be prepared for all stores (including grocery stores) to be closed by mid afternoon on the 24th, opening again on the 27th. Gifts are exchanged on the evening of the 24th.The 25th (referred to as the First Day of Christmas) and the 26th (the Second Day of Christmas) are traditionally spent visiting family.

Some restaurants will be open on one or all of the above days, but by all means, call ahead. Make reservations if at all possible, as restaurants will be crowded.

What to do in a pinch? Try a döner shop, gas station, or train station.

- The gifts: While in the US, we tend to buy tons of gifts for our friends and relatives, here that is not expected. Gifts are often home made, and small gestures. When in doubt, a bottle of wine, or something the equivalent of a hostess gift in the US will suffice. More often than not, gifts are exchanged only with family.

- Who brings the gifts?: In the US, Santa brings the gifts, led by his reindeer of course! The Christkind brings the gifts here, under the tree, and stockings are rarely stuffed. By contrast- shoes are! But not on Christmas, rather on the night of December 5, you can read more about that here.

- The tree: The tree does not go up until the morning of the 24th, traditionally, and is taken down on Three Kings Day (January 6th), or even later! on Mariä Lichtmess (the 2nd of February). Nowadays, most people use electric lights on their trees, but it is still not uncommon to find lit candles.

- The Advent Calendar: Most of us are familiar with the chocolate Advent Calendar, with a little piece of chocolate behind each door, to be opened one a day, the 24 days before Christmas. Here? It is also a way to tell time. Advent officially begins the first Sunday after November 26, and you may see signs for an event happening "2. Wochenende Advent" (2nd weekend of Advent) for example. Also, instead of a tree in the weeks before Christmas, many Germans have Advent Wreaths on the table, with four candles, one for each week of Advent, to be lit on Sundays.

- Nativities: Far more nativities are on display here, when compared with the US. Bamberg, where I live, has over 400! That is not a typo. They are also far more intricate, and most are time specific. So, until December 24, you won´t see Jesus in the manger.

- Christmas can be scary! Depending on where you live, you may have Ruprecht or Krampus to contend with! So be on your best behavior boys and girls!

How is Christmas in Germany different from your home country?