Christmas Market Tour 2018: Meissen (Saxony)

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December 5th, 2018- the day before St. Nicolas Day. It is a quarter past five in the afternoon, the city center is lit with a wide array of colors, from the buildings flanking the Market Square to the City Hall, to the Church of our Lady. The tree is lit but in a much greener fashion. Huts are filled to the brim with people drinking mulled wine, hot chocolate and tea using the cups that are locally made.  Mushroom Hotdish and Hirtenkäserollen (a meat roll with cream cheese filling) are being dished out and people are having a great time, talking, eating and drinking. The mood is very cheerful and there is not much crowding.

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Suddenly, the attention turns to the stage and the city hall- each window converted to a day in each month of December, thus turning the entire building into a giant Advent Calendar.  The window of the Fifth opens and a unique form of artwork is presented with the question: From which fairy tale does this piece come from?

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The Answer: The Princess and the Pea, a work written by Hans Christian Andersen.

Each open window has a unique drawing and/or painting, all of which are homemade just like the postcards and paintings done by a family that has resided in the community for at least three centuries.  The backdrop of the market is the castle and cathedral on the hill, overlooking a major waterway and the rest of the community. It used to house a royal dynasty until a century ago when they were forced to abdicate because of the Treaty of Versailles.

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People associate the city of Meissen, located 23 kilometers along the River Elbe northwest of Dresden in the German state of Saxony, with its world-famous ceramics, as the Meissen Porcelain Company produces and exports pottery worldwide. Yet they still don’t know what they are missing. As a tip, if one visits Dresden to see the Christmas markets there, one can afford a half-hour trip to Meissen to see this one. There are many reasons to visit Meissen in general, aside from the ceramics:

  1. Albrechtsburg and Meissen Cathedral (Meissner Dom): One cannot miss seeing this tall Gothic architectural artwork which is right next to the Elbe. The castle needed 53 years to be built, having been completed in 1525. It housed the House of Wettin, a dominant force that played a role in the Kingdom of Saxony and later the German empire before 1918. The castle houses the Meissner Dom, which was completed in the 13th Century and is the tallest cathedral in the eastern half of Germany.
  2. The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche): This is located on the western side of the market square. The official name is the St. Afra Church and the church is famous for its organ and especially the bells, all made with Meissen porcelain. The bells play every quarter hour. That church is one of over a dozen that have a historic flavor for Meissen.
  3. The Historic City Center: Featuring the City Hall, several restaurants that have existed for over a century, the Theaterhaus and countless historic houses, people can spend a whole day window shopping, visiting ceramic and painting exhibits and enjoying the culinary dishes that are typical for Meissen and the region.
  4. Domherrenhof: Dating back to the Baroque period (and even further back), this area features a series of walls, steep steps, walkways and bridges surrounding the historic city center and extending from the St. Afra Church, all the way to the Alrechtsburg and Cathedral. The whole pathway provides visitors with a splendid view of the entire city from down below, as well as regions along the Elbe and beyond.
  5. The Meissen Vineyards: This is the signature of the region along the Elbe. Known in Europe as the northernmost vineyards, this area extends for over 60 square kilometers, along the Elbe and deep into the Spaargebirge. Festivals in the spring and fall are dedicated to the planting and harvest of grapes and the production of the wine, most of which you can only find in Saxony.

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But when it comes to Christmas markets and the like, Meissen brings out the best, not just in terms of its porcelain but also in the form of artwork. It goes all the way down to artwork on the Christmas market cups, where each year has a commemoration of some sorts, a different design that includes anything typical of Christmas and Meissen and the writing which turns the standard fonts of Times New Roman into shame. You can have a look at a pair of cups I got from there to find out.

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If you collect Christmas market cups, then Meissen is the place to stop for them.

Another feature of Meissen that one will not see is when visiting Brück and Sons, a store that was established in 1723 and still serves today as not only a bookstore- one of ten that serve the city of 28,000 inhabitants- but also a publisher.  Brück and Sons’ bookstore also has a function as a Christmas specialty store and a local shop. In other words, the store has everything but all homemade.

What does the store have? Nicht leichter als folgendes:

The store features homemade Christmas cards, Advent Calendars and other paper items, all handpainted and all have different themes, whether it is with a Christmas market scene, or a historic place of interest or even a general theme. The artwork there is genuine and is as good or even better than the works of the late Tom Kincade because of its realistic setting and the use of lighting.  If one is looking for something for Christmas, this is one of the seven wonders of Meissen that is worth seeing, especially as the store also offers homemade products, such as liquours, jams (some with whisky in it) and praline candies. The lone exception of products offered at the store are the products imported from Sweden, yet they appear to be homemade.

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But the store is not the only place where a person can stop to shop. Homemade products can also be found at the St. Afra Church. Open every day until 6pm, the church’s  basar sells a wide array of products that are handmade by several different groups, whether they are homemade Christmas stars, paper stars for the Christmas tree, homemade jam, Christmas cards and even some winter-wear, even though during my visit, the temperature was a couple degrees above zero and quite mild.  As a bonus, one can be greeted with some organ music from time to time.

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The booths at the market itself offers a lot of Christmas products that are made from the Ore Mountain region as well as the Vogtland, mostly from the latter. A real treat are the mini-Räuchermänner at a stand at (….). These are mini-incense men which uses mini-cones, half the size of a Räuchermann on average. Also found there are the Christmas Gnomes, which use the normal cones. In Germany, gnomes are becoming popular year round for they used to be found in most gardens in the summer time. Yet in the past five years, the gnomes have found their way to fame on the Christmas stage, either as incense figures or decoration on the Christmas tree.  Yet at the main market, one will find most of the city’s culinary foods, such as mushroom hotdish and Hirtenkäse-Rollchen, and pastries. Yet much of the mulled wine are produced locally, in addition to the hot chocolate.

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The only caveat to Meissen’s Christmas market is the parking. Because of the narrow streets and the close proximity of the buildings, parking and even driving is restricted when going through the Meissen Christmas market. Even the streets leading to the two markets- the smaller one included, is blocked off to ensure the safety of the visitors passing through. Henceforth, it is recommended to use the parking garages to the south and the east of the Christmas markets, including those along the Elbe, and walk to the places directly. They will save the person a lot of time and headaches, especially as the areas are restricted as is. Because most of the buildings are rather historic, there is no leeway in terms of providing better parking possibilities.

However, this may not be even necessary given the charm that Meissen has in general. When walking through the city center for the first time, there was a sense of going back into time where cars were non-existent, and the only way to get around anywhere was on foot. Even the bike trail system is rather restricted because of the narrowness of the streets, combined with the steep grades. Just add the Christmas market in Meissen to the scenery of the old town and one will be in Winter Wonderland. It’s like leaving the stresses of city life and entering a different world when walking through Meissen.  While one could add another theme to the market, such as something Medieval, etc., but it would be somewhat overkill, given the sittiing Meissen has to offer, combined with the points of interest the city has.

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To sum up this visit, there are enough reasons to visit Meissen and spend the day there. The Christmas market is one of the key reasons. It features locally handmade products that go beyond the ceramics the city prides itself on- namely artwork, clothing and anything related to paper. It offers food and drink that is based on what is offered in the region. It has a large, life-sized Advent Calendar that people can look forward to everyday. Even the market itself features events that extend until January 6th. And lastly, the market has a small-town feeling which is atypical for a town as big as Meissen itself is. One does not need to have an overcrowded but popular Christmas market, like in Nuremberg, Berlin and even neighboring Dresden. It just needs that perfect touch that makes the market the place to spend the whole day in. And Meissen is just that when looking at just the Christmas market, alone. The rest is already a given.

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More about Meissen can be found through the following links:

http://www.meissner-weihnacht.de/

https://www.stadt-meissen.de/Advent.html

More photos on the Christmas market in Meissen can be found via facebook (here) and Google (here)

FlFi Christmas 2018

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Buß- und Bettag: Saxony’s Version of Memorial Day…… Or is it?

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In America, we have two different types of memorial days- Memorial Day itself, which honors those who passed on, and Veteran’s Day, which honors and also memorializes those who fought in all the wars that the US has been involved in to date.  The first one takes place on the last Monday of every May and is considered a statutory non-working holiday. There, flowers are lain on the graves of those lost. Parades honoring the fallen and church services are held on that day.  Veteran’s Day was introduced over 100 years ago as part of the Treaty of Armistice, thus declaring World War I officially over on the 11th of November, 1918 at the 11th minute of the 11th hour. Governmental offices and most businesses and schools are closed on that day, pending on the individual state’s guidelines,  and the holiday is celebrated in many ways- be it parades or other ceremonies, public addresses or other civil gatherings.

In Germany we have one holiday that has the equivalence to Memorial Day but has, as one person had put it in an interview, become a long-forgotten holiday.  Buß und Bett Tag, known as the Day of Repentance and Prayer if translated into English, was first introduced by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1878 and got its origins from the days after Martin Luther’s Reformation in 1532 as Emperor Charles V proclaimed, at the behest of the Protestants, to commemorate the Ottoman conquest of the Holy Roman Empire in 1354. When the Prussian Empire succumbed to the German Empire in 1871, the day was later adopted in all of the newly-formed German states, where the Day of Prayer was to take place either 11 days before the first Advent and/or before the 23rd of November- as originally declared during Prussia’s existence.  That day was abolished in 1934 by Hitler and was only partially lifted in the 1960s, where only the western half celebrated it and the eastern half was banned from celebrating it by the SED_dictatorship.

It was not until 1990 when a newly-reunified Germany reintroduced it to all the states, but only temporarily. In 1994, the government under Kohl introduced a bill to reform the health care and social security system, requiring more payments into the system and people to work more hours. As part of the package, all the federal states voted to add a day onto the working schedule, hence the elimination of Buß und Bett Tag.

All of them except Saxony.  In Bavaria, it is still a working holiday but the children have the day off from school.

While Buß und Bett Tag is practiced today in those two states, there are many theories as to how people still interpret this day. It is a non-working holiday in Saxony, going by the proclamation by the book, yet the residents are required to pay 13-15% more into the health care fund for that day. When asked what people do on that day, the response: We travel to the Czech Republic, or to the neighboring states because there are businesse open there.

Has Buß und Bett Tag become the long-forgotten holiday, as forgotten as the Sunday ritual of going to church? I decided to find out how it is celebrated to this day. Being a member of a church choir for the day, I earned a free pass to see how the holiday is observed, and this is what I found:

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It turns out, Buß und Bett Tag is not only the time to remember the people who died, but it is a time of reflection of our own past actions and what we can do to right the wrongs done onto others. Pending on which church a person attends in Saxony, the holiday brings people together for over an hour of church service. Yet in other cases, concerts are added to the mix, using songs that honor the people and their relationship with the Lord.  At a church in Zwickau, the congregation was treated to a short skit in connection with the Lost Son (the book of Luke 15:11-32)  but in modern form, followed by a sermon on how forgiveness and reconciliation far outweigh the sins committed onto others. Lessons on how to treat others well despite their backgrounds reinforce the meaning of the holiday  in terms of reflection.  At a church in Glauchau, a choir concert, featuring two choirs and an orchestra, rocking to the tunes of John Rutter and Antonin Dvorak honor the dead and those retiring from the years of hard work, thus stressing the meaning of the holiday in terms of honor.

Still, the number of people participating in these events are relatively small, running parallel to the problems America is currently facing with a decline in church attendance and the forced consolidation of two or more congretations.  And while the majority of church-goers in the US are over 50 years of age, in Germany, there seems to be an even proportion of people paying respects to the Lord, including families (especially with children), friends and strangers.  From the view of the majoirty, when looking at the scene on this day, one can see children playing, families catching up on housework and even small businesses doing overtime to set up the huts for the Christmas market, which starts on the following weekend in the first Advent.  Despite this trend, it does not mean one needs to follow the suit of the other states by “getting with the program” and abolishing this sacred day.  Granted unions have been striving to push for the abolition of extra pay into the health care and pensioner’s fund citing its irrelevance to today’s standards.

Judging from my observations, having a day like Buß und Bett Tag could be a blessing even if it is considered the official day of rest. Most countries in the western hemisphere have a special day commemorating the living and the dead, honoring them for their work. If each state in Germany was to follow what is being followed in Saxony, it would serve as an opportunity for all people to honor and pay tribute to those who deserved it, pray for those who are in need (and find ways to help them), and repent for the sins done onto others (and again find ways to forgive them).  One doesn’t need to have a fancy ceremony, like parades and the like, as seen in Memorial Day celebrations, but simply church services, charitable events and concerts with the themes of reflection and tribute, as seen here in Saxony. Anything more than that would be considered overkill.

Many of us seem to forget the real meaning of family and friendship, respecting and honoring some and helping others because we are all consumed by work, individual gratification and materialistic items. In fact some holidays, like Christmas and Easter have become so materialistic and sometimes ignored, that their underlying meanings have become very irrelevant.  When we think of only Father Christmas/ Santa Claus/ Der Weihnachtsmann and the presents we receive from them, then it is time to reexamine ourselves and look at the real meaning of these holidays, which means the life of Christ, and the meaning of the people in our lives whom we care about.

Therefore, we should keep this day of remembrance and reflection, so that we can remember the people who made a difference in our lives, reflect on what we have done and what we should do differently and especially, reconsider some things in our lives because of the potential for failure. Buß und Bett Tag has a much thorougher meaning than what has been perceived. It’s not just a day of rest, but a day to look back and look forward. While Germany has many holidays, these holidays are meant for a time of rest, reflection, reunions and gatherings and refueling ourselves for work. By eliminating even one day for the purpose of work,  we take away more than that day to spend it for ourselves and our families and friends.  Therefore, when having another day like this one in the future, think about what we have and what we have done (or should be doing). A little time of reflection and remembrance will help a person go an even longer way.

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The biblical origin of this day stems from the book of Jonah, which states the following:

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not

Jonah 3:4-10

 

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We’re Fine. It’s You We’re Worried About- Info-prying and the attempt to Make America Conform Again

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In a democracy, there is no such thing as conformity. We can unite but have different opinions and ideas on how to solve problems, as long as we respect them, and especially as long as they are appropriate in today’s situation.  Democracy ends when we are forced to conform to the practices that are considered harmful to oneself and those affected.  America has never been the democratic state that it was 50 years ago, nor has it never been what it should be- a country where everyone, regardless of race, religion, socio-economic background or even now in Trump’s America, political affiliation, has the right to vote, express themselves freely, and do something for the good of others.  It has become a state of conformity, where if you do not share the opinions and feelings of the other side, even though you do not like them, then you are looked down upon, defamed and shamed in front of others.

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Growing up in a poor family in rural Minnesota, the idea of a “conformed state” had more to do with the type of clothes a person wore, the type of car a person was driving (if the person owned a car at that time), who you were dating, whether or not you were a macho-man, what types of jobs your parents had and the religious denomination you you were associated with, if you were attending church regularly on a Sunday. America still lives in that conformed state today, despite attempts to include everyone based on race, religion, socio-economic background, opinions on the current events of today, sexual preferences and even preference for certain foods- veering away from meat products and embracing vegetarianism and veganism. But given the situation we have been working with since Trump won the elections in November 2016, we are rolling back the prejudices against these minorities and engaging in McCarthyism 2.0, namely scrutinizing the people based on political affiliation. Gone away are the political discussions that were once constructive and meaningful, we are engaging in “throat-cutting” scare-tactics, where any opinion you say about the problems in the US can be used against you with physical force, social networking force (including the use of facebook and twitter), or through naming and shaming in public.

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Yet there is a new weapon that is being used in American society that my wife, daughter and I noticed during our road trip through the Midwest this past summer, and that is “Info-Prying.” Info-prying is the process of interrogating foreigners, especially those living in Europe, as to finding out what exactly is going on outside the US, in hopes to extract information and start a political discussion. “Info-Prying” is being done by three different parties: 1. Those who felt misinterpreted by the media because of Trump’s constant attacks and want to know the real truth, 2. Those who want a confirmation of Trump’s claims and want to pick a fight to support their claims, and 3. Those who really want a conversation about the problems facing America under Trump.  Sadly, based on the observations, the majority of Americans belong to either points 1 and 2, and there is a dwindling minority belonging to number 3.

Why is that, exactly? Think about that for a minute.

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One of the interpretations that can be quickly explained is Trump’s conditioning of the American public into believing everything he says. However, Trump’s supporters still belong in the minority. Since having taken office in January 2017, an average of only 42% of Americans support the president and his rather ubiquitous policies, whereas 56% of the public would like to see him gone sooner than later. Still when asking around the neighborhood to find out whether or not they are safe living in peaceful co-existence between a Democrat and a Republican, most will agree that the answer to that question is “no.”  Reason: because whenever a person states an opinion with a Trump supporter, it is met with violence.  And while it is easy to “unfriend” or delete someone from a facebook network, meeting that person with physical violence and with guns can have an everlasting effect on the person stating the facts.  Families have fallen apart because of the effects of Trump’s rhetoric in pitting family members against each other. Best friends have because strangers because of their own political opinions. And one out of ten Americans have admitted leaving the country should Trump be re-elected; just as many as the rate of American expatriates, including myself, who are considering ditching their American passports, once and for all.

 

With all these facts in mind, we had to be very careful as to what we said to those who tried to “info-pry” us about the problems in Europe, for relations between the US and Europe have been frigid since Trump took over in January 2017. The information on the invasion of immigrants in Europe and how they were committing vast amounts of crime, as broadcasted by Breitbart and other right-wing networks were highly over-exaggerated. Despite the infamous attacks during the New Year’s celebrations in Cologne and Hamburg in 2015, combined with the events in Chemnitz this year and trucks being used as weapons, these incidents were only arbitrary and despite measures to curb this type of violence, which includes deporting those with a criminal record and having barriers set up to keep vehicles out of pedestrian areas, the crime rate in Europe is lower among immigrants than the natives who were born there. In fact, most of the crimes committed by the immigrants have been petty- whether they are burglaries, theft or fake IDs. We do have incidents involving those who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but they are fewer than what was reported by Breitbart . So in other words, Europe is not as black as what the media says. It is going far right, which is a scary trend, but that is because of home-grown fears that the immigrants will dominate the scene with their own language instead of adopting the German language, let alone the lingua franca language in English and French. Politicians from the Social Democrats, to the Greens and to even the Conservative Christian Democrats know the problems and are working to integrate those who want to live in Europe, even if it’s for a while. This integration comes with the lesson of understanding cultures and social backgrounds, which Europe has long profited from, learning the lessons from World War II and the Cold War.

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So to sum up the answer of whether Europe is going to be run over, becoming an Islamic State, as some of the info-pryers had tried to get out of us, the answer is “no.” We are doing fine. We know the problems that are facing Europe with the immigrants, but that is something we can handle.

The problem is how Americans are doing at home. That is what nine out of ten Europeans are concerned about. How can we deal with “info-pryers” who are modestly wanting answers but most of them want to pick a fight and support Trump?

Americans have a lot of issues to deal with at home, all of them are home-grown and growing every year. Yet they seem to ignore thees problems at home and try to find problems outside the country, where they are either non-existent or those where they can be solved by those who know the problem and don’t need any American advice.

Therefore, our only answers that came out to those who tried to pry open the can full of issues in Europe: “We’re doing fine. It is you guys we are worried about. We’re worried that your own problems are mounting and in the end, cannot be handled anymore.”  While one person from the group, who asked about Europe’s problems, eventually agreed to the fact that America does have a big problem- bigger than Europe’s own set, others turned a blind eye saying America is great, thanks to Trump. But little do they realize, America’s Roman Empire is crumbling every year, bit by bit, and if America is to be great again, it needs to conform to the changing trends outside its realm in order for any generation to benefit what American stood for, over a half century ago, which is democracy, openness, pursuit of happiness, and embracing change, but keeping to these principles, which has been accepted by Europe and other countries.

The America we know right now isn’t that America. It’s too materialistic, too fanatical and too invasive. Scale back and take care of yourselves first, because we are doing fine. When your house is in order and the country is with the program regarding even the three most important items facing our planet: the environment, human rights and modernizing the infrastructure, we can talk. Right now, info-pryers don’t have a place in our lives and the lives of other people we know personally.  Thank you.

 

Fl Fi USA

 

 

 

Guest Post: 100 Signs that you have lived in Germany for too long

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Author’s comment: After living in a foreign country for a long time, one tends to pick up habits that coincide with the standard way of life of the country you are living in. And while the habits are easy to acquire, they are even difficult to get rid of. And as you can see in the guest column, written by the California Globetrotter who has been living in Germany for a long time, these habits can serve as a blessing than a curse. Have a look at the 100 habits that are typically German, from her point of view: 

 

After recently spending 7 weeks in the US, trying to decide if we wanted to move back, I realized how much I have changed in my 6 years living in Germany. Life in Germany is so comfortable, easy and relaxed. There is Ordnung to everything that we do here and over time, the rigid rules Germans live by eventually become daily habits, you hardly notice that they no longer bother you, but more that without them you don’t know what to do with yourself. When you leave the country for an extended amount of time you suddenly find yourself aching to get back as quickly as possible.

Here I list 100 ways you may have changed after living in Germany for so long, picking up some of the German habits so much that perhaps now you actually pass as a German! These days you probably feel more German than you do American or any other nationality you might be. You eat, sleep and breath German that should you return home, you might go through a bit of a reverse culture shock. You honestly don’t realize how much life as an expat in Germany changes you until you return home and struggle with the cultural differences. You might even say you go through a little bit of an identity crisis as you try to fit into both cultures.

This post previously had another titled and about half the signs, but it dawned on me just how much I had been Germafied, I decided to entirely rewrite it.

Think You’ve Become Germanized? PIN IT FOR LATER!!

100 Signs You've Lived in Germany For Too Long! | Life in Germany | Expat in Germany | German Culture | Things Germans Do | American Expat in Germany | Germany vs US | US vs Germany | Cultural Differences Between Germany and USA | German Habits | #Expat #ExpatinGermany #AmericanExpat #Germany - California Globetrotter

Tips for Visiting Germany

1) You obsessively recycle plastic, paper, glass and compost and are aware of how important it is to be environmentally friendly, that when you go places you are angry that the rest of the world doesn’t have as good of a recycling network.

2) Your year hasn’t been complete until you have gone to several German Christmas Markets.

Regensburg Christmas Market

3) You no longer say, “You work at Starbucks, don’t you?” but instead ask “You work at Starbucks, or?” (Du arbeitest bei Starbucks, oder?”)

4) Your driving skills are impeccable and you now have road rage when someone doesn’t obey the road rules.

5) You hate driving anywhere else outside of Germany for lack of efficient road rules and sections with unlimited speed limits.

6) You always carry an extra shopping bag in your purse/backpack at all times so as to save a plastic bag and not pay .20cents for a new bag each time you go shopping.

7) You stand at the ready with your wallet, cash/cards out and can effectively pack your groceries in your backpack/bag perfectly in under 2 minutes without holding up the line.

8) You no longer cringe at un-refrigerated milk and eggs.

9) You yell at people for riding their bikes in the wrong direction or on the sidewalk! GEISTERRADLER!!

10) You can no loner tolerate people playing loud music or talking loudly on public transportation.

11) You no longer cross the street at a red light or J-walk for fear that you will loose your driver’s license, even if there is no car in sight.

12) Your weekend is not complete without a proper continental breakfast.

The ULTIMATE Foodie Guide to Eating in Germany

13) You now enjoy a shot of espresso after any meal.

14) You enjoy family get-togethers revolving around coffee and cake in the afternoon.

15) After a big, heavy meal, you now enjoy a Willie!

16) Your alcohol tolerance has increased and you can now drink like a German!

17) You religiously believe that German beer is far superior to all others and take the Reinheitsgebot “German Beer Purity Law” seriously.

Regensburg Dult

18) You’re a bratwurst snob! Currywurst. Bockwurst. Weißwurst usw.

19) You can make a damn good schnitzel / cordon bleu.

20) You enjoy seasonal meals in Germany such as Spargel mit Kartoffeln, Zwiebelkuchen mit Federweißer or Kürbissuppe.

21) You no longer startle Germans by greeting them with “Hello, how are you?” but instead say “Guten Morgen” or “Servus”.

22) You say hello to complete strangers whenever you walk into a room, an elevator or even walking up/down the stairs.

23) You have more types of insurance than you know what to do with them.

24) You actually pledge allegiance to a football team in Germany or support the German team during the World Cup / Euro Cup.

25) You shower at lightning speed and turning off water while you lather yourself in soap before rinsing off.

26) You grumble when a shower doesn’t have a removable shower head.

27) You’re always punktlich no matter where you go.

28) Shopping on a Sunday suddenly feel so very, very wrong and you treasure the few Sundays a year where shops are actually open.

29) You walk faster for no apparent reason whatsoever.

30) You automatically take your shoes off whenever entering someone’s house and willingly use a pair of Hausschuhe.

 

Continue reading the rest by clicking here. 

 

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Germany Quiz 8: Part III: The Inventions from Saxony- Answer Key

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And now, the answers to Part III of the Guessing Quiz on the Inventions and Inventors from Saxony. Are you ready to find out? 🙂

Part 1: Which of the items in the group were invented from Saxony. Choose the ones you think were invented in Saxony and explain your reasons why. 

gas lantern        tissue paper       wrist watch band             light bulb

mile marker      tea bag               sugar cookies                  steam locomotive

street food        coffee filter       personal computer        daily newspaper

bicycle                laundry detergent          mouthwash       telephone

brandy               beer cap             encyclopedia                   Bible

Gas Lantern- The first gas lantern for streets was erected in 1811 in the Fischergasse in Freiberg. The inventor: Wilhelm August Lampadius, who was a teacher at the Bergakademie (Now TU-Freiberg)

Wrist Watch Band- The watchband was invented for men in 1959 in Glasshütte.

Mile Marker- Adam Friedrich Zürner introduced the mile marker (in historic terms, mile posts) in 1713 to measure the distance between towns in Saxony. According to his geographical surveys he created, two post miles equalled 9.062 kilometers, an equivalent to two-hours walk. Today one can find 200 of these ancient posts, plus 60 distance posts throughout Saxony, including Leipzig, Geithain, Dresden, Großenhain and in the Lausitz region, just to name a few.

Tea Bag- R. Seelig and Hille Tea company in Dresden developed the first tea bag in 1929, which one will see in the boxes of tea in today’s grocery stores and supermarkets. The inventor was Adolf Rambold.

Personal Computer- Konrad Zuse invented the first personal computer, the Z3 in Berlin, in 1943. This was 14 years after he obtained his high school degree in Hoyerswerda, in northeastern Saxony.

Coffee Filter- Melitta Bentz from Dresden, developed the first coffee filter in 1908 with the goal of ensuring the last drop didn’t consist of coffee ground. The filter led to her creating the Melitta Coffee Company, which later moved to Munich. Melitta machte Kaffee wirklich zum Genuss. 🙂

Steam Locomotive- While Great Britain was the birthplace of the steam locomotive thanks to the inventions patented by William Murdoch (1784) and William Reynolds (1787), the first steam locomotive in Germany was the Saxonia, invented by Johann Andreas Schubert in 1838 and used for the country’s first rail line between Leipzig and Dresden.

Daily Newspaper- Two years after the end of the 30-Years War, the first daily newspaper was open to business in Leipzig, in 1850. Tim Ritzsch’s concept at that time was to inform the public of events in the city, six days a week. All done using the Guttenberg press. You can imagine how many people were hired to do the lettering and pressing at that time. 😉

Laundry Detergent- While in Saxony, one will be familiar with FEWA. It was not only an East German product, it was the first laundry detergent used for washing machines. The Chemnitz-based firm patented the first detergent in 1932; the inventor was Heinrich Gottlob Bertsch. It was perfect timing as laundry soap was not doing the (modern-day) washing machine, also invented in Saxony (in Schwarzenberg) 30 years earlier, any favors.

Mouthwash-  When a person had bad-breath during the 1700s, the only solutiion was to wash the mouth out with soap. In 1892, Karl August Lingner  solved that problem and invented the Odol Mouthwash. Today one will associate Odol with this unique invention which can be mixed with water and used for rinsing out the mouth, cleansing it of bad breath. So much for the soap and water unless your child swears a lot. 😉

Brandy- Christian Traugott Hünlich from Wilthen put Germany on the map with his creation of Brandy in 1842. It became so successful that it won a gold medal at the World Expo in Paris, 58 years later.

Beer Cap- Robert Sputh invented the modern-day beer cap in 1892. Yet unlike the screw cap that had been introduced by Pittsburghese Hymann Frank 20 years earlier, Sputh’s invention was tighter and required opening only with the bottle opener; not by twisting. 😉

 

 

Part 2:  Find out whether the following items originated from Saxony or not. Mark each one with a Y (yes) and N (no).  For each one from Saxony, guess at when it was introduced. 

  1. Thermos-flask (Thermoskanne)- YES; in 1881 by Adolf Ferdinand Weinhold of Chemnitz
  2. Coffee cup (Kaffeetasse)               NO
  3. Pottery                                              _NO-The art of making things of clay dates back to the stone age
  4. University of Technology              YES- The Technical University in Freiberg was founded in 1765 under the name Bergakademie (Academy for Miners). The TUF still exists today. 
  5. Cassette tape (Tonband)                YES- Fritz Pfleumer, an engineer from Dresden, developed and patented this in 1928
  6. Wine glass                                        NO
  7. Diesel engine                                    NO
  8. Toothpaste                                        YES- Ottomar Heinsius von Mayenburg, a chemist in Dresden invented this product in 1907, under the name Chlorodont. It was the forerunner to present-day toothpaste.  Ironically, it was the sucessor to another invention from Saxony, toothsoap, which had been created in 1852 by Adolf Heinrich August Bergmann, another pharmacist from Waldheim. 
  9. Cantilever truss bridge                  NO
  10. 35 mm Camera                                  YES- The Contax was introduced by the Carl-Zeiss Company in Dresden in 1932 and innovated again in 1949. It was the forerunner to the present-day 35mm camera but with mirror reflex anf now with SD-card. 

 

 

Part 3.  Choose the best answer for the following questions below.

  1. Homoeopathy, invented by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, focuses on the following two aspects:

        a.  Mentality and physical illness                b. Pills and viruses

          c. Ecstasy and psychology                            d. the brain and the body

  2. Aktendulli, known as file fasteners in English, is used to…..

        a. Fasten files in binders                         b. Build log cabins with dowels

        c. Sharpen pencils                                    d. Jack up the car in the event                                                                                                                  of a flat tire.

 3. In what year was the freon (FCKW)-free refridgerator invented and where?

Part a.         1895             1935              1993              2003             2018

Part b.          Schwarzenberg     Scharfenstein    Schlettau      Aue      Zwickau

 

   4. The “Plauener Spitze” is in reference to this type of manufacturing of fabric?

   a. Jeans         b. Embroidery       c. Baseball Caps               d. Dress shirts   

5.  Which city in Saxony was the birth place of the ceramic-ware we still see at the pottery market?

    a. Radebeul          b. Dresden        c. Meissen            d. Riesa         e.Leipzig

 

Bonus Question:  The Göltzschtal Viaduct, as seen in the picture above, is the first brick stone railroad viaduct in the world. True or false? 

False. It holds the title as the longest of its kind, and at one time, it was the tallest. Yet evidence points to another brick stone railroad bridge at Wurzen (east of Leipzig). Built in 1836, it is the oldest operating railroad bridge in Germany and still serves rail traffic today. 

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There are plenty of sources that focus on the inventions from Saxony. Apart from this book above, you can also click on the links below, where you can read up on the facts. All the quiz questions come from the two links.

http://www.die-sachsen-kommen.de/shtm/erfindungen.htm#TH

https://mmt.inf.tu-dresden.de/Lehre/Sommersemester_05/Praktikum_MG/ergebnisse/16a/erfindungen.html

 

 

 

 

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Germany Quiz 8: Saxony Part II- The Answers

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View of Leipzig’s skyline. Photo taken in October 2017

After trying out the quiz and testing your knowledge about the German state of Saxony, here are the answers to the Guessing Quiz. Due to the length of the quiz, I decided to split the answers into general terms and those of the bridges in Saxony. To find out the results of the bridge portion of the quiz, go to the sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles by clicking here. Otherwise, here are the results of the quiz about Saxony.  Are you ready for the answers? 🙂

What is the capital of Saxony?

Leipzig               Meissen                   Zwickau                Dresden                 Görlitz           Wilkau-Hasslau

 

Which city in Saxony does NOT have an equivalent in the USA? Mark all that apply.

Dresden          Zwickau          Zittau              Leipzig           Meerane         Waldenburg

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Waldenburg can be found in Michigan and Arkansas

Dresden can be found in Ohio, Maine, New York, Missouri and Tennessee

Leipzig can be found in North Dakota under New Leipzig

Zittau can be found in Wisconsin

 

Which city in Saxony does NOT have a sister city in the USA?

Glauchau      Dresden      Freiberg     Leipzig    Zwickau   Riesa

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Glauchau’s sister city is Lynchburg (Virginia)

Columbus (Ohio) is Dresden‘s sister city

Leipzig is twinned with Houston (Texas)

Riesa’s sister is located in Sandy (Utah)

 

Which rivers do NOT flow through Saxony?

Elbe             Mulde                Saale            Neisse              Danube

 

Which city does NOT have nearby lakes/reservoirs? Mark all that apply.

Leipzig                   Glauchau                  Plauen                 Meissen                Reichenbach

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Plauen is located between two reservoirs, Pöhl and Pirk. The Pöhl is between Plauen and Reichenbach yet it is closer to the former.  Leipzig has the most number of lakes in Saxony, with as many as 35 lakes covering over 90 squared kilometers of metropolitan area including Altenburg (Thuringia) and Halle (Saale).

 

Which city does NOT have a castle or palace?

Zwickau            Dresden             Leipzig        Glauchau        Markkleeberg      Schneeberg

 

Which city in Saxony is located at the Polish-German border and is named in both languages?

Zittau         Bautzen          Oberlausitz           Cottbus        Görlitz       Grimma

 

Which city is the hub of the porcellain industry- you can see their products at the pottery markets throughout all of Germany?

Meissen             Riesa             Hoyerswerda           Werdau           Crimmitschau            Leipzig

 

T/F: The village of Amerika (near Penig) was created in 1839 and was based on the founder’s visit to the USA.

False. There was no known reason behind the founding of Amerika except for the fact that the word also meant for over the pond. The town was centered around a factory created in 1839 bearing the name. Ironically, the town was the filming location for a 1995 movie but the name Amerika was never used there.

 

Germany has one of the oldest race tracks in the country, where race cars and motorcycles convene yearly to this city in Saxony……

a. Görlitz               b. Hohenstein-Ernstthal                     c. Leipzig       d. Hoyerswerda

 

Which of the two cities in Saxony were the site of the infamous beer war in 1731?

  1. Werdau and Crimmitschau
  2. Meerane and Glauchau  The page on the history of the brewery conflict can be found here. 
  3. Zwickau and Aue
  4. Leipzig and Halle

 

Mark the following cities that have a brewery with a check mark and circle the cities that have a liquour distillery.

Chemnitz              Meerane                Zwickau             Leipzig                   Dresden              Plauen         Reichenbach         Zittau

Breweries can be found in Chemnitz, Leipzig, Dresden, Plauen, Zwickau and Zittau, whereas distilleries can be found in Meerane, Leipzig, Dresden and even in Aue (Saxony)

 

The Black Triangle, infamous for years of pollution and environmental destruction caused by strip mining, consists of three states meeting near which town in Saxony?  Identify the three states and choose which city.

The three states: Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic

The city:

  1. Bautzen
  2. Görlitz
  3. Zittau
  4. Dresden

 Hint: A beverage named after the region and this city, consisting of  (10%) vodka, (40%) Vita Cola and (50%) Czech beer was created by the author in 2005.

 

Which cities are served by the ICE-train line?  Which ones will be served by the InterCity line beginning in 2023?

Dresden            Chemnitz            Leipzig              Glauchau           Riesa               Bad Schandau

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Dresden and Leipzig are served by the ICE lines connecting them with Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin/Hamburg. Chemnitz used to be served by the ICE line from 2000 to 2002. Yet together with Glauchau, it will be connected to the MDV route connecting Dresden with Cologne via Jena and Erfurt beginning in 2023.

 

T/F: The Leipzig-Dresden Railline, the first railroad line ever built, was completed in 1839

False. It was the third line constructed behind the Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Dusseldorf-Ekrath lines, both were open in 1838. Note, these are steampower-driven rail lines here. 

 

Mark the following cities that have a professional soccer team (1, 2 and 3rd leagues) with an X, a professional handball team (1st and 2nd leagues) with a check-mark, and check-mark the cities that have an American football team.

Aue        Dresden         Leipzig          Meerane        Zwickau            Chemnitz           Glauchau

Soccer: RB Leipzig (1st), Dynamo Dresden, Erzgebirge Aue (2nd) and FSV Zwickau (3rd)  FC Chemnitz was in the 3rd league until its forced demotion due to bankruptcy in 2018. It plays in the 4th league.

Handball: SC Leipzig (men- 1st)  HC Leipzig (women) used to play in the 1st league until its forced demotion due to bankruptcy in 2017. It plays in the 3rd league.

American Football: Dresden Monarchs, Chemnitz Crusaders

 

T/F: FC Dynamo Dresden is the only team from Saxony that has defeated FC Bayern Munich in a soccer match.

False. In 1973, Dresden and Munich played in the European Cup, making it the first East-West German soccer match in history. The team lost 8-7 in two games (4:3 and 3:3)

 

How many soccer teams does Leipzig have, including the Red Bull Team?

23 teams including the women’s teams and RB Leipzig. Also included: Inter-Leipzig, Chemie Leipzig and Locomotive Leipzig

 

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Information about the Christmas markets in Saxony:

The oldest Christmas market known to man can be found in which city?

a. Dresden    b. Leipzig    c. Bautzen       d. Nuremberg             e. Glauchau

fast fact logo  King Wenzel created the Bautzen market in the winter of 1384, thus making it the oldest known Christmas market in Germany.

 

The origin of the Stollen (the German fruit cake with raisins and powdered sugar) originated from which city?

a.  Plauen   b. Naumburg (Saale)    c. Dresden      d. Rochlitz      e. Flöha

 

The shortest Christmas market in Germany can be found in this city?

a. Glauchau     b. Crimmitschau     c. Werdau       d. Meerane     e. Aue

fast fact logo For only three hours on one Sunday in the Advent period, this Christmas market with a concert and all takes place in this small community.

 

Which region in Saxony was the birthplace of the Schwibbogen (Christmas arch)?

a. Ore Mountains      b. Vogtland        c. Lausitz Region       d. Black Triangle

fast fact logo In fact, the first known Schwibbogen was discovered in Johanngeorgenstadt in 1740. Others were discovered in Schwarzenberg in the 1800s. Hohndorf holds the Schwibbogen festival during the second Advent every year.

 

T/F: Customary of a Christmas market in Saxony is the parade of miners in the villages Ore Mountains.  If true, name at least one town that does host this.

True. One can find the miners parades in Annaberg-Buchholz and Schneeberg as the most popular places every Christmas but also in smaller towns in the mountains.

 

T/F: Räuchermänner were common but rare decorations during the East German Communist era.

True. Many of these incense people were handmade and exported to countries outside East Germany, although some tried successfully to smuggle them home to be given as Christmas gifts.

 

T/F:  Pulsnitzer Kekse is a cake with a jelly filling that can be found at a Christmas market in Saxony.

True. In fact, a Christmas market in Saxony is not complete without this specialty that was found in the village near Dresden. 

 

Which Christmas market does NOT have a castle setting?

a. Wolkenburg          b. Glauchau         c. Zwickau                  d. Crimmitschau                                         e. Waldenburg

 

Who is the disco-king in this picture? Have a look in the activities below.  😉

Information on the Personalities from Saxony:

Look at the quasi-autobiography of these personalities of Saxony and guess who they are. The first and last letters of the names are given. Some research is required. Good luck! 🙂

  1. I was born in Chemnitz, which was known at that time as Karl Marx Stadt, and started ice skating at the age of six. I won several gold medals in the Olympics and the world championship in figure skating, while pursuing a side dish career in acting and sports commentator. I was not only the face of East Germany before the Fall of the Wall in 1989 but also one of the best models of all time. Who am I?

Katarina Witt

  1. I was born in Dresden to a family of actors and became one myself. I also love writing and conducting musical pieces and playing golf. While I used to be one of the most outspoken opponents of Communism during the 1989 revolution, I settled down and became the well-known, politically correct, sometimes stuck-up and arrogant professor of forensic medicine in a well-known but very popular “Krimi-series” playing opposite a St. Pauli junkie of a police officer. Who am I?

Jan-Josef Liefers- and yes that was me doing the disco, which I find still mega-embarassing. 😉

  1. I was born in Leipzig but grew up in Potsdam. I started acting in 1982 and have continued this career ever since. I star in many krimi-series including a Tatort series, where the setting is my hometown of Leipzig, and I play the hot, saucy investigator who eventually dies in the arms of my detective partner in the very last episode played in 2015. Who am I?

Simone Thomalla

  1. I was born in Hohenstein-Ernstthal in 1842. While I later became a teacher in Saxony, I started  a life of crime which resulted in me losing my teaching license and being jailed many times. During my time in a prison in Zwickau, I became a librarian and was interested in reading books. It was then when I started writing, having produced several works focusing on the American Wild West, many of which had the character Winnetou in it. I continued writing until I died in 1912 and am buried in a tomb in Radebeul (near Dresden). Who am I?

Karl May

5. I was born in Görlitz in 1976 to a father who was a soccer player and a mother who was a swimmer. I followed my father’s footsteps and started playing soccer at the age of seven, having played for Chemnitz and Kaiserslautern before making my breakthrough with the soccer team Bayer Leverkusen in 2000. There, my aggressive play brought forth many championships with Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and even Chelsea in England. I even became the captain of the German national soccer team before retiring in 2012. Who am I?

Michael  Ballack

  1. I was born in 1873 in Dresden. Even though I was a housewife, I became famous for inventing and patenting the modern coffee filter in 1908. Six years later, I founded the coffee company which still exists today, producing coffee and filters for the coffee machine. I relocated the firm to Minden (Hesse), where I lived to be 77 years old. Who am I?

Melitta Bentz

  1. I was born in a small village in Saxony in 1937, but I became famous for becoming the first German astronaut to fly in space in 1978. After working for the Potsdam Institute for Physics, I later worked for the Russian Institute for Space Education and later for the European Space Agency. I was a household name in East Germany as well as in films. Who am I?

Sigmund Jähn- I was born in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz and a museum dedicated to my work is there to visit today. 

 

  1. I was born in Dresden and learned the trade as a massage therapist and remedial gymnastics teacher. I hated corsets and many of my female clients always had problems with their posture and their sensitive areas. Henceforth, I learned another trade as a seamstress and invented the modern Busenhalter (BH), which is bra in English, in 1899. Because of its simplistic design for these sensitive areas and its sexy appeal, it has since been revolutionized and one can find them in different shapes, sizes and forms, including sports bras and bikinis. Because I was the one who made the bra in Saxony, who am I?

Christine Hardt

 

Which of these statements are true or false?

T/F:  Richard Wagner, composer and founder of the annual Bayreuth Festspiel which takes place in July, originated from Saxony.

True. Wagner was born in 1813 in Leipzig. 

 

T/F: Robert and Clara Schumann, a husband-wife piano duo of the 19th Century, were both born in Zwickau, but married in Leipzig.

Only Robert was born in Zwickau, yet they married in Leipzig. 

 

T/F: Frederike Caroline Neubert, born in Reichenbach, was one of the first female pioneers in acting, having done stage performances in the 1600s.

False. Although she was born in Reichenbach, she was famous on stage a century later. 

 

T/F: The Semper Opera House in Dresden is named after the world renowned composer, Gottfried Semper.

True. He even built the building, completing it in 1841. 

 

T/F: The Princes is a rockmusic band that was created last year in honor and memory of Prince.

False for three reasons: 1. The name Die Prinzen was carried over into English because of the English name existing for a band from Estonia. 2. The band, originating from Leipzig, specializes in a capella music and 3. The band was created in 1987, 29 years before Prince’s passing in Minneapolis. Sorry, no purple rain here. 

 

T/F: Catherine of Bora, who married Martin Luther, originally came from Glauchau.

False. While Glauchau is predominantly religious, Catharine of Bora was from Leipzig. 

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