Friendly reminder that if the Christmas market in Nürnberg is too packed for your taste, right up the U-Bahn is Fürth. Much less crowded, a cool middle-age area, and a bonus small market in the Altstadt on Waagplatz from the 6th to the 15th this year.
I don’t know what it is about Christmas that makes people think we need a million more varieties of artisanal soap than we buy at any other time of the year, but here we are. They do add nice pops of color to the stands though.
Seems like it was just yesterday when my sister arrived from her long tenure in South Korea. One of our first orders of business was to take her to the Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt where we all spent long enough gazing longingly at these sausages and sniffing their sweet smoke to not care that much about spoiling our dinners.
I spent most of the weekend sick in bed so no Christmas markets for me. However, I am confident that the opening of the Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt was as full of bustle as ever. It’s not a total loss though, we have three more weeks and at some point, it should stop raining… right?
Regensburg has, for my money, one of the loveliest city centers to host a Christmas market. There are a few different areas scattered around the city, but every alleyway is festooned with lights, so even getting lost is enjoyable.
I wish I could say that I actually have a penguin to give anyone who reads this post, or to myself for writing it, but I’m guessing PETA would have something to say about that. Instead, we will all have to survive with only a picture of a penguin ornament as my slightly-awkward segue into this post about what the hell has been going on lately.
To say that life has been busy lately is something of an understatement. On the positive side, I’ve managed to pick up a bit more work. The timing was great, as some other work is/has been ending, and I was getting a little worried about filling the void. But things are looking up for next year, and finding a bit of work to finish this year off with was a very unexpected surprise. Not a ton of classes start right before Christmas, so I felt very lucky to fall into working with the school that I did.
On the downside, my three-week break will be interrupted by one day of work at the end of the month, as a company wants a trial lesson. What kind of maniacs are working between Christmas and New Year, you might ask? Hopefully the kind that really like me and want to have lots and lots of English lessons. I’m going to have to bring my A-game for that one, which may mean I need to find and dust off my A-game.
But of course, life hasn’t been all about work. Since my last post, BV and I have been either 1) working, 2) socializing, or 3) slightly ill. December kicked off with our hosting our fourth Thanksgiving together, with the usual chaos of a full house and all that goes with it. We took almost no pictures on the day (once again), but here’s the turkey….
It looks a bit dry in this picture, but it was not. I’m basically a turkey ninja at this point. A big shout-out has to go to B (not BV), my sous-chef, who is an excellent chopper, and filler of cooking wine/prosecco. As an added bonus, we had enough leftovers for Thanksgiving II on the following day, when BV’s parents joined us for lunch. Win-win!
Oh, and just in time for Thanksgiving, I finally finished painting/staining all of our new chairs. BV and I have been searching for wooden chairs since some friends gave us a new dining table two years ago, and as it turns out, it’s been a more difficult and time-consuming search than I anticipated. Now we’re shooting to have eight chairs at some point, but we are up to five, and they are all in service. It’s not a great picture, but here’s Marry die Katze modeling the table/chairs in the living room, where they are living until after his parents visit us on Christmas Eve (our kitchen has a dining nook, but it’s too small to actually use).
That table is taking away half of our living room and making me nuts, but it makes more sense to just leave it in here over the holidays. Marry is mostly upset that it is temporarily replacing her favorite chair, so now she has to sit on the table to stare at us instead. Cats, am I right? Anyway.
Just a few days after Thanksgiving, the Christmas cookie factory officially opened for business when we hosted several of BV’s friends/colleagues for an evening of baking. We came out the other side with a few kinds of cookies, and a nasty cold for me. Luckily I recovered by the following weekend, when I headed south for the fifth year of baking with the Villagers. Their girls are alternately super helpful (decorating) and unhelpful (distracting me by standing on chairs/singing the ABCs at the top of their lungs on either side of me while I try to mix the tricky pink cookies with one hand and reread the recipe on my phone with the other hand. This led me to add waaaaaaaaaaaay too much vinegar, and then we had to start the whole damn thing over again.) but they are adorable enough to forgive most things.
My last week of work for this year was pretty enjoyable because the school feeling never seems to fade when it comes to Christmas vacation. That means movie time, and even Glühwein time in one group. Score! In my Wednesday classes, we watched an assortment of holiday videos, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, and a couple of different holiday episodes of The Office. Plus, I got some sweet goodies including…
That’s right, damn near 700 breweries and brew restaurants just in Franconia. Not in all of Germany, or even Bavaria… just Franconia. By that logic, we should have one in our garden. Just from flipping through, I already found one brew restaurant with my last name, so I fully intend on visiting it and staking my claim.
With work wrapped up for the year, BV and I settled into vacation mode starting last Friday. Preparations for the holiday are slowly being made, and on Saturday we went to visit our old tree man. He had a rough year due to the heat, and apparently a lot of his saplings didn’t make it though the year. We found a nice little tree though, and also enjoyed being followed through the “forest,” by this little cat…
Tomorrow will be our main shopping day, and luckily we don’t have too much to buy. I’m also hoping the weather cooperates, and we can have a bit of a poke around the Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt without getting soaked. The weather has either been rainy, or spectacular sunrises like this…
…which then give way to more gray skies. The Wisconsin part of me hurts to say this, but snow would be preferable to rain. At least the Christmas markets would feel more festive. We visited the market in Fürth with friends last week, and the drizzle didn’t let up all evening. We still had a nice time, and handily the main Glühwein stand was covered, very full, and had a roaring fire in the center of it. We had a bit to eat, a bit to drink, and a bit of a wander around town.
When I look at some of the other bloggers in Germany, I feel pretty slacker-ish. I don’t know how in the world some of them manage to pack in as many Christmas markets and other festivities as they do, but well done kids! This year, I’ll just have to settle for two markets, but as you just read, it’s been a busy month over here.
Since chances are I won’t get around to posting again before Christmas, I’d just like to say I hope all of you readers have a lovely holiday and lots of time with family and friends! Enjoy lots of treats, good times, and maybe even a little snow, depending on your location. 😉
When you live in Germany, you learn that they have a lot of rules. There are rules about recycling, and there are rules about driving. There are rules about being quiet, and not being quiet. There are rules about what you can eat and when you can eat it. For example in this area, a very common and well-known rule involves Carp, or as I like to call it “one of those gross, bottom-feeding fish.” Carp is extremely popular here in Franconia, but it can ONLY be consumed during months with an ‘r’ in the name. So if you like Carp, you better get your fill of it in April because you won’t find it in a restaurant again until September. Not happening.
As a non-German living in Germany, you have to take a lot of things on faith. This means that when someone tells me something that seems slightly odd, but says it’s a rule, I just go with it. Because who would tell me stories? That would be weird and pointless, right?
This brings us to gingerbread. In Nürnberg, it’s known as Lebkuchen and woo boy, is it big business this time of year. The city is famous for it, which means that once the Christmas market opens, you can’t swing a cat in this town without knocking over a display of it. Lebkuchen can of course be purchased all year round, and in fact, there was a whole Lebkuchen Week market set up in the middle of the city back in October. I thought that was a little strange, but BV assured me that it was mostly for the tourists.
Because you see, there was a rule about Lebkuchen.
For the three years that we’ve been dating, BV has been telling me that real Germans, and especially real Nürnbergers, don’t eat Lebkuchen until after St. Martin’s Day, or Martinstag, which is on November 11th. St. Martin’s Day also marks the beginning of the Carnival season, so it made total sense to me that the delicious gingerbread would be something you would eat at that time. But then… oh but then.
Kids… BV IS TELLING ME TALES.
That’s right, the war on cookies continues!
About two weeks ago in one of my classes, the topic of odd rules came up again. During the discussion, I mentioned something about the Lebkuchen rule, and was met with total blank stares. They had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. We went through a few other rules, which everyone agreed on, but not one had heard about anything involving gingerbread and St. Martin’s Day.
It could be a fluke, I thought, especially given that I wasn’t actually in Nürnberg that day. Perhaps outside of town it wasn’t given the correct amount of gravitas? Could be.
So I decided to take a survey. Since then, I have asked every single one of my students, and not a one… NOT A ONE knows about this “rule.” The age range of my students is from 20-65+, and they cover a significant part of Franconia when it comes to places they live/have lived before. And not a single, solitary one of them knows this rule.
When I confronted BV with this information, he did not believe me. He stuck to his guns, insisting that it was a rule and that my students must simply be confused. I’m not sure there’s a ton of room for confusion on this matter, but he didn’t budge. I posited that it was perhaps only a rule in his house, put forth by his mother to keep the kids from eating too many sweets, but he brushed that off. It’s a rule and that is the end of the story.
Fine then honey, it’s a rule.
On St. Martin’s Day, I stopped into the store on my way home from work and purchased a small container of Lebkuchen. After dinner, I dramatically retrieved it, smacked it down on the coffee table and said, “and you shall not have any!”*
But from now on, if I get the urge to indulge in a chocolaty, frosty, tasty piece of Lebkuchen and it’s “off-season,” fake rules be damned. I’m going for it.
Have you heard of this “rule”? Can you defend BV?
*That was mostly for dramatic effect. Don’t worry mom and dad, I shared.