Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Time in Germany

Pictures: The first is of an epic battle between America and Finland in Brandenburg. Or as I like to call it- the Brunettes vs. the Blonds. The second is of the American exchange students attempting to reenact a patriotic photo. The third picture is my advents calendar (made by my Host Mom). The 4th is my host sister, Caro, trying to master the art of cotton candy making at a school Weihnachtsmarkt.

By the way, I'm posting this on December 16th, so don't look at the date. It lies.

Let me start off by saying that Christmas season starts in like September here. But starting the 1st of December it's in full blast. Which is strange for me, because absolutely no one in my school celebrates Christmas because they are either Muslim or Buddhist (interesting fact: the other day our history teacher took a poll of how many languages were spoken fluently in our class. We came out with 9 languages in our class of 22 people: German, Turkish, French, Afrikaans, Sorbish, Thai, English, Polish, and Russian). Guess that leaves more Christmas for me!

This word meant nothing to me in America but everyone celebrates it here. I assumed advent just meant the chocolates I eat out of a calendar : D But its actually when you celebrate the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas. You light a candle for each Sunday and have a nice lunch such as duck. Other than that, I'm not aware of the significance.

So I woke up on the first of December. I turned on my light, stumbled to the bathroom, washed my face, walked back. And what the hell? There a GIGANTIC mobile hanging over my bed that I absolutely failed to notice in my first-minutes-awake-grogginess. It has 25 gifts hanging from it just for me. This further proves not to demand any mental activity from Claire in the morning.

WEIHNACHTSMARKT: These are a gigantic part of xmas in Germany, and they assume that everyone has them. They are set up in town centers, with hundreds of huts selling hand made items. I've gone to three different ones, although I believe theres about 20 just in Berlin. Some are so large that they hold legit rides such as ferris wheels, roller coasters, and much more. I went with other exchange students to the Alexanderplatz one and went on a GIGANTIC chairswing in the middle of Berlin, we could see the whole city from the top and tried ignoring the -1 degree weather.

St. Nikolais- I spelled this wrong. Whatever. But this is on the 6th of December. You clean your shoes the night of the 5th, and put them outside. Then in the morning you wake up, and they are filled with small gifts and candy delivered from not-your-parents. I, unfortunately, missed this holiday due to the fact I was in Brandenburg for the weekend with AFSers, but magically my shoes were still filled with candy...freaky.

Random Quotes:

Claire: Alright, goal: not have the guy taking my order talk to me in English.
Jasmine: Alright, go!
Claire: " Ein Grande Choco latte bitte"
Starbucks Man: With cream?
Claire: Fucking shit.

Claire: I actually need grades in your gym class Frau Butke.
Frau B: Oh, well I didn't give you a grade last time cause it was really horrible.
Claire: Well...thanks.

Grandma: These truffles are very special.
Host Sister: Whats inside them? Marzipan?
Grandma: No, it's Irish cream!
Host Sister: What's that?
* everyone turns to me *
Claire: I'm not Irish, by the way.

English Teacher: In the dictionary, it shows whether its Australian, British, or American English.
English Teacher: So Claire, could you please pronounce the british pronunciation of this word for us?
* thinks of objecting for a second and then pulls her best accent based only off of what she's heard in Harry Potter*
English Class: Wow!

Host Sister: What's relish?
Claire: It's like pickles and salad.
Random Woman: No, it's like ketchup.
Claire: Sure.

Math Teacher: Give me real life examples of parabolas
Kid 1: a tongue.
Kid 2: a bridge.
Quiet boy in class: A tampon!!

So, yeah. I'm spending Christmas break in Stuttgart with my blood aunt, uncle, and cousins. School lets out the 18th and I go back on the 3rd of January. Christmas is actually celebrated on the 24th in Germany, which means my Christmas day (spent on a 6 hour train to Stuttgart) will be sort of...lame, for lack of a better word. They also all put up their trees on the 23rd...crazy amount of work for nothing?! Yes, I think so. And shortly, things I'll miss from xmas at home:

1. My father and I gorging ourselves with the "special Christmas cheese"<---this makes it sound like it has pot in it or something, but its just good.

2. My place on our couch where I sit every xmas.

3. Spanish christmas music mixed with a little Elvis.

4. Using my gifts immediately after finishing opening them.

5. My father napping on the couch after the excitement of Christmas morning.

6. Some exchange of bras as awkward gifts either to me from my older brothers (in size EEE by the way) or from me to my older brothers (in the brightest colors and smallest sizes available)

Happy Holidays everyone!

P.S. Thanks Colin for the Christmas card, it made my day : D

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