Angels’ chorus

We have the most wonderful tradition in my hometown that is (as far as I know) unique. It’s the angels’ chorus at the Christmas market. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Christmas season there will be the angels’ chorus performing on the balcony of our townhouse. I can remember listening to the music back when I was so small I could sit on my dad’s shoulders… But see for yourself (and, please, excuse the people talking in the background.):

Making Spaetzle

This post was originally written in March 2010. It’s part of the series of posts I wish more people had read and which I will repost during my absence…

Spaetzle is a typical food for Bavaria. I can’t think of much else and I just LOVE them. They are quite simple to prepare, you just need eggs, flour, tap water and salt. And the recipe is also really quick!

You need about 100 g flour per egg. So for two eggs you’d take about 200 g flour and about 80 ml water. The amount differs depending on what you use to make the spaetzle. I used a spaetzle planer which you can see on the picture. You can also just grate them using a tray and a knife (this is quite tricky). If you grate them you’ll need rather less water because you need the dough to be quite sticky. Using a planer, like I did, it’s more useful to make the dough a bit more fluid.

You start mixing the flour, salt and eggs together and then add the water bit by bit. It’s quite a sticky dough a bit like a muffin dough.

Then put water in a big pot and heat it until it’s boiling. When the water’s boiling, you can start making the spaetzle:

Put some of the dough in the planer and start moving it up and down. If you grate them take the knife and grate small parts of the dough directly from the tray into the boiling water. When the top of the water is covered with spaetzle stop grating/planing for a moment. Keep the water boiling for 2-5 mins. and then remove them from the water. Put the on a tray to drain. Repeat this process until there is no dough left.

I used about 7 eggs and got 1.5 kg of spaetzle… Quite a lot, I know, but you can freeze them without any problems. If you don’t want to eat them right away, you can freeze them now. Or you continue to eat them immediately. You can use them as side dish or eat them with mushrooms and cream sauce or cabbage.

Put a pan on the stove and heat it with a bit of butter. Then put the amount you want to eat into the pan and fry them until they get a golden touch (about 10 mins). I had them with cabbage and that tastes just delicious!

Turamichele

This post was originally written in September 2009. It’s part of the series of posts I wish more people had read and which I will repost during my absence…

On the last weekend in September Turamichele is celebrated in Augsburg, Germany. This is a local tradition celebrated every year around the day of Saint Michael.

Originally it was only the showing of the mechanical figures of St. Michael and the devil fighting against each other. This fight is shown every full hour and St. Michael will stab the devil according to the hour, i.e. at noon the devil would receive 12 stabs. History books first mention this play around the 16th century and except for two short interruptions in the 19th and 20th century (due to political disturbances and WW II) it has been held ever since.

Nowadays it’s is a huge local celebration attracking visitors from all over the South of Germany. It is now not only celebrated on St. Michael’s day but also on the weekend around the day. There is a small fair held on the Rathausplatz (the main square of Augsburg), next to the Perlach Tower where the “fight” takes place.

One other tradition that was introduced after WW II is the ballon competition. After watching St. Michael defeating the devil all kids let ballons filled with gas fly into the air. These ballons normally have the colours of Augsburg red, green and white. Attached to each ballon is a postcard with the address of the kid. The ballon which flies the farthest and whose postcard is sent back wins a small prize.

I went there last weekend with my younger cousins. It was a lot of fun. We watched the play three times, had ballons flying and climbed the Perlach Tower where we enjoyed a great view of the surrounding landscape of Augsburg. On good days we would have been able to see even the Alps.

United we stand

One of last week’s questions on Ten on Tuesday was “what I was proud about my country”. I stumbled a bit at this question, because generally we are not raised to be proud of our country.

Another thing that really caught me off guard, was the sheer coincidence of this question. It could have been asked at any week of the year, but it made its way to ToT the week before one of Germany’s most important holidays: October 3. The day we celebrate the reunification of “both” Germanys – East and West.

A look on history

Of course, you all know the story about how Germany was divided into 4 parts after WW2, governed by Britain, France, the US and Russia and how we ended up being divided into the German Federal Republic (made of the British, French and American sector) and the German Democratic Repubilc (made of the Russian sector). It was also the beginning of the Cold war that ended some 45 years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

Time to celebrate

This year marks the 20th birthday of our reunification. 20 years since the Berlin wall fell and with it the iron curtain dividing one people.

But are we feeling celebratory? No, not really.

Are we proud of our country? Uhm. Big question.

Our everyday life and feelings are mixed, I’d say. Like most countries, we’re facing the consequences of the last economic crisis and find ourselves in the middle of budget cuts, reforms and strike. We are still facing some “leftover ghosts” from the former regime in Eastern Germany, like high unemployment rates in some areas.

But we should be hopeful.

In the last 60 or so years, our country, as in our grandparents, parents and ourselves, have done our best to overcome our dark past and built a democracy from scratch. From being a “feared enemy” to a stable nation that can be relied on within the community of states. We’re fighting together with former enemies against new threats, like terrorism.

If you asked me to describe my home country, I’d say that we’re a very multi-cultural society. We have one of the best educational systems enabling everyone to pursue the career he or she wants. We have only minor immigration issues. Our crime rates are incredibly low.

So, why aren’t we proud? I don’t know. Perhaps we are, but we’re unconscious about it. Or we’d like to be proud, but are afraid of what other nations will think. Considering our history and what we’ve grown up with I suppose it’s a mixture of both. I hope that one day soon, we’ll find a compromise and say:

“We’re proud of what our country has become in these last 60 years!”

Wouldn’t our celebrating 20 years of unity be a great moment to start?

Oktoberfest

It’s not yet October, but the world-famous Oktoberfest – or beer festival started last weekend. With the weather being so nice it’s hard not to be able to go this year. To make things better we enjoyed Bavarian supper with Cheese salad (Obatzda) and pretzels…

And we might just dress up in our Lederhos’n and Dirndl and head out of town, if there’s any time left…

I L O V E PhotoShop

Two weeks ago, we had a veteran/vintage car race in our town. I had never been to such an event before and I was sooo exited. We got up at 6 on a Sunday morning – yes take that in: 6 in the morning. After a quick breakfast we headed to the local mall were all the cars were starting. from. And it was really worth it. There were over 200 cars ranging from one of BMWs first cars, to big US cars, to convertibles from the 90s. I took more than 200 photos.

And that’s where Photoshop enters stage. We got the new PhotoShop edition just about at the same time and I had longed to try some of its features. And it’s just great. Thoug I didn’t get to try many of the new features I tried the new old menu. It’s easy to work with and works really quick. Here are some of the pictures I took, some edited, some in their original form:

Old Trabant, car from the former Eastern Germany. Waiting times for these were several years.

Don’t these cars look super cute with the suitcases? I’d love to have the one in the front.

Can you feel the speed?

Long live the Queen…

One of my favorite pictures. I love the lashes!

Yihhaw!

Another favorite. I love the b/w and color combination…don’t you think it’s great?

And lastly, American Glory!

If you klick on the photos you’ll get to my flickr account where you can download the pictures in high res. Fell free to do so!

Maiele

Maiele – I think this is my favorite tradition of all we have here in Germany. Why? Well, let me tell you.

First of all, some of you might wonder about the pronounciation. That’s an easy one: Just put  “May” and the first syllable of “Elena” (which would be “ele”) together. Sounds strange? Actually it’s a diminuition of May in German.

It’s called like that, because this is a custom of May 1st. Here in Germany May 1st is a holiday, also called “Labor Day”, because it was originally started by the labor movement in the late 1880s.

However the tradition of Maiele doesn’t have anything to do with Labor Day. Maiele is more like Valentine’s Day. On the night from April 30th to May 1st the boy/man who is in love with a girl (they don’t have to be in a relationship, but on most occasions they are) puts up a birch tree decorated with a big heart that bears the name of the girl and colored cloth stripes.

This is a very old tradition here in the area where I live and in the past it was custom that when a girl got two (or three in some areas) birches in 2 (3 in some areas) consecutive years by the same guy the last tree ment that they were getting engaged. This, however, is not as strictly seen any longer.

But there are some other things that are still practised. E.g. given the possibility that there are more guys who want to put up a birch for one girl one may top off a birch that has already been installed, but isn’t guarded. If it is guarded, the people looking after the birch may “release” the group by donating a crate of beer. However, trees may only be chopped off until the “morning ringing” of the church bells which is around six in the morning.

So, nowadays, there will be groups of young men who drive around in the night, looking for birches that have been put up. Of course, they’re more on the lookout for the beer than chopping off the trees.

To make the wait for morning  a bit more bearable the girl’s parents usually host a big breakfast for the guy who put up the tree (and his friends, because you need a lot of guys to put up such a tree).

I got a Maiele three years ago from my boyfriend. This was a total surprise, because we had talked about it before and I’d said that I didn’t want him to put up one, because he’d have to transport the tree all the way from where he’s living. Just imagine driving 30 miles with a 10m high tree on a trailer…

But, as he does so often, he didn’t listen to me, but surprised me with the most beautiful tree ever: