Has been awhile since I posted someat on this topic. So here goes with some comparisons between British and German traditions. What you do in blighty and what I do now.
- One thing you can guarantee like the wrong snow stopping trains running in winter is what will be on the goggle box. On the island the TV Times will have showings of A Christmas Carol, Wizard of Oz and a Wonderful Life. Each having there fine merits. But just in case you have missed them, find the more unusual Wizard of Oz starring Michael Jackson, or Jim Carrey’s voice in Tim Burton’s version of A Christmas Carol. The former cheesy, and the latter if not a Nightmare before Christmas still creepily quirky in that ineffable Burton way. Likewise jam tarts, lemon curds, mince pies and tea accompany the Queens speech at 3 on Christmas Day for most families, and mine probably still design there gorging around not missing what Lizzie has to say to the huddled masses. A family tradition that holds so strong, even as I reluctantly have to suffer (coz of my republican tendencies) this bumcum. In Germany though I have never seen the Chancellor speaking at New Year, and the President at Christmas, and to be honest had to get the know from an ex student of mine (thanks Eva). Some Germans no doubt watch them, but I doubt the numbers of the staunchly Monarchist Brits. However a year does not go by where you can avoid watching Dinner for One. For the uninitiated, that means anyone in Britain who has never lived here. The most popular version being a German production of the theatre piece, made in English; the main culprits being Miss Sophie, and her hard done to Butler, James. A very English theme you have to hold your hands up to. It is a short piece, running for all of 20 mins of hilarity as James gets more and more inebriated, having to drink for all of Miss Sophie’s been long pushing up the daisies guests. Just like the watching of this, her dinner party tradition is just as hard to break, so by the end James is as drunk as a lord, not as sober as a stick.
- Many may not know but back in the days of yore, we Brits ate Goose, peasant or wild boar. The history says that Henry VIII was the first monarch to partake in the poultry tradition of Turkey. Debate ensues as to if William the Conqueror and his court really introduced it, or returning American migrants made it as popular as it is today. We may eat hams or duck or such, but the Turkey is usually before the cake, with a lavishing of gravy, over spuds, carrots, maybe parsnips. and if you are really unlucky, as I was as a child, brussel sprouts. The Christmas pud (plum or dried fruit) with custard or rum sauce is a tradition of my family. As used to be the sherry soaked dried fruit Christmas cake. A home made mother’s recipe that I miss, like the aforementioned tarts and pies. Here in Germany the tradition is not Turkey on the afternoon of the 25th, but goose, dumplings, red cabbage and red wine of course with a fruit or ice cream dessert, with my German family anyway. Gran is the Meister Chef, and the parent in laws usually do Abendbrot the night before with cold meat cuts, fish and often potato salad. This is because of pressies. Santa and Nicolaus have been fighting it out for years in my ears. Put em in the ring and my money over ten rounds would be on the plump heavyweight in the red suit. Pressies are opened early on the 25th in England, and if you have kids this could mean someat like 6 a.m. German parents be grateful you do not have to witness the hullaballoo of ripping open presents and tears of disappointment when you should really be catching your winks. If I am not visiting my parents, we open the pressies here at a more civilized hour of the early evening on the 24th; no pressies under the tree, or in stockings. And certainly no hiding in the toy box to catch a glimpse of Santa . A tip for good parenthood; check the toy box for a sleeping 6 year old, like I was. I had the will, just not the endurance of a Duracel bunny to last the night. An English Santa will get his plumpness and rosy cheeks from another tradition they have of kids feeding him mince pies and his favourite tipple of Sherry. As a kid I started to wonder if Santa was an alcoholic and had the constitution of an Ox to survive his Christmas Eve delivery rounds.
- The Brits luv to dress up for their work parties and at Christmas dinner you have to wear a hat, pull a cracker and your face at the wonderba toy and joke inside e.g. What did the dolphin say when his mate accidentally bumped into him? – you did that on porpoise. You may get some Germans dressing up for the Xmas party, but dressing to the nines for your crimes is more left by them for carnival a few weeks later.
- We cannot let the festivities go by without a toast. Favourite tipples here are Glühwein (mulled wine),
Feuerzangenbowle (rum soaked sugar in mulled wine) and for the hard livered you can have these with an extra Schuss (hard alcohol shot), and if ya a real cheapo then Grog. This warming inebriation is just the ticket in weather generally 10 – 15 degrees centigrade less here than in the UK. The one tradition I miss from the UK, and gets harder to do as my friends disperse themselves over the globe, is to go out on a bender on Boxing Day. Someat that helps Brits survive any family feuds, the mountains of food, and the drudgery of the goggle box.
What are your Denglish festive or other cultural traditions?
What do you miss from the old country?