Sequoia Trees in the Oberursel Forest

There are two Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) near the Frankfurter Forsthaus located in the Oberursel forest.

If you live in the Oberursel area, enter the Rosengärtchen at the U-Bahn station An der Waldlust. Walking downhill a bit, you’ll soon see a sign pointing you to the Tierheim (animal shelter). Follow this road into the woods, pass the Tierheim, and you will soon come to and intersection and see the trees on the left side. Walking time: 20 – 25 minutes

These trees were planted around 1860. One of our international friends asked me if I knew who planted them. As of now, I have only learned that 1860 was a significant year in Europe’s history.

As these tree have been planted close to the Frankfurter Forsthaus in the Oberursel forest (closer to Oberstedten and Bad Homburg), I suppose it might have something to do with all the important people and events in Bad Homburg.

Certain events in 1960:

* Bad Homburg got connected to Frankfurt by rail.

* Emporer Wilhelm II. started using the Bad Homburg castle as his summer residence on a yearly basis.

* The Bad Homburger Kurverein was founded.

* In the year of 1860 alone, there were  275 000 Kurgäste (spa visitors) in Bad Homburg.

* The Gotische Haus (Gothic House) bordering the city limits of Bad Homburg came into possession of the  forest landgraviate( landgräfliche Forstverwaltung).

Sequoia sign in Oberursel Forest

Sequoia sign in Oberursel Forest

Oberursel Forest

Oberursel Forest

Sequoia cone and seeds

Sequoia cone and seeds

Looking for information about 1860 Deutschland, there are about 9,560,000 results. Searching for 1860 Bad Homburg, the net comes up with 126,000 results.

 Who planted these two Sequoia trees? If you know, feel free to share it here with us.

 

German Christmas Tradition: St. Barbara’s Blossoming Twigs

Following my mom’s custom of cutting twigs on St. Barbara Day (4 Dec), I get apple twigs from our neighbor’s garden. With permission, that is. And tradition has it that I’m usually a couple of days late with the cutting.

My mom’s cherry twigs would sit in a hollow space between the kitchen cabinet and the ceiling. Back then, the kitchen was the only warm place in the house, but the twigs with their tiny white blossoms would thrive. When I was a child, they looked like tiny snowflakes from my vantage point.

This year Christmas, I got a few pink apple blossoms again and it always seems like a little miracle. Blossoms in winter.

My older post tells you more about how to care for them, the custom’s origin and meaning etc.: http://www.pension-sprachschule.de/anything-german/a-german-christmas-tradition-barbarazweige/

Barbarazweige and its first blossom

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.

Nikolaus in Germany and the American Santa

Today, 6 December, is Nikolaustag. This is when children leave their boots outside the front door, and Nikolaus fills them with treats. As traditions vary throughout Germany, in northern Bavaria, where I grew up, we put our boots outside on the evening of 6 December.

In other areas (and other family traditions), boots are put outside on the evening of 5 December, with Nikolaus stopping by throughout the night to fill up the boots. Forget the reindeer, his transportation is unknown.

Nikolaus versus Santa

Santa versus Nikolaus

Santa was the invention of a German immigrant to the U.S.A. The cartoonist, Thomas Nast, was commissioned to design a comic figure for an American magazine. From there, Coca Cola picked up the same image and started using it in its commercials. That’s how Santa was born.

Saint Nikolaus himself was a bishop from Myra (Turkey), dating back to the 4th century. He is the patron saint of children, hence the gift-giving to the children, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

First Graders and Paper Cones in Germany

If you see an elementary student, holding proudly a big paper cone filled with presents, then you know it is the very first day of school here in Hesse.

Most Germans see this is a serious affair – this is when ‘Der Ernst des Lebens beginnt’ (The serious side of life begins). Some moms even cry, because they worry about their children and the ‘serious effects’ school could have on them.

On the other hand, when our international kids started school, we were so happy and pleased to have come so far. We told them to enjoy school and the healthy and fun environment provided by good educators.

If you want to know more about the origin of the Schultüte, visit: http://m.dw.com/en/why-germans-give-their-kids-paper-cones-on-the-first-day-of-school/a-19492362

This shows me on my first day of school. Back in 1967, cones were usually filled with essentials mostly, such as school supplies, but also a few sweets. My home state of Bavaria starts the new school year very late by mid-September, hence the warmer clothing.

My first day of school in September 1967

My first day of school in September 1967

Homemade Turkish Breakfast: Menemen

When I was in Istanbul in late September, our hostess took us out for breakfast. I asked for a recommendation, and got Menemen, a so-called spicy dish, because of the garlic, chili peppers, and Turkish salami in it. It only made me smile. Hey, I’ve had Korean kimchi for breakfast.

The next morning, I got a cooking lesson from our hostess. Thank you, Gönül T.

Menemen

Menemen

This is so easy to make with every-day ingredients. We always have onions and garlic at home. I keep dried peppers on the window sill, and I bought a can of pureed tomatoes from the supermarket. The only extra trip we had to make was to the Turkish market for the special salami (Pastırma or Sucuk). This sausage will last at least for four makings of Menemen.

Ingredients:

* 1/2 an onion and one garlic clove

* one can of pureed or diced tomatoes (400 g or 14 oz)

* two large or three small eggs

* shredded cheese of any kind. Feta cheese can also be used.

 

Directions:

1. Sauté both chopped garlic and onions until tender.

2. Add can of pureed tomatoes. Let simmer for about 10 -15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

3. Add sliced chili peppers (dried or fresh).

4. Scramble two large eggs in a separate bowl and slowly add to the simmering mix. Let sit and simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes to make sure the egg within the mix is fully cooked.

5. Add quartered slices of Sucuk or Pastırma (Turkish salami).

6. Stir in the shredded cheese or Feta cubes and after another minute or two of melting, it’s done.

This has become a regular brunch around our home since September of this year. Serve with sliced pieces of French bread. It tastes good warm or cold.

I know there are other versions of this dish – with eggs sunny side up, swimming in the tomato mix. I’ve been told this is the more southern version.

The Turkish family name Menemenci comes from ‘the one who makes Menemen’. The name can be passed on down the family line – to the name Menemencioglu (son of Menemenci).