a TAPIF language assistant blog / un blog d’une assistante d’anglais

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Markets in Germany

I know this is after Christmas, but guess what? I've been busy. So get ready for some post-Christmas joy!

I recently mentioned the tradition of Christmas markets. Well, if you didn't know, Germany has quite the reputation for having the best Christmas markets around. As it turns out, the rumor seems to be true. Take a look - the pictures speak for themselves!

First of all, even the market in the airport is bigger than Narbonne's Christmas market.

Christkindlmarkt in Marienplatz - You can see the Christmas tree with the New Town Hall (and famous Glockenspiel) in the background.

more Glockenspiel

These are wooden decorations that move due to candle power! (The candles send up hot air, which turns the fan at the top, which turns the figures in the middle around (like a glockenspiel).)

more Marienplatz Christmas tree

I think the white figurines look like Princess Leia with baguettes. :)

Christmas Lebuchenherzen

Note the pretty star lamps... they'll be back.

lights, tree, Glockenspiel

There is a famous German stuffed animal company that decorates (and animates) this window each year with their stuffed animals.

dinner from a booth - flammekueche from Alsace - delicious!

entering the courtyard within the Glockenspiel

same courtyard, where we went to get glühwein!
Glühwein, literally "glowing wine," is German mulled wine.

Glühwein under the Glockenspiel!

a dragon on the New Town Hall... which I've never noticed before

In southern Germany, the markets are called Christkindlmarkts (Christ child* markets), while in northern Germany they're called Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets).

Now onto a small medieval Christmas market, also in Munich!

If you look closely, you can see that the bartender in the right booth is dressed in medieval garb.

Just in case you're in the market for a medieval sword...

... and now for the Tollwood alternative Christmas market!

Nothing says "alternative Christmas market" like a grape-shaped collection of disco balls!

half-meter sausage - We didn't stop at this particular booth.

chocolate kebabs - They shave the chocolate off a giant spit, just like they do with meat for regular kebabs.

See the giraffes?

random lit-up stilt people

You can get food from all over the world at the market, but our choice was Greek (gyros)!


I am a little obsessed with these stars, which I've see all over the place in Germany since I got here. I bought one, and so did Irene and Nici!

French Aaron, c'est pour toi!

Leaving the Tollwood (I think the grape disco balls and the Church of St. Paul in the background make an interesting combination.)

Basically, if you ever want to feel like a kid in a candy store, you should go to a German Christmas market. The tradition of the Christmas market has spread all over Europe (and the world), but they originated in the German-speaking part of Europe during the middle ages. You can (obviously) find everything from food, drink, and candy to toys, clothes, and decorations! I was lucky enough to hit these three Christmas markets in my first two days in Germany... if that's not enough to make you feel Christmasy, I don't know what is!

*In parts of Germany (including southern Germany), it's not Santa Claus who brings presents, but the Christkind, or Christ child.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Where You Are

Well, for those of you who don't know, I'm in Germany with the lovely Irene and her wonderful family for Christmas! I took a flight from Toulouse to Munich on Thursday the 20th (by the way, I do NOT suggest flying if you're sick and have inflamed sinuses... just fyi... ask me that story sometime.) and have already spent a very merry five days here in Bavaria. Seriously, just wait until you hear stories and see pictures (coming soon)!

However, just for today, I'd like to point out that this is a strange Christmas, because it's the only Christmas I've ever not been with my family in Fort Worth, Texas. I might add, for any of you who somehow do not know, that Fort Worth has pretty crazy weather. Sometimes it's cold at Christmas, sometimes it's warm. We're not really a "winter wonderland" kind of holiday vacation destination. Last night, it apparently thunderstormed all night.

I'd also like to point out that I'm spending Christmas in southern Germany, near the Alps. (I went on a walk today and actually saw Alps. Beautiful. Pictures to come.) Usually, it's very cold here at Christmas. It often snows.

All of this information can help you understand why it is absolutely CRAZY that today I strolled around in the sunshine at about 50°F (around 10°C), while it was 28°F (around -2°C) in Fort Worth, Texas. And it looked like this.

Seriously. The only Christmas I haven't spent at home is the first White Christmas during my lifetime. Of course it is.

Oh well. Moral of the story is: Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, and Frohe Weihnachten from me to all of y'all! Love!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Narbonne does Noël

It's Christmastime in Narbonne!

Even Carrefour's excited.

Christmas lights - Also, if you look closely, you can see the cathedral behind the first and second trees.

At this point, the tree was half-flocked.

snowmen and palm trees - This made me laugh.

This is a story. I wanted to send some Christmas presents, including edible items, home to my family. When I tried to send a couple chocolates in a package in November, the postwoman stopped me, on account of the United States not permitting food items through the mail. I happen to know you can (at least sometimes) receive food items in the mail, as I have done it before in the States. So I used my own boxes (so the post office wouldn't see what I put inside), but the boxes were covered with words. I covered them with computer paper (Edith's idea), decorated the computer paper (my idea), then sealed them with book covering paper (Violeta's idea). I figured making them as difficult as possible to open would make the customs officers less likely to open them. I also figured they'd see my "drawings" and not want to ruin them. I also hid the food in an old pair of shoes, a tin, etc, so that it wouldn't show up easily on the scanners. Turns out it was a success, because my parents have now received both packages! Bwahaha I win this round, USPS!

Christmas even arrived in my room! Starring (left to right, front to back) Amy, Justin, & Marshall (card), Anthony, Kara, Stayton, & Jake (card), Irene (advent calendar card with Neuschwanstein), my Katy glass (previously referenced), my tortue porte chance (previously mentioned), my santons (Joseph, Jesus, and Mary) which I bought at Narbonne's Christmas market, and my Ferrero Rocher box from Cathy and fam.

Carrefour - 2.50 window decals
cheap Christmas cheer

... even in the bathroom!

Off to a crêperie for a birthday!

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Dörte! (Dörte is German and is the German assistant at my school.)

a galette is a savory (meal) crêpe... one of my favorite French food staples

On the left is Les Halles (our market).

fully-flocked tree

mini ferme de Noël (mini Christmas farm) - basically a petting zoo!

our regular market (Les Halles) decorated for Christmas

Marché de Noël, Narbonne-style

A Marché de Noël (Christmas market) is a big tradition in many countries in Europe (called different things in different countries, of course). You can buy food (like crêpes, pommes d'amour ("apples of love" - candied apples), and gaufres (waffles)), drinks, and various items from vendors. 

Clara and Emily - Clara's looking at the candles, and Emily is distracted! Clara is German and is housemates with Anais, one of the Spanish assistants, and Emily is English and is an English assistant in primary schools.

me with some vin chaud (mulled wine), very traditional in France in winter

These are santons - figurines for the nativity scene. A French nativity scene is called a crèche, but it includes much more than just the Biblical nativity. In Provence, a region in the southeast of France, they started the tradition of the crèche which includes an entire provençal village (produce seller, basket maker, baker, etc). Many families collect a new santon ("little saint") each year.

--- PAUSE ---

While we're talking santons and crèches, I wanted to show you a full crèche. Remember my group of older students? Whom I tutor on Thursday nights at Danièle and Gilbert's house? Well, Danièle and Gilbert have quite an impressive crèche filled with santons from Provence.

--- UNPAUSE ---

(back to the marché de Noël)

Clara and I in awe of the many santons

At this booth, you can make your own garland of lights by choosing the colored balls you like; I bought one and will put up photos later. :)

Joyeux Noël, Narbonne!

And Joyeux Noël to you, my family, friends, and blog readers,
from Narbonne to wherever you are!