Christmas Tree Pick-up for Recycling in Germany

The time has come for our Nordmanntanne (Caucasian fir) to get picked up by the tree collection truck on Monday, 16 January.

We apartment dwellers will just dump it over the balcony. The Hausmeister will go around, and pull them over to the sidewalk.

Our fir has been resting on the balcony ever since we took off its decorations. This is usually done by Epiphany, 6 January.

In Germany,  about 22 million households have a Christmas tree, with a third of them getting decorated the day before Christmas Eve.

When I was a child, the tree got decorated about an hour before the gift-giving on Christmas Eve. The tree had to be a secret, so my folks had to wait till the last moment. It was Christkind who brought the presents and decorated the tree as well.

Some other fun facts:

  • 135.000 children send a wish list to the Christmas post-office in 51777 Engelskirchen (near Cologne).
  • The tradition of eating goose on Christmas Day probably comes from England.
  • 30% of all Germans hope for a white Christmas.
  • 91% of all Germans exchange gifts on Christmas eve.
  • Parents spend on average euro 78 for presents per child.

Germany’s Oldest Christmas Market is in Dresden

Which town has the oldest Christmas Market in Germany? Among the many questions I get from expats around the area, this one is related to Christmas.

The town  is Dresden. Its Christmas Market, also locally referred to as Striezelmarkt, was the first one of its kind to be mentioned in 1434.

Meaning of Striezel (m): 1) In eastern and central Germany, a Striezel is a yeast dough bread, similar to Stollen (e.g. Weihnachtsstollen). 2) The term can also stand for ‘naughty boy’.

snowman

List of Christmas Markets around Oberursel

Many expats and visitors to Germany head to the ever so commercial Christmas markets in the bigger cities, e.g. Heidelberg, Frankfurt, and Nuremberg, for that special Christmas flair.

I have been here in Germany for more than 20 years, and have got to know the big ones as being crowded, over-priced, and offering the same old merchandise.

oberursel-weihnachtsmarkt-2014

It is better to go to the smaller ones, where merchandise has been individually crafted, there are home baked goods, prices are lower, and they are less crowded.

Some vendors are volunteers working for a kindergarten or a charity organization, some represent the local fishing club, others sell handcrafted items made my mentally/physically challenged people, etc. The smaller markets are much more individual.

Around the Oberursel area, we have the following Christmas markets, which usually range from one day to four days.

The one listed in Friedberg is the only one which runs for a full four weeks.

10 Dec 2016 (Sat): Massenheim from 16:00 – 22:00 Address: center of the village

Edit: The Massenheim Christmas market takes place on 03 December. This is from a more reliable source – my friend, Peter, who, along with his ensemble, plays there tomorrow.

11 Dec 2016 (Sun): Bommersheim 12:00 – 20:00(part of  Oberursel) Address: Burgstrasse/Lange Strasse

29 Nov – 23 Dec 2016: Friedberg  http://www.friedberger-advent.de/

24 – 27 Nov 2016 (Thu – Sun): Oberursel Address: Innenstadt bis Marktplatz

03 -04 Dec 2016 (Sat – Sun): Stierstadt 14:00 – 18:00 Address: Gartenstrasse

03 -04 Dec 2016 (Sat – Sun): Steinbach Address: Kirchgasse and Pijnackerplatz

09 – 11 Dec 2016 (Fri – Sun): Bad Vilbel Address: Wasserburg http://www.kultur-bad-vilbel.de/weihnachtsmarkt/

29 Nov 2016 (Sun): Dortelweil (part of Bad Vilbel) 11:00  –  18:00

If you know of any others in the area, please share them under ‘comments’ or send me an e-mail.

A German Christmas Tradition – Barbarazweige

While growing up in a small village in northern Bavaria, I always saw my mom putting Barbarazweige on top of the kitchen cabinet in early December. These otherwise brown barren twigs would come into full bloom by Christmas.

Traditionally, these twigs are cut on 4 December, also known as St. Barbara Day (Catholic church). After cutting, they should experience a slight frost by either putting them in the fridge or leaving them outside overnight. Then put them in warm water for the first night. This will cause them to bloom later as the change from frosty temperature to a warm room makes it seem like spring is coming.

After the first night of warm water, fresh cold water should be given every three days.

Barbarazweige, a German Christmas tradition

Barbarazweige, a German Christmas tradition

Short list of trees or bush which are best:

Kirsche/cherry    Apfel/apple    Forsythien/forsythia    Haselnuss/hazelnut    Zierjohannisbeer/currant    Birke/birch   Weide/willow   Schlehe/blackthorn   Goldregen/laburnum    Ginster/broom (gorse)

Origin

This tradition is based on St. Barbara (Heilige Barbara), a shopkeeper’s daughter, who was put in jail. On her way there, her dress got caught on a cherry twig. While she was in her jail cell, she watered the little twig every day. On the day of her execution, the twig blossomed.

Blossoming Twigs bring Good Fortune

Bringing Barbarazweige to blossom is an old, but almost forgotten Christmas tradition. If everything is timed properly, the blossoms come to full bloom at Christmas and this means good fortune for the coming year, and shriveled ones brings back luck.

In the old days, a young woman would write her suitors’ names on pieces of paper and hang them onto the twigs. The one, whose twig blossomed first, should be the one chosen for marriage.

This tradition is mostly forgotten. Yesterday morning, I called my neighbor, a nice elderly woman in her late 70s, and asked her for some Barbarazweige from her garden. She said I was welcome to cut some, but she was not sure if they had such a tree or bush named Barbara. I did not bother to explain this tradition over the phone, but went right over to her garden.

I believe I have twigs from an apple tree, but we shall see.

Notes from Germany

This photo is not accurate. We have no snow at the moment and the weather bureau tells us we are having the mildest winter on record in 30 years.

Nevertheless, enjoy your holidays, wherever you are.