Tag Archives: the fairytale traveler

Frohe Weihnachten

or Merry Christmas as you would say in English. Alternatively I could wish you many other things for all those other holidays that are celebrated around this time of the year, but I stick with this one today.

A few weeks ago I was asked by the Fairytale Traveler Christa Thompson to write a guest post about the Christmas traditions in Germany.
Between writing my Bachelor’s thesis, getting sick and my laptop deciding to bit its final farewell, I managed to write a bit about how Christmas is celebrated around here. You can find the full post on her website: Christmas Traditions in Germany.
Thanks to TheFairytaleTraveler again for publishing my post. 🙂

Foto eines metallischen Adventskranzes mit vier roten angezündeten Kerzen.
Adventskranz (by SolLuna from Wikimedia)

Christmas is a time for the family to get together, a time of light and a time of wonder. Experiences you gain from your childhood sip into your adult life. For a long time now Santa Claus is just a man in a suit for me, but I still think it’s great that children do believe in this being, this guardian of wonders (A few weeks ago I reflected on my experiences on this Guardian of Childhood).
The lights that shines through the streets at this time of year. The candles that are lighted in the rooms. The Christmas pyramids turning their wheels and creating magical picture on the ceiling. It all has something special, something unique, that isn’t quite the same at any other time of the year. In short you could say: Halloween is fascinating for me because of the darkness surrounding it, Christmas because of its lights.

Also the Christmas markets that you can spend hours at with friends and families. Drinking Glühwein (hot spiced wine), eating Mutzen or roasted almonds. If you pass through a market on an every day basis like I have to with the Weberglockenmarkt in Neubrandenburg you could think you’d become tired of it, but it’s different. If you go there in private the atmosphere becomes different than just going there for lunch or passing through. I can’t explain why, but it just is that way and I don’t mind. This way a Christmas market can still be nice even though you’ve been at it several times.
So far I haven’t been at that many different markets. The most times I was at the ones in Neubrandenburg and Greifswald.
And only this year did I read the story behind the name of the Weberglockenmarkt, which is quite interesting as I might add

In a cold winter night a weaver (Weber) made his way home to Neubrandenburg, home to his family for Christmas. Shortly before he reached his destination he ended up in a horrible snow storm. The storm was that bad that he could not see where he was going. Whether he was coming closer to the city or straying further away.
For hours he wandered through the snowy forests until he heard the bells (Glocken) of the St. Marien church. The sound of those bells finally helping him to find his way or he would have frozen outside the gates of his home town.
In his memory the bells ring throughout Christmas and the market (Markt) gained its name.
(Read the full story in German here: Weberglockengeschichte)

Greifswald was always closer to my home town than Neubrandenburg. But it is a quite charming one with occasionally a Ferris Wheel that allows you to look high above the city, an area for children with booths were different Fairy Tales are portrayed and just a nice atmosphere in the more historic part of the city.
One time visits include Schwerin, Berlin (Gendarmenmarkt) and a small one in Hamburg and passing through the one in Elmshorn.

Schwerin was in my school time when we made a visit to the art museum and finished the trip with a stroll over the market. I can’t really remember it any more though.
The Gendarmenmarkt is a smaller and secluded market in Berlin where you even have to pay a small entrance fee. When I was there with Conan and Plusquamperfekt from The Forum and a childhood friend of mine, several years ago, it was just 1 Euro (as I just found the ticket in a book I’m trying to finish until the 31st). It was also quite full. Full of people and full of interesting (and quite expensive) self made goods. It still had a nice atmosphere for chatting about projects and Fantasy stuff.

I can’t remember which one we visited in Hamburg, but it was only a small one we had chosen for the Christmas staff party for the Eventteam (a small student project team for creating events for the students). It still was a great evening with some former, some current and new members of the team and a nice market.

I would like to see a couple of more markets in the future, even some bigger ones. They, however, have so many attendees that it’s far more stressful than fun and maybe not worth the trouble.

Even though there is much good done throughout the season for my family it unfortunately is also a time of mourning.
It was this day, five years ago that my grandfather passed away.
The first passing I consciously experienced within the direct family and it is still a sad memory. He will always be dearly remembered. Christmas time is a time to remember after all.
To remember what we have, what he have lost and to decide where we can go from there.
With this I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you will have some quiet time with your loved ones.


Happy Halloween

or Samhain or whatever other holiday you are celebrating today.

Halloween or All Hallows‘ Eve is a Christianized feast to remember the dead, based on the traditional Celtic Samhain, that was also thanking for the harvest.
Many tales and traditions entwine around this holiday, such as:

  • (mostly) children dressing up as monsters and the-like to go asking for sweets (Trick-or-Treating) in the neighborhood
  • Jack O Lanterns being put in yards and windows to keep out wandering spirits (One version of the tale around the Lantern can be found at Ed Mooney Photography: The Tale of the Jack O Lantern another here in Nashoba Hostina’s Gallery: Jacks Lantern)
  • even bonfires as you can read in Ed’s other article: Tlachtga and the Sacred Flame

But I don’t really want to cover that part, far too many other people have already done that.

One of my very first pumpkins...

One of my very first pumpkins…

Halloween for me is special because we do not really celebrate it in Germany. Roughly 10-20 years ago, no one even knew about it. Depending on which Federal State you are in you even celebrate other things on the 31. October (and the 1. November).
In the Lutheran regions the 31.10. is called the Reformation Day, a day to remember Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses at the church door in Wittenberg. In my region/state this is considered a civic holiday. Whereas the Catholic regions have the 1.11. (All Saint’s Day) and other’s – like the state I studied in – have neither.
So I grew up with the knowledge of the 31. being the Reformation Day.

When I was about 8 or 9 I first heard about Halloween.
Back then we had evening projects in Primary School and one of them was lead by a woman that had moved to our small town from America. She told us about several things like the language, muffins, traditions and of course: Halloween.
And it then made sense to me why they played spooky cartoons on Reformation Day. 😉
We even had a costume party back then and I remember going as vampire, with a sliced black plastic bag as cape and tediously sought black clothes (back then my wardrobe was a bit more colourful than it is today…) and ridiculous face paint. 😀
That year we also went Trick-or-Treating (as ghost-thingies), but the majority of people around us didn’t really know what that was about, so we had to explain it over and over again. As a result we skipped the Trick-part when they weren’t prepared. By now people know that kids walk around on this day asking for sweets, but they are rarely in costume and, especially the boys, prefer Tricks to Treating….It’s a pity, but I can’t change that.
For a few years my father also grew pumpkins in our garden, so I’d be able to carve them around Halloween. He doesn’t do it anymore as I was barely around the last few years, but it was always fun to create the scary faces – even though they looked never as great as some others do.

One of my wolve-themed pumpkins...

One of my wolve-themed pumpkins…

What also is different in Germany is that there are rarely any Haunted Houses.
There is also not that much decoration in the houses. In Kölln-Reisiek a village or small town close to where I studied is a family that turns their house into a Haunted Mansion every year, it’s only small but somewhat cute. But really large ones? Not that I know of. You have The Dungeon in Hamburg, but that’s not really the same as you can go there throughout the whole year.

Apart from the fact that you are able to buy costumes and sweets and everything, there is not that much celebration going on here and it is one of my goals to one day spent a Halloween in the U.S. and/or other places with Halloween/Samhain traditions to see how it is celebrated there at first hand.

What I like about Halloween is the spookiness that accompanies it. The lores, the legends and just the belief that the souls of the dead and other spirits have the chances to walk freely on earth (again) hold a great fascination for me. Though not just those that are specific for this holiday.
At the beginning of the month I discovered The Fairytale Traveler, a blog about journeys into regions of these things. For the whole October they introduced the people to A Monster a Day, which was pretty cool as I also learned new stories.

Apart from that there are also the Horror stories that accompany Halloween. I don’t mind a good scare, though by now I am more scared by psychological things than, supposedly scary looking creatures. Even though I do cringe at sudden revelations in movies. Occasionally I myself try to write scary stories, but they are more often than not just unfinished drafts. What I did finish is a story about the Owlman of Cornwall. A creature that is said to live in the woods of Mawna and occasionally appears before people. Some even connect him to the Mothman that appears shortly before a disaster. Anyway, if your German is good enough you might want to have a look into the story: Augen (Eyes).
Another story that is fitting for the occasion and rather young compared to the one above is about spirits that inhabit pumpkins and trick people. But I haven’t gotten around to typing it yet.

One of the Pumpkins I carved for the party.

One of the Pumpkins I carved for the party.

But enough about stories, let’s get to the fun part of Halloween: The Halloween Party.
In my semi-adult years I never attended a fully fletched Halloween Party. I organized one for my college, but that wasn’t the same. Even though we decorated the cafeteria barely anyone dressed up or did actually do something remotely Halloween-ish. It was more like a normal party with decorations …

Another Halloween was spent at the Hammerfall concert in Hamburg I mentioned in my concert review from last year, which was pretty cool, yet strange to be there at that time of the year.
As the 31st is not a civic holiday in Schleswig-Holstein (where I studied) I was only able to go to the small Haunted Mansion I talked about earlier last year.
But this year will be a bit different.
I will be in Hamburg again and though we do not know what we’ll do at Halloween itself we (Black Kat, Iron Eve and me) will go to the Hellnights on the 1. November. A Horror punk concert-festival with The Other and other bands.
Or to put it into one of my much liked alliterations:
Halloween in Hamburg and Horrorpunk Hellnights in the Hafenklang.
(Just like Hammerfall in Hamburg on Halloween 😉 ).

I’m curious what will happen and wish you all a save journey through the spirit-filled night. 🙂