German Word of the Day: das Mispelchen (Alcoholic Drink Served with Orange-colored Fruit in Pubs Around Frankfurt)

Over the Christmas holidays, we had a visitor here from London, who showed me some photos taken in a local pub (here in Oberursel). It showed a big jar of orange-colored looking fruit sitting on the counter, and when she asked the bartender what type of fruit it was, he said it was similar to a pear.

Well, it is a Mispel (medlar). And when it becomes a drink, then it turns into a Mispelchen (small medlar).


The Mispelchen is a Hessian beverage specialty, which is mostly served in apple wine pubs around Frankfurt. This alcoholic drink is a combination of Calvados brandy and a marinated fruit, the so-called Mispel. 

But for this drink, the Japanese Wollmispel is used instead of the locally grown Mispel. 

The Japanese one actually does not belong to the Mispel family. It has a sweet and sour taste, and its aroma is mildly reminiscent of an apple or a peach.

Public Christmas Trees around Oberursel

About two weeks ago, I spotted this lovely little Christmas tree in our northern part of Oberursel. Since then, I have found out that this is an initiative organized by the city of Oberursel.

70 trees have been distributed throughout the town. Various shops, clubs, kindergartens, etc. have taken on the task of decorating the trees.

The initiative runs by the name TanneUffDieGass (Hessian German for: Pine in the Alley)

This is ours in Oberursel Nord. To make them climate-friendly, the potted trees can be replanted later, and to conserve energy, they shine without electric lights.

Buying a Christmas Tree in Germany

This afternoon, we drove up towards the Feldberg Mountain in the Taunus to buy our Christmas tree.

Driving towards the Feldberg/Tausnus

There are various types to choose from, but we always get a Nordmann Tanne (Nordmann fir).

My better half does need some time to choose the perfect one. That is where we differ, but we have survived 32 years of that. The helper was quite patient with us, and held up various trees to compare. I did leave him with a tip though for all his patience and good humor. Told him it was not Trinkgeld (lit: drinking money = tip), but in regards to the current climate, it was meant as Heizungsgeld (lit: heating money).

This is our tree going into the funnel, this means getting wrapped for transportation.

Last trimmings to insure a safe transportation in our car. This Nordmann fir was €65, and this was the same price as last year. This is one of the few items which hasn’t gone up in price.

I would prefer a small potted tree which could be reused every year. A big cut tree like ours has to get tossed every year after 6 January when the tree pickup truck comes by.

Traditionally, most Germans put up their tree in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and keep it until Three Kings Day, 6 Jan. Then we move it to the designated pick-up spot on the sidewalk. We toss ours from the 4th storey balcony, and in our case, the Hausmeister drags it to the designated spot then.

The Significance of the Martinsgans or Martinmas Goose

Martin was a pious man who lived in the town of Tours, and its residents held him in high honor for his caring and willingness to help. In the year 371 (or 372), the residents wanted him to become Bishop of Tours, but being the modest man he was, he shied away from this high position. He decided to hide in the goose shed instead.

But the geese were clucking so loudly around Martin, that the town folks soon found him. Soon after, he was made Bishop of Tours.

The custom of eating Martinsgans (a.k.a. Martinmas Goose) on St. Martin’s Day has another reason as well.

In the farmers’ calendar, the day of St. Martin (11 November) has always been a special day. On that day, the farmers’ fiscal year ended. Therefore, wages, interest, and taxes were due, and animals got butchered. Often, interest was paid in the form of natural goods, such as geese. That way, they did not have to get fed through the winter time, and were served on St. Martin’s Day instead.

In addition, after 11 Nov (nowadays, the official beginning of the Fasching season), a strict time of fasting began towards Christmas. That way, people had the chance to have a last feast before fasting for the following six weeks up to Christmas.

Former U.S. Army Garrison in Heidelberg

Two weeks ago, we were invited to a friend’s birthday party in Heidelberg. As we drove around looking for the party location between Schwindstraße and Feuerbachstraße, I noticed a building with a four-digit number. Of course, this had to be a former U.S. building number left over from the army occupation.

German house numbers generally do not go over two digits.

This building was still standing as of 25 September 2022 (the day of our visit).

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