German New Year’s Traditions.

We are almost to the New Year, we are about to ring in 2018! With that, I thought I would look into some German New Year’s traditions to share with you all. There are actually several things that popped up in my search, so here are just a few of them that I thought I would pass your way! Interesting stuff! For instance, Germans called New Year, “Silvester“.

Cast Some Lead.
Say what now? Yes. Go melt some lead. Many people will melt a small piece of lead or tin over candlelight in a spoon or small pot. After being melted, the lead is then immediately cooled in cold water. As the shape sets quickly, people will interpret the shapes and symbols to predict how the New Year will be predicted for that person.

“Dinner for One”.
Known for its line, “The same procedure as every year, James!”, this is a British Cabernet sketch that has become a cult classic in Germany. It’s a short skit about a tipsy butler and Miss Sophie, a woman celebrating her 90th birthday. The guest list includes imaginary friends, all of those who have died off. If you are interested in watching it, here you go, all in German:

Fireworks.
Grab some fireworks and go make some noise! A LOT OF NOISE! Send the old year out and bring the new one in with lots of noise in the form of fireworks! In traditional days before fireworks, bringing the noise would mean bring your drums and maracas out!

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New Year’s Cards.
In Germany, and many European countries, sending a New Year’s card is done to wish your friends and family a Happy New Year. This is called Neujahrskarte. A lot of times these cards are used to tell friends and family about the past events in the last year. Germans prefer to send a Neujahrskarte over a Christmas card.

Fondue.
Get your cheese melt on and dip meats, veggies, breads and what not in some oozy gooey hot melted cheese! Germans will enjoy a nice traditional pot of fondue to celebrate the New Year.

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Have a Beverage.
Several types of beverages served during this time of year can be the Feuerzangenbowle (aka “flaming fire tongs punch”), as seen below that we did earlier this fall, and then Glühwein, or hot mulled wine. Grab a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine/champagne), beer or wine.

So no matter where you are, we hope you are going to have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration! What are some of your favorite traditions? Share with us!

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Thank you to the following sources for the information:

Christmas Traditions, Customs & More.

I thought it would be fun to search around for some sources to share some German Christmas traditions. My family background is mainly Latvian, pretty much everyone in my family (except my brothers and I), were all born in Latvia. My father and his family were from Latvia and then there is my mother who actually was born in Germany to Latvian parents. So while I, myself, am not German per say, there are some European traditions that are similar in nature from country to country.

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For fun, here’s an Advent and Christmas Quiz from the website, “The German Way & More“. My score? I received 7 out of 10 correct! Look at the brain on me!

From Advent, to the German glass pickle ornament myth, to yuletide, here’s an A-to-Z Guide to Christmas traditions. This “guide” offers some insight into the many different Christmas customs from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

If you were wondering what the differences are between Christmas in the United States and Germany is, try here to find a comparison chart with links to more information. One custom I can relate to is that my family always open presents on Christmas Eve. In the United States, the customary thing to do is to wait for Christmas Day to open gifts. I always thought I was really cool and special to be able to open gifts before all my friends. Growing up we never really left any cookies and milk out for Santa, maybe we had some stocking stuffers to open the next day on Christmas Day, but everything else was done on the Eve. Church, dinner and then gifts! While at the link provided above, you’ll find some good seasonal etiquette if you are traveling to Germany during the Christmas season.

I hope you find some interesting information while browsing through those links I provided. What are some of your holiday traditions? Share them with us in the comments!

As I wrap up this quick post for today, the elves are working up some holiday fun at Gourmet International for our holiday party! Stay tuned, we hope to share some photos and cheer from festivities that are to take place on Friday afternoon!

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Travelin’ Man.

Well, Christmas is almost here and I have to say some fun has been had leading up to the big day! Between sharing stocking stuffer and gift ideas with you all here, our Riegelein #TravelingSanta, all the way from Germany, has been having some fun of his own on Twitter. He’s been seen all around our lovely Mitten State and he’s taken residence in my home, car and lodging wherever my family goes! He refers to my family as his host family, which really is kind of cute. While he’s fun to travel with, he can be a little difficult at times as he doesn’t care much to be in the sun too long, nor does he like to be near heat.

So as we all prepare to get our final holiday to-do lists complete and shopping done, I thought it would be fun to recap a little bit of what #TravelingSanta has been up to and then maybe share what’s up next for #TravelingSanta.

#TravelingSanta had some reflecting moments in Cadillac, Michigan.

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#TravelingSanta got to learn the game of hockey during his stay with us. Although we are NOT a travel team, we still do travel quite a bit. This time he was in Holland, Michigan with us at Griff’s Ice House West.

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#TravelingSanta in Holland, Michigan at Griff’s Ice House West.

#TravelingSanta is having a good time in the car with us, his host family, on the way to St. Ignace, Michigan where yes, again, hockey! This was the Battle at the Bridge hockey tournament.

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During Thanksgiving break, #TravelingSanta went for a hike, did some chores around the house and gave some advice to those who needed turkey help.

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#TravelingSanta celebrated National Gingerbread Cookie Day.

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#TravelingSanta helped us pick out our Christmas tree this year.

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#TravelingSanta enjoyed our first big snow storm of the season!

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And #TravelingSanta asked me to share some photos of him and our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy. They’ve been talking with each other quite a bit lately. They are good friends and they are keeping very close tabs on my boys, making sure they are behaving!

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And last but not least, only seen here, #TravelingSanta wanted me to share these photos of him with some of our many ornaments from our White House Christmas Ornament collection from the White House Historical Association.

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So what’s next for #TravelingSanta? I’m not sure yet, I guess we shall just have to wait and see what Christmas holds for all of us! Stay tuned to Twitter and see what happens! So far he’s been a really great guest and he’s kept my kids occupied, however, one child in particular keeps giving him some kind of crazed look… so not sure what that is all about!

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#TravelingSanta enjoying some chocolate and cookie samples.

Christmas Markets of the United States.

Christmas Markets have become a popular place to visit during the Christmas season. What does a Christmas Market entail? And when did it begin? Widely popular all throughout Europe, Christmas Markets have had a long tradition of being an important aspect of the season. Taking a look back at some history, Vienna, Austria, was first to have “December Market” in 1298. As for the Christmas Markets opening in Germany, there have been different answers: Munich 1310, Bauzen 1384 and Frankfurt 1393. From there the Christmas Markets spread across Europe and beyond. Below is a photo from the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

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Christmas Markets are also known as Christkindlmarkts, otherwise known as Christ Child Markets. This dates back to the days of Martin Luther where he wanted to take focus away from the Saints Nicholas and Martin. Before the 1530s, gifts were exchanged on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) or November 11 (St. Martins Day). Martin Luther’s children received gifts on the 24th of December, from Christkindl or Christ Child, and as that continued some of the Christmas Markets called themselves Christkindlmarkts.

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I’d like to make sure we give credit to German Girl In America for a lot of the data and information that I shared here with you all.

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Christmas Markets have spread all across the United States and have gained popularity among larger cities. Just take a moment on Google and you can search the many markets across the States. I’ll list a few here:

Note that all the Christmas Markets have different operating dates, times and such. Do check out their websites prior to visiting and research what is available and open during certain times of the holiday season.

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These Christmas Markets offer a variety of seasonal treats, foods, candies and an assortment of gifts, festivities and fun for families and friends to enjoy. Have you been to a Christmas Market? If you have, what are your favorite things to do, to see, or to buy?

If you are searching for a Christmas Market near you, try looking at ChristmasMarkets.com to help you with your search!

The photos that are seen throughout this post are all under Creative Commons CC0 and were obtained by Pixabay.

 

A Perfect Stocking Stuffer!

Every Christmas Eve, my brothers and I like to annoy my mother by stalking our stockings. It’s really not our fault, you see, ever since we were little, our Christmas stockings were something we could open up right after we got home from church, so it was in-between church and Christmas Eve dinner that we would be able to enjoy some small gifts and a lot of candy (yes, right before dinner!). Even as we get older, we still may gather at my parents before Christmas Eve service and take a look at what might be spewing out of our socks. Mother gets super upset, yells at us, chases us away, then we do it all over again. It’s sort of like wash, rinse and repeat.

After church, we arrive back to mom and dad’s house and then as she preps appetizers, we big kids head to our socks and well, pretty much tear into them. As we get older, we are a bit more slow in pulling out the Christmas stocking items. My own kids and my niece also join in the fun with their stockings as well. Of course, in the midst of all of this, my mother is trying to prepare Christmas dinner. While she is excited that we are opening our socks, she’s still annoyed beyond belief that we are ripping into small packages and candy that she has filled into our socks. With any luck, there might be a small adult beverage hiding in the “big kids” socks! Woo hoo!

Where am I going with this? There’s something my mom always puts in our Christmas stockings…

Do you need a quick and easy stocking stuffer? Grab some of these Haribo Christmas Edition Gold Bears! This package only includes red and green gummy bears, the best flavors if you ask me! You can find these in our Christmas stockings – and if my mom didn’t put them in my own sock, the grandkids get them, but I control my kids sugar intake, so really this means I get the gummy bears. It’s a well laid out scheme!

I really could annoy you all and get that Gummy (Gummi?!) Bear song stuck in your head. I’m still half thinking about posting the link to the song as I type this out… but gummy bears make the best stocking stuffer! Well, any of the Haribo gummy products are delicious, while I do love the Christmas bears, I actually do have a secret favorite in the Alphabet Letters

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While I’m thinking about it, is it gummy or gummi? I suppose it depends on what part of the world you are in, I think it goes both ways. Check out the process of making the Haribo Gold Bear below!

And in case you were wondering, we do have a Haribo fun fact below (taken from their website).

Where does the name HARIBO come from?

The name HARIBO comes from HAns RIegel BOnn. Hans Riegel was the founder of the company, born in 1898 in Friesdorf (a region of Bonn, Germany). In 1920, the company was registered into the Bonn trade register as HARIBO, an acronym of the his name and the place Bonn.

Source: Haribo.com

A Little Taste of Denmark.

It’s the holiday season. We have now celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States and now we are on to all the holidays that await us in December. With the holiday season also comes the holiday party season. Some parties you may need to bring an item to pass, or something to exchange or maybe you just want to bring something along to gift your host. What do you bring? The possibilities are endless, and I can suggest one for you!

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Why not bring a tin of delicious butter cookies? You can’t go wrong with butter cookies! Kids and adults enjoy a quick bite of a little butter cookie if you pass it before them! How do I know? I did just this exact thing the other day as I was thinking about writing this post! As I was visiting my brother and the rest of my family out on some wooded property in West Michigan, I brought along a Jacobsens cookie tin. Getting in the festive mood of the season, I had the cute Santa tin along with me.

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Out of 11 people comprising of 2 children and 9 adults, I passed around the cookie tin and personally offered a treat. Out of how many people do you think passed on a cookie? NONE. Every. Single. Person… took a Danish butter cookie that was offered to them! You can’t say no to a butter cookie! (And then after you have one, you’ll want to eat another! And then more!)

Jacobsens of Denmark is known world-wide for their butter and chocolate chip cookies. They are light and baked perfectly, and I have to admit, they do seem to “melt” in your mouth when you take a bite! I can never just have one!

These butter cookies, as a lot of the products I feature here, bring me back to my childhood. Along with some other cookies featured here, these Danish butter cookies were always a staple at my grandparents house growing up. I even recall my grandmother using a cleaned out, empty tin for some of her crochet and other sewing supplies! It came in handy for additional storage after the cookies were gone!

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So there you have it! You can have your cookie and then use your tin, too! Some of the Jacobsen’s holiday tins you could reuse to fill other holiday baked treats and items. You could also use it for storing holiday cards and keepsakes! A perfect holiday cookie tin you can bring to share, exchange, or gift! Give the taste of Denmark as a gift to someone you care about this holiday season! Perfect with a nice cup of tea, coffee or hot cocoa!

 

Let’s Talk About Stollen.

DSC_0095Do you know what stollen is? If you don’t, its basic definition is that stollen is a sweet yeast bread of German origin that contains fruits and nuts (Source: Merriam-Webster). And sweet it is! I’ve been nibbling on this Quickbury Christ Stollen and it’s yummy! I sort of feel like I’m doing something bad because it’s not December yet and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet, so to think about stollen – even eating it – this early before Christmas seems sort of wrong! But it tastes soooo good!

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Stollen can be eaten as is, or often times could be served with butter or preserves. I enjoyed my slice of stollen as is, plain, but every now and then some butter is nice with the flavor of the sweet bread! There’s plenty of flavor and the bread is by no means dry at all. Do make sure after you have opened your package of stollen that you wrap it up well to prevent it from drying out. I usually wrap mine in foil, nice and tight!

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Stollen should not be confused with fruitcake, they are two separate items! The main difference between stollen and fruitcake is that fruitcake is often soaked in rum or other spirits. You won’t find that in a stollen recipe!

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In some ways this reminds me of what Latvians bake called “Zeltene Maize” or a “Kliņģeris”. A sweet bread with raisins, fruits and/or other nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. My grandmothers used to make this bread and it was always delicious in the morning with a cup of hot coffee or tea. The kliņģeris is more of a Latvian birthday bread “pretzel” with powdered sugar and almonds on top. Very similar in the likes of stollen!

Quickbury is a company based out of Quickborn, Germany, which is north of Hamburg. They specialize in a wide range of cookies, breads, cakes and sugar-free edible items. During the Christmas holiday season, they produce a variety of traditional stollen and gingerbread. What makes Quickbury unique is that they are always expanding their assortment of products to meet the requirements and desires of their customers.

If you have not ever tried stollen or previous years have been a fruitcake fan, why not ditch the fruitcake and go for stollen this year? Stollen is perfect for those holiday celebrations when guests are around or perfect for adding to breakfast on those early Christmas mornings watching presents being unwrapped.

What else do you like about the holiday season? Are there any other favorite baked items, goods, treats that you long for when the holiday season approaches? Please share! Even better if you can share a photo or link! Post a favorite picture on our Facebook page or tag us in Instagram! Tweet and retweet with us on Twitter! There may be a special guest in the upcoming weeks traveling across Michigan, so stay tuned for Traveling Santa! Watch for other holiday ideas and fun on Pinterest!

As always, nibble on my friends!