Category Archives: German festivals

More weird stuff appearing in German shops…

OK – the Christmas goodies started appearing in the shops in late August, the Halloween merchandise in early September, and now, finally in October a small display of essential products to mark a German festival which is actually celebrated at this time of the year! Saint Martinmas.

Sankt Martin

Paper lanterns and battery powered illumination sticks… but then you knew that, right?

Of course it is questionable as to why so many pre-made paper lanterns are on sale, because any German child hoping to take part in the festival will of course make their own out of card, translucent paper and glue. In the old days the lanterns were lit with candles stuck inside them. Yes… I think we can all spot the design flaw there… toddler, fire, paper lantern…. so modern day technology has come to the rescue with those plastic sticks with a bulb on a wire at one end and a battery and switch at the other. These are variously used for sword fighting, whipping your siblings, beheading the prize dahlias, poking your parents and scaring the neighbour’s cat. By the time St. Martinmas comes around the plastic bulb refuses to light… and at this point every plastic illumination stick within a radius of 400 km has sold out. Any parent who fails to provide their child with an electric stick for the St. Martinmas parade is officially a Rabenmutter (bad mother) in Germany… so it is wise to panic-buy and stockpile.

Sorry… I should have told you this a month ago….

 

 

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It’s that time of the year again…

… Yes, late Summer. When the Christmas stuff starts appearing in the German supermarkets.

Lebkuchen and other Christmas goodies

Seasonal fare, unseasonally early…

They’ve still got all the Oktoberfest produce in too.

Muenchener Weisswurst

Weisswurst in Lederhosen? What?

I only popped in for a carton of milk!

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German women – we know your secret!

With the Oktoberfest coming up, strange and unfamiliar products have been appearing in almost every aisle of the supermarkets up here in Northrhine Westphalia. Everything from Weisswurst to Lederhosen to funny little handbags with Edelweiss embroidered on them.

But yesterday I spotted a new line in the ladies’ underwear section. The Dirndl Bra.

This is clearly the secret weapon used by German women to turn their otherwise normal looking bust into that impressive ship’s prow which juts out of every Dirndl-blouse.  Not so much a push-up bra as a piece of lace-edged scaffolding.  Even the size of the box is scary!

dirndl bra

The secret weapon for creating that Dirndl prow

German ladies… we know your secret!

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Scary clothes-shop windows in Germany

Going clothes shopping in Germany has become a disturbing experience of late.

Many normally respectable stores have completely changed their clothing range.  For example, when I was in Mönchengladbach yesterday, I passed an otherwise normal department store and the shop window looked like this.

Dirndl Lederhosen

Not what Germans normally wear.

Oktoberfest

Fancy dress?

I should point out that this type of clothing – the Dirndl for women and the Lederhosen for men – is not what Germans wear in normal life.  You may come across people dressed like this in Bavaria, but not up here.  A Rhinelander wearing a Dirndl or Lederhosen would be like a Londoner wearing a kilt and sporran. If you see someone in this garb, they are either a very lost Bavarian… or more likely an American tourist. But most definitely not a local.

So why are these weird foreign clothes everywhere all of a sudden?

The reason is the upcoming Oktoberfest.  The Oktoberfest is Germany’s biggest beer-party, and the most famous of all is the one on the Wiesn in Munich.  In an un-Germanic fit of anti-logic, the Bavarians hold the Oktoberfest in September. Possibly to confuse non-Bavarians and thus prevent them turning up until all the beer has been drunk.

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If you go down to the woods today…

… you’ll find lots of families treating their fathers to a picnic. Today is Ascension day – and also Father’s Day in Germany.

Of course this means that the picnic isn’t just any old picnic… it’s a special Daddy-picnic. Essential supplies will be transported using a Bollerwagen … a pull-along hand cart.

Essential Father’s Day equipment

The Bollerwagen is also quite handy for getting Dad home again after the picnic, I believe….

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Walpurgisnacht and Tanz in den Mai

It’s a big night tonight in the Fatherland!

If you happen to be a witch, warlock, hobgoblin or demon (and I think some of my regular commentators would fall into one of those categories) then this is Walpurgis night – the night when you are allowed to fly about on broomsticks and cause trouble. Of course, as a modern German miscreant, causing trouble probably means filing your income tax late or failing to have the emissions tested on your car… but if you want to do the traditional thing, you’ll fly on a broomstick to the Brocken (tallest peak in the Harz mountains) where the coven will be celebrating. Apparently.

Germans behaving in a disorderly manner.

For those of us (and I include myself in this) that are altogether less witchlike or demonic, or just don’t happen to own a functional flying broom, the alternative is to pop down to the local pub. They will be celebrating Tanz in den Mai tonight – fundamentally this is a dance to welcome the Spring… the name indicates that we’ll be dancing the month of May in, rather than dancing in the month of May, if you get my drift.

The actual quality of the dancing tonight will be largely determined by the amount of the Maibowle which has been consumed. This is a lethal German weapons-grade fizzy punch which contains the world’s most obnoxious herb – Waldmeister (woodruff).

The Maibowle... a recipe which must never be allowed to fall into the hands of Germany's enemies...

In my experience, the effect of the Maibowle on a living human organism is to cause a vast increase in physical energy combined with almost total muscular paralysis. The result is that you will end up dancing like a demented stick insect, although for some reason you will be convinced you are performing Swan Lake at the Bolshoi. The spiking of your drink with Waldmeister adds the complication that you might actually hurl the entire contents of your digestive system at any moment….as may all the people performing stick-insect pirouettes around you.

Waldmeister is so noxious that the German tobacco industry is actually banned from incorporating it into its products. So what do the Germans do? They feed it to their kids.   Sweets, desserts, fizzy pop…. the list of treats which are infested with the stuff is endless.  When attending kids’ parties in Germany I make it a firm rule never to eat or drink anything that’s green. If it’s too nasty for the tobacco industry, I’m not eating it.

Woodruff flavoured jelly. WHY?

So tonight, I’ve decided that the lesser of the evils will be to mount my Vileda Wischmop and fly off to the Harz mountains. Let’s hope there’s only eye-of-newt and toe-of-frog in the cauldron!

 

 

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Easter in Germany – chocolate galore!

Now that Karneval is over we are into Lent and living on a diet of Bullshitters of the Lord and Nuns Farts.  But there is hope in sight. Easter is just around the corner… already the shops are starting to fill up with fine Easter fare. And lets face it, nobody makes Easter look more chocolatey and delicious than the Germans.  Come Easter Sunday, chocolate rabbits and eggs will be the breakfast, lunch and dinner of choice for anyone under the age of…. er…probably 95…

Easter

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