Write a Letter to Christkind in Germany

If you believe in the Christkind, then send your letter to Himmelpforten, a small town west of Hamburg in the district of Stade in Lower Saxony.

You may start  your letter with ‘Dear Christkind’ or ‘Dear Santa’ (much less common). Here in Germany (mostly the central and southern part) as well as Austria, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Slovakia and Switzerland, children get their presents from the Christkind on Christmas Eve. The word Christkind translates to Christ Child. If you write from northern Germany, you might address your letter to the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
 

Frohe Weihnachten!

The post office in Himmelpforten, which translates to Heaven’s Gates, will process your wish list. I don’t know if you get anything from your list, this depends on whether you’ve been good or bad. 🙂
The post office lets you address your letter to either one of them, both the Christkind and the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
An das Christkind
21709 Himmelpforten
But the address in itself, says: To the Christkind
No worries, if you don’t know German. Most Germans, placed in a professional setting, can handle letters written in English too.
In German, children write a Wunschzettel (wish list) to the Christkind (or Weihnachtsmann), which is a much more direct statement than just ‘writing a letter’ to Santa.

German Lesson: der Schießstand

What connection do the Oberstedten/Oberursel Shooting Range Club (Schützenverein) and our current Tax and Revenue Office in Bad Homburg have in common? There is one, and it will take us back to WWII.

First, there is this sign at the corner of the road ‘Im Rosengärtchen’ and ‘Forsthausweg’ with that particular Schießstand located at Forsthausweg 9 (towards the animal shelter). This Schießstand is only about a three-minute walk away from the main road. I must have passed this many times without knowing it.

Schießstand

The sign reminded me of the Schützenvereinfest (shooting club fest), located further into the forest towards Oberstedten, which we went to on Christ Ascension Day, a public holiday, which also happens to be Father’s Day in Germany. We go there every year.

On that day, the Schützenverein serve homemade salads, the young ones are behind the grill, occasionally they have a band playing, and the elderly ladies run the cake stand in the back of the club.

Two weeks ago, we were there again with our French family in town. It was interesting to see no indication whatsoever of its club purpose at their fest. Just beer on the table, happy people on benches, the smell of barbecued Bratwurst, and kids running around.

Schützenverein

When the club manager heard, we had brought Parisians to this little fest, he came out to share a bit more about this place.

This shooting range was used for training by soldiers stationed in Bad Homburg during WWII. They’d walk from Bad Homburg through the village of Oberstedten to get to the shooting range. Their military barracks were located what is now the Tax and Revenue Office (Finanzamt) on the Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade.

Well, major renovations at the Tax and Revenue Office have been underway since January 2016, and so it has temporarily moved to Norsk-Data-Straße 1, in Ober-Eschbach. The restoration should be completed by late 2017. Add at least another six months, since after all, this is Germany, where any form of construction generally takes longer.

Vocabulary: der Schießstand: schießen (to shoot) + der Stand (stand/range)

Be mindful of the pronunciation. In German, when you have a double vowel such as ‘ie’, you’d pronounce the second vowel ‘e’ (a long e in English) only.

If you mispronounce it, and say it with a long ‘i’ instead, you get ‘scheißen’, which is something completely different.

How to Address a Woman

After having read Key’s Corner most recent post International? Not us Mate! about the difficulty of some international companies getting the mailing address right in Germany, it got me thinking  of my husband’s aunt who still addresses envelopes to me in a queer way. From her perspective, I have no name, as her letters are addressed to me in my husband’s name.

She did this 20 years ago and is still doing today. Aunt M. sends me letters the old-fashioned way. It is not only via postal service versus e-mail, but she addresses me with my husband’s full name: Mrs., his first name, his middle name and his last name (the last name we share). Using a random name for an example, she posts her letters to me: Mrs. John Elsmer Smith.

In our early years of marriage, I would have loved to tell her to address me by MY name. I did not see myself as a man’s property. I am sure Women’s Rights would have supported me on this.

But nowadays I just find her way of addressing me quaint and nostalgic. It is a petty issue in a world full of other challenges.

Most times, when a letter is addressed to Mrs. husband’s last name, I automatically put it on my husband’s desk. I make no connection while fleetingly reading Mrs. and my husband’s name. My husband then returns the envelope, having to point out it was addressed to me, but not in my name. Shoot. I had missed this little letter s behind Mr. again.

Does the letter s, being the only differentiation between two identities, stand for servant? Mister’s servant.

Nevertheless, I have kept these envelopes to show them to my grandchildren some day. I want to tell them about the first time women were allowed to vote, to drive a car, … and to be called by their own name.

It just makes me wonder. How many women out there in the U.S.A. (or other countries for that matter) still get mail addressed to them as the Mrs. of their husbands?