I first wanted to call this post my first Christmas in Germany, that however, is not quite accurate. As a family we spent Christmas in Germany when I was around 5 or 6 years old, it was a time of great and precious memories. Memories that have accompanied me throughout my life, especially during the warm, ‘unchristmaslike’ Christmases in South Africa / Namibia.
Its been an interesting experience, abound in emotions, strange feelings and a certain sense of loss while trying to find a new routine in a new environment.
The start of the Christmas season started almost as a surprise, Christmas treats, chocolates and German cookies have been in stock since October – lulling one’s senses into the false security of ‘there is still so much time’.
I successfully avoided hoarding tons of German Christmas cookies, and every German South African will know this feeling, ‘We don’t get this in South Africa so buy while you are here to take with’… 🙂 The conversation I had with myself in the shopping aisles would have left any sound-of-mind individual in stitches!
November started with the cordoning off of various spaces around the city… the Christmas Markets were coming. The effort involved is quite fascinating! Then the Advent wreaths were available everywhere… When I say everywhere, I mean… Everywhere, even the supermarkets! Usually in Cape Town you wait until the Advent Market at the Local German church to queue up at 9am sharp to still claim one of the wreaths on sale!
Then just before December took off there were Christmas trees all over the place! Popping up like Christmas tree shaped mushrooms! The Germans have a real talent for decorating their cities when the days are short. Besides the markets, trees were covered in lights, heart shaped lights, star shaped lights and tons of fairy lights. It made everything feel quite magical, a celebration of light!
The markets were quite a treat! Themed wagons / tents each offering a delicious treat or preciousness. From Candles, brushes, wooden games, tree decorations, nativity scenes, touristy things, glass ornaments… the list is truly endless.
The smell… oh my word… the smell – whether your senses get attacked by the smell of a melted Nutella / Marzipan Crepe made by real French speaking servers to the intoxicating warm Glühwein smell that lures in bodies enrobed in jackets and umbrella’s.
But there was a couple of traditions I missed. I missed my Advents Kaffee with my German Family and my friends in Cape Town. I missed the baking day with friends and swapping out different cookies and just having a good time together. I missed sitting outside looking at the night sky (when there is no wind of course!) on Christmas eve and I even missed the warm weather and the long summer days…
And so my first grown-up Germany Christmas passed, there was magic, there was light, there was hope and there was sadness and it made me think… Is that not what Christmas is all about? A little bit of hope, magic, light and a tinge of sadness for time that passed by.
May we all celebrate and treasure the moments that passed, the moments we have and the moments to come!