I hope that everyone had an enjoyable (or at the very least tolerable) Christmas.
Christmas in Leipzig has been a lot of fun. Unfortunately snow has been pretty much non-existent besides the odd flurry but there’s been much to enjoy. Weihnachten Market, gluhwein, eating stollen and pfeffer nuse, I’ve really been enjoying Christmas in a cold climate.
Germany has some lovely Christmas traditions with old fashioned religious undertones. First there’s St Nicholas Day on December 6th, Many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolaus boot)outside the front door on the night of 5 December. ‘St. Nicholas’ fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have coal in their shoes instead courtesy of a goat like beast called Krampus.
pic courtesy of Wikipedia
Pretty weird! That said, Eastern Germany in general is not very religious at all. According to friends of mine who lived through DDR times, to be religious was to be viewed with suspicion by the Government and thus subject to increased surveillance. Churches in Leipzig (specifically Nikolai kirsche) were involved in peaceful resistance against the totalitarian state which of course resulted in the Peaceful Revolution of October 1989. But I digress, my point is that many more people are atheist like myself than I’ve met previously so Christmas is more about celebrating friends and family than a religious occasion per se.
It’s become more of a tradition in Australia and the UK to join friends for drinks on Christmas Eve, an occasion we enoyed with some Welsh friends here, although the streets were pretty quiet as the Deutsch traditionally have their gifts and festivities on Christmas Eve (the 24th December). We did our present opening on Christmas Even in Australia when we were young children, more so Mum could enjoy the stress of cooking on Christmas Day without the added bonus of sleep deprivation.
Christmas Day here we enjoyed leftovers from the last Leipzig Apartment Supperclub, tofurkey and Veg Wellington (which we’d frozen) along with roast veggies, red wine gravy and broccoli. Dessert was Christmas Pudding although we were too full to eat it as usual. Quite different to a traditional Weihnachten meal here which usually involves goose, potato salad and cabbage. Far more effort is put into Christmas sweet treats here, we went to Chris’ coworking space Christmas party a couple of weeks ago and despite the time of 6pm, everything was sweet! From chocolate to biscuits to gluhwein. Quite different to the dip, cheese and biscuits of Australian Christmas parties but great fun.
Christmas decorations were kept to a minimum. I used to have lots in Australia but of course these went when we got rid of everything except two suitcases, 5 boxes and two bicycles to move to Germany. And as we’re moving in mid February, we don’t really want any excess baggage.
It’s certainly cold here (-8 today) and I’m waiting/hoping for snow. We’re off to the UK tomorrow for a week to visit friends and relatives. I’m looking forward to hits the cafes and pubs to enjoy fry up and roast dinners that I haven’t had to cook myself! It will also be lovely to spend time with people, and enjoy the novelty of a fully English country (in the sense that I don’t have to mentally translate things). I have to stress the absolute bliss of having central heating. It makes such a difference, especially as our Apartment has excellent insulation and double glazing. I can remember winters in Melbourne where I’d work in bed with gloves and a hat, constantly freezing cold.
It’s with sadness that I write that Mr Pablo is definitely feeling his age these days. As an 18 year old senior kitty he is of course, beyond much medical help and we are trying to make his remaining time with us as warm and comfortable as possible. We’re having a lovely house sitter come and stay when we’re away which certainly is a great relief.
As I finish this, it’s just started snowing!