Hard to believe we’re nearly halfway through December, and Christmas Day is only 13 days away – eek! The “eek” is no way a comment about my enthusiasm for the holiday as I love Christmas and have been driving the Mr. batty with my (limited) Christmas CD collection that I pretty much play non-stop for the entire month of December. No, instead it’s more a comment on the state of my Christmas shopping, or lack thereof. Yup, I don’t have ANY Christmas gifts purchased yet, people. The good news is that I don’t have to have everything purchased by Christmas Day as I’m actually heading back to the states in January to celebrate a late Christmas, but the bad news is that I have no clue what to buy the eight people I do need to have something for by the 24th. (Those kooky Germans celebrate on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, making hurried and frantic Christmas Eve shopping impossible.) So that means I actually only have 12 shopping days left – double eek! And actually, when you subtract the day I have my final language test and Sundays, there are even fewer shopping days – EEEEEK!
Still, despite the stress, I do love Christmas and we’ve been enjoying the season so far. It kicked off with the Mr.’s family’s annual Advent brunch, and was then followed the next weekend by a lovely visit of some friends from Scotland. We took them to the Würzburg Weinachtsmarkt, and also checked out one of our favorite cities in the area, Bamberg, as they had never been before. Unfortunately, the month-long dryspell we had had with no rain decided to end that weekend and it rained pretty much the entire time, but we didn’t let it dampen our Christmas spirits. We stuffed ourselves full of mulled wine, roasted almonds and sausages.
Advent is observed here in Germany with many families setting up an Adventskranz, or wreath, with one candle to be lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. We haven’t bought an Advent wreath this year, but we did decide to do an Advent calendar. This tradition is observed more often in the UK and the US as I have seen these calendars for sale before in those countries, but not on the scale and in the varieties that the Germans market them. Apart from the normal chocolate ones, you can also buy Advent calendars with other goodies inside, like tea, for example. I’m guessing pretty much every German family has an Advent calendar of some sort. While the Advent season officially begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent calendars start on the 1st of December. They come in pretty much two forms: paper, disposable ones that you buy new every year, and permanent ones that go up year after year and you just need to buy the chocolate or other treats to fill inside. This year I decided to buy a permanent advent calendar that we can put up every year and fill with chocolates. I bought all the bits and bobs to fit inside each mitten, and I was really pleased with how it turned out.
On Saturday, the Mr. and I bought a Christmas tree. You may recall the debacle of last year’s tree, so I was hesitant as to what our plan would be for this year. The Mr. said he was prepared to haul it all the way from that same faraway location as last year, as long as I would help. The weather has been considerably milder this year vs. last (so no snow and ice to contend with), but it still is a long way to carry a big, heavy, cumbersome tree. My response to his suggestion was, “meh,” so I had sort of resigned myself to the idea that we would buy a fake tree online when we discovered the new wonderful, glorious, supermarket of Milano and mac-n-cheese fame is also selling Christmas trees – hurray! I still made the Mr. carry it all the way home (it had ouchy needles, and yes, I am a wuss if that hasn’t become apparent yet) but he made it and we spent Saturday evening stringing the lights and decorating. We only had $20 cash on us and he couldn’t have managed anything huge anyway, so it’s a little dumpy and short but it’s cute. Still, given the painful needles, the hassle of transporting it home, the mess of needles falling off, the need to re-top it with water constantly, and the general lack of evergreen smell, I think I might just order a fake one next year and be done with it. That sounds a little bah-humbugish, I guess, but after having real trees for a while you start to see the advantages of something easy and fake. Guess that’s the American in me 🙂
On Sunday, the Mr. and I decided to check out a Christmas market in a town about a 20-minute bus ride away from Würzburg. We didn’t really know what to expect, and we figured it would be just another small Christmas market as you find in cities and villages all over Germany at this time of year. We like the town, however, and thought it might be nice to visit again anyway. Well, as we started to drive into the town’s boundaries and we saw cars, cars, cars everywhere. Turns out this sleepy little wine village actually puts together one heck of a Christmas market! What we really enjoyed about this market was that many of the “stalls” were actually set up inside the old buildings of the medieval village, which obviously added a great deal of atmosphere to the market. Also, most of the vendors were offering handmade crafts and wares, so it’s a far less commercial Christmas market than most and the atmosphere of the town makes it all the more special. It was so easy to take the bus there and back that I hope we’ll maybe get to go one more time before Christmas.