Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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German News And Events

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

We do our best here at and in our G-ZINE to bring you all sorts of information regarding what’s going on in Germany. If you want more German news and cultural events, programs, and even books there are plenty of English sites that’ll give you what you’re looking for.

Deutsche Welle, my personal favorite, is one of the most trusted names in German news. Their website has historical, travel, and other articles for not only the English speaking (reading?) public but in 29 other languages too. Plus, you can watch DW World live on their website. is a great site for getting all the info you want for Germany’s major cities (Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, even the Rhineland). They’ll give you up-to-date movie listings (for English speaking movies, no less), restaurant reviews, and other cultural events.

Living or visiting Berlin? Can’t read German? Good thing EXBERLINER knows how to take care of you. They’ve got the best info on life in the capital city with restaurant reviews, listings, classified ads (need an apartment), and nightlife.

The same holds true with The Munich Times. If you want all the non-German language info on current events, sports, politics, and business in the Bavarian city — you don’t have to go any further than right here.

SPIEGEL ONLINE is the online version of Der Spiegel, and they’ve conveniently translated their German, European, and World headline stories from Deutsch to English for you.

Thanks, that’s most kind. ;-)

When trying to keep current of all the cultural events in Germany, you’ve got two choices. The first, Signandsight, might draw some of its “news” from other sites (for which they’ve translated to English for you). It’s said to be all about the “cultural and intellectual life in Germany.” That means books, music, art, etc. Love it!

The second, the Gothe Institute, is also all about German cultural life. You’ll find their website most informative about cultural programs. Plus, they have offices in countless cities around the globe (there’s even one in Kathmandu).

If you hear about any more English-speaking (or reading) websites, be sure to let us in on where to find them by posting a comment below, please? :-)

Germany, the Land of Poets and Thinkers

Monday, February 13th, 2012

I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many pages on that have the names Goethe or Schiller mentioned in them. These two contemporaries aren’t even the tip of the iceberg of writers and poets that have made Germany known as Das Land der Dichter und Denker — the Land of Poets and Thinkers.

So, here’s your chance to get to know some famous German writers in honor of next month’s Leipzig Book Fair in Leipzig (March 15th – 18th) and the lit.COLOGNE, the International Literature Festival in Cologne (March 14th – 24th).

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Born in 1749, Goethe’s works were considered part of a movement known as Sturm und Drang, or in English Storm & Stress. His The Sorrows of Young Werther would have topped all the “bestseller” lists, had there been any in his day.

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Fritz (as he was called) was buddies with Goethe, and founded the Weimar Theater with him. He is, however, known for his works — like Don Carlos, The Wallenstein Trilogy (about the Thirty Years’ War), and The Robbers — a story of violence, money, power, and revolution. Utterly brilliant.

While Schiller and Goethe were part of the Sturm und Drang, a number of writers were known for Exilliteratur — exiled writers (like these next two guys) that opposed the Third Reich and all it stood for.

Thomas Mann

A Nobel Prize winner from Germany who emigrated to the U.S. during the Nazi years, Thomas Mann was first translated into English in 1924. So now German and English readers can enjoy his ironic works (Death in Venice, The Magic Mountain, etc.). You can also read his children’s works too, since three of his children (Erika Mann, Klaus Mann, Golo Mann) became writers.

Bertolt Brecht

Oh, this guy was busy — poet, director, and playwright he was. His anti-fascist sentiments can be found in his Life of Galileo, the Good Person of Szechwan, and the Fear and Misery of the Third Reich. He returned to what was then East Germany after being blacklisted by Hollywood during the Cold War.

Although the next writers might not have been part of the Sturm und Drang or Exilliteratur crowd, they’re still Nobel winners for Literature.

Gerhart Hauptmann

Go figure, another Nobel Prize winning author. Mr. Hauptmann wrote 37 plays, and a large collection of novels and short novels. Too bad he didn’t have as much success after World War II as he did beforehand.

Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen

Not only was Theodor Mommsen a prolific writer (finishing 1500 works), this guy was an archaeologist to boot. He won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1902 on his works of Roman history. He died over a century ago, yet his writings are still relevant.

Schiller said, “The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.” Then let me say that the voice of the majority that still loves these writers’ stories is proof that good taste still exists in the world.

Real Football Is Played Outside America

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

It’s February, it’s freakin’ cold in Europe, and the American public was warm, toasty, and glued to the television with beers in hand for its annual football ritual, the Super Bowl. Last Sunday, that is.

Uh, guys, as exciting as the Super Bowl is or was for the two teams on the hunt for the infamous Lombardi Trophy, you’re not playing FOOTBALL.

Yeah, as if that’s not gonna get a reaction out of some of you. ;-)

Just to set the record straight, guys ‘n girls, we (i.e., the rest of the world) call it football, you call it soccer (huh?), and we (i.e., the rest of the world) call yours distinctively American football.

Anyway, German teams that play real football are on the hunt for the coveted DFB Cup. Hmm, bragging rights alone should be good enough. But this 12.5 pounds of silver is worth more than €100,000; and can actually hold 8 liters of liquid to boot.

I’m guessing it wouldn’t be filled with cola after winning this baby; especially since Bayern München won it 15 times (and that artificial liquid called cola is not really a German drink, or is it?). ;-)

The competition starts at the end of July with 64 teams, ending in May the following year (the 2011 season kicked off July 30) with the final match to be played at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

The DFB League, called Bundesliga, is only of Germany’s top football leagues. The Bundesliga is the highest men’s league in the country. The creme-de-la-creme of the sport. The NFL of soccer, if you will.

They’re all competing for the Champions Trophy, or what’s so eloquently called the “Salad Bowl.” This trophy weighs in at a whopping 11kg (24 pounds), and kind of reminds me of the Ladies Single’s Rosewater Dish trophy from Wimbledon.

Sorry, Manly Men, but it looks like a dinner plate. ;-)

Sure, I make jokes but football is huge in Germany. So much in fact, the game’s played in big arenas like the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, the Allianz Arena (the home stadium for Bayern München) in Munich, and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart.

I mention these so if you’re here visiting you might want to see a game or two. You’ll find tens of thousands of screaming fans all decked out in their team colors who are playing real football. :-)

Now that you know what German football teams are playing for, I’ll fill you in on the rules soon enough. Stay tuned…

The Hidden Groundhog Connection In Germany’s Candelmas

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Groundhog’s Day is well-known to our American and Canadian readers. This rather silly holiday revolves around the small furry animal that peeks its head out of its hibernating shelter each year on February 2.

According to the tradition, if it’s a cloudy day and the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, then that means winter will soon come to an end. But if it’s sunny and the animal glimpses its shadow, it signifies another six weeks of winter.

The biggest celebration takes place in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in the United States and its famous little critter Punxsutawney Phil (made famous in the Bill Murray movie about the holiday, called simply Groundhog’s Day).

However, most people don’t realize that this North American holiday has roots that can be traced right back to Germany! This annual tradition derives from the medieval holiday of Candelmas. As the old German saying goes…

Ist’s zu Lichtmess mild und rein
wirds ein langer Winter sein.

That is, “If Candlemas is mild and pure, winter will be long for sure.”

So what, exactly, is Candelmas?

This takes us to a famous story about the young Jesus Christ from the Christian Bible. Candelmas is when the baby Jesus made his first public appearance, at a temple forty days after his birth. Prophecies were made about the young boy and how he would one day redeem the nation of Israel.

But how did this religious festival celebrating the Virgin Mary’s purification following child birth lead to furry rats predicting the weather?

The answer is all about timing.

First, when the ancient Romans established Christmas as December 25, Candelmas logically fell forty days later, on February 2. Just as Christmas was changed by the Romans to coincide with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, Candelmas also fell at the time of an important Gaelic holiday, Imbolc.

This day is also called Saint Brigid’s day for the goddess-turned-saint. She walks the earth and leaves signs of her presence. She is responsible for bringing the light of summer to the darkness of winter.

So her holiday marked the beginning of spring in medieval Ireland. Imbolc traditions included watching nature for signs of an early spring. Participants might go the fields and look for snakes or badgers that had come out of hibernation.

So, this springtime holiday of weather prognostication eventually found its way to America, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Germans.

While they may have been searching for the more traditional harbingers of springtime, which in Europe was the badger or even a bear, they apparently made do with the small creature that now gives its name to this most unusual holiday, the Groundhog.

Enjoy Music At The 2012 Luther Decade

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Would you believe that we’re halfway through the momentous Luther Decade? Every year for the last five, all sorts of festivals and other programs have taken place to lead up to October 31, 2017, the official marking of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

What makes 2012 so remarkable is that this year’s highlight is music, so many events and programs have taken this into account.

The year of music kicked off just right in Erfurt where the new year’s events started with a choir concert at St. Thomas’ Church.

It’s all right if you missed it (lucky if you got to go). Here’s a listing of other events for the rest of the year so you don’t miss anymore.

In Eisenach at the Bach House there’s a special exhibit on the Book of Songs from Feb 25–Nov 11. Not running quite as long, the Thuringian Bach Weeks (March 30–April 22) is one of the largest music festivals in the country — special church services will also be taking place throughout the month.

Also in Eisenach there’s a grand birthday celebration for Martin’s 528th birthday on November 10. Oh sorry, I jumped ahead there. ;-)

For almost a full year at the Wartburg Castle (May 4, 2012–March 31, 2013) all sorts of exhibitions are going on where Luther translated the New Testament into German. The room in which he accomplished this task looks pretty much like it did 500 years ago.

October 31 marks Reformation Day (Reformationstag) and celebrate with the Reformation Festival. There will be plenty of special services throughout Thuringia on the day that Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door; an event that started a revolution.

From November 29,2012 to January 30, 2013 at the Heinrich-Schütz-Haus in Bad Köstritz you’ll be treated to a special exhibit on Martin Luther and Christmas.

Stay tuned. I’ll certainly keep you updated for the upcoming 2013 Reformation & Tolerance, the 2014 Reformation & Politics, and the 2015 Reformation Art & the Bible yearly events. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? :-)

Celebrate Holidays In Traditional German Style

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Every culture has their own particular way of celebrating their holidays, and the German Culture is no exception. Yes, it’s true that most festive occasions in Deutschland are of a religious nature, and it’s nice to know how the country celebrates.

No need to look like a tourist if you don’t have to. ;-)

Epiphany (Dreikönigstag) Jan 6
Known as Little Christmas, and where you’ll see children singing carols. Everyone’s welcome to eat some Dreikönigskuchen — but it’s supposed to be good luck to whomever eats the lucky object inside.

Candlemas (Mariä Lichtmess) Feb 2
Folks from the U.S. know it as Groundhog Day, but us Germans know this day falls right between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Celebrated exactly 40 days after Christmas, it’s all about the light. That’s why candle blessings are traditionally done.

Carnival (Karneval/Fasching) Feb/Mar
Here’s where things get tricky. The Carnival Season really kicks off on November 11th at 11:11 in the city of Cologne (and the Rhineland) — except during Advent and Christmas. Traditionally, everyone associates the lead-up to the Lenten season within a week of Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter).

If you’re in the Catholic regions of Germany (generally the South & West of the country), you’re more for partying in a masquerade style parade festival (with lots of drinking); while the Protestant (North & East) are known for a more subdued affair eating Berliners (donuts) and other sweet treats.

Good Friday/Easter (Karfreitag/Ostern) Mar/Apr
Good Friday is a solemn affair in Germany, often without any public performances or even church bells ringing in the town squares. Most people are off work or school at this time (and traditionally not eating any meat but fish), and only true touristy places are even open.

Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) is a lively event (compared to the relative quiet the day before) with Easter bonfires and Easter Markets taking place. Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) and Easter Monday (Ostermontag) are even more festive, with folks heading off to church and eating a hearty lamb dinner, and presenting kids with the play of searching Easter eggs and gifts (in the garden, living room, etc.).

Walpurgis Night/May Day (Walpurgisnacht/Mayfeiertag) April 30/May 1
Walpurgis Night is said to be the day that witches wait for Spring — but you’ll find plenty of Germans just dancing their hearts out by the bonfires. Hmm, maybe this is why the traditional saying is “Tanz in den Mai,” or Dance into May!

Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) Aug 15
Technically this mid-August date isn’t a “public” holiday (except Bavaria and the Saarland), but it’s common for people to head to church AND pick herbs out in the gardens.

Reformation Day (Reformationstag) Oct 31
Sure, it’s Halloween — but it’s also a special date on the Lutheran calendar. It’s a public holiday in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, celebrated with the Feast of the Protestant Reformation.

Advent (4 weeks prior to Christmas Day)
Almost every German city, town, village, and hamlet have Advent markets, bazaars, and concerts to ring in the joyous season of Christmas. These Christmas/Advent events are legendary — bringing people from all over the world to experience them.

And certainly a terrific way to end a year of celebrations.

You may want to bookmark this page as our holidays are scheduled to stay. ;-)

Fall In Love With The Hamburg Ballet

Monday, December 12th, 2011

A good friend of mine doesn’t remember the day that she fell in love with the ballet. But, she thinks watching Mikhail Baryshinikov dance in the 1985 film, White Nights, had something to do with it.

Her love of the dance means she doesn’t care where she sees it (New York, Paris, London); all she knows is she wants to go.

So, if you’re like her, and you’re going to be in Hamburg, why not check out this upcoming season’s fantastic ballets? A truly cultured activity for a truly cultured city, if I do say so myself.

Here’s just a few of the ballets playing at the Hamburg Ballet:

Nutcracker (Dec 14, 15, 23 (2 shows), 28, and 29, 2011)

Peter Tchaikovsky will forever be remembered as the composer for this Christmas ballet extravaganza, where a Sugar Plum Fairy and a Nutcracker come to life. Besides Scrooge, this is a Christmas Season must-see. Don’t worry if you don’t make this year’s performances—there’s always next year.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Jan 14, 20; May 16, 18, 19, 27; Jun 20, 2012)

A classic ballet (choreographed by none other than Balanchine himself) based on a classic comedy by William Shakespeare. Graceful is always the best adjective to describe one of the best ballets ever.

Death in Venice (March 6 & 9, 2012)

This isn’t your typical ballet by any stretch of the imagination. It’s based on Thomas Mann’s novella about a writer with writer’s block who heads off to the beach in search of inspiration. What he finds is a boy that captures his… uh, imagination.

A Streetcar Named Desire (April 18, 23, and 27, 2012)

Choreographed by John Neumeier, there’s no Marlon Brando screaming “Stella” in this ballet based on the Tennessee Williams play. Even so, the tragic story of Blanche transcends any media format.

The Little Mermaid (Apr 21, 25, 28, May 9, 12, Jun 22)

John Neumeier does his own adaptation of Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson’s tale. This ain’t no Disney version, that’s for sure. The “underwater” scenes are truly dramatic for us landlubbers.

In case you’re not a fan of ballet, or never seen one before—we do recommend watching Mr. Baryshinikov in White Knights or The Turning Point (with Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine)—it did it for my friend.

And if you’re interested, here’s the calendar of the Hamburg Ballet.

Groupies Sure Do Eat Great

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I think it was my lovely neighbors (the French) that kicked off this tirade. They sure were mad when Cologne’s Anuga Food Show (an annual event in October) said that foie gras wasn’t allowed.

Oh boy, were they mad.

What’s the big deal about foie gras? Isn’t it a luxury food like caviar?

Yeah, except the practice of making geese or ducks binge eat like they got bulimia (without the evacuating part of it) to fatten their livers is now a heated debate.

Lots of people out there don’t eat certain meats because of handling practices (one person I know doesn’t eat veal because of how they’re treated).

But, whether our French friends are up in arms over whether foie gras was allowed or not, rest assured that there are a variety of other food festivals and shows that don’t include eating fat duck liver.

Food Fairs & Festivals in Germany

January is a big month for food shows. One of the biggest is the International Green Week in Berlin. Actually, it’s a food, agriculture, and horticulture show (2012 date: January 20-29).

Just as Berlin’s show ends, the Sweets & Biscuits Fair kicks off in Cologne, which is all about new trends in confectionery delights. Who cares, bring on the chocolate—FAST!

Berlin’s at it again with the Freshconex Fair, that’s all about the juiciest, freshest, yummiest produce (salads, juices) you can find. I guess you better go if you want a healthy option after hittin’ up the sweets fair.

Munich is not to be outdone—their response is the Starkbierzeit (Strong Beer Week). Yes, I’m aware that this 2-week festival (kicking off around March 19) in the middle of Lent is about the beer. But, I did have to give it an honorable mention.

And don’t confuse this with Bavarian Beer Day that’s the official start to Bavarian Beer Week.

Now do you understand why I make jokes about Bavaria and beer all the time?

Anyway, Bavarian Beer Day kicks off on April 23 in honor of the date that a Bavarian Duke decreed the Beer Purity Law in 1516.

One of the biggest festivals is the Bad Dürkheim Sausage and Wine Festival in Bad Dürkheim. It might seem like it’s all about the wine (150 varieties available) but the Wurstmarkt is about the sausage. This festival is so popular (with fireworks) it takes place over 2 weekends (2nd & 3rd weekends in September). Make new friends while you’re sampling some great vino at a Schubkärchler, a small wine stand.

It’s back to Bavaria for one of the biggest food festivals in the country, Oktoberfest.

Stop laughing! Oktoberfest might be where more than 7 million liters of beer are consumed during the 16-day festival, but lots of local specialties are eaten during the event too. Try some Hendl (it’s chicken so don’t be alarmed), some roast pork dishes, Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Weisswurst, and/or Obatzda.

Look, you better eat while you’re drinking—otherwise you’ll be what we call a Bierleiche (a “beer corpse”), all passed out in an Oktoberfest Beer Tent.

Who’s laughing now? :-)

The Luther Decade, An Epic 10-Year Event

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Starting back in 2008 Germany has been getting ready for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017. Yes, that’s right it’s an event ten years in the making, six years to go still.

Each year leading up to the epic event has all sorts of symposiums, festivals, movies, and other events in villages and towns that were important places in the life Martin Luther. A most remarkable man, if I do say so myself.

What is also remarkable are the folks who’ve created this decade long event, have even implemented theme years; each with their own special events. Stat tuned with me, I’ll keep you posted about many of the events throughout the upcoming years.

If you’re going to make your way through many of the towns that were instrumental in the Protestant Reformation sweeping Germany, you better make sure you’re here for a while.

I would start in the town of Wittenberg, where it all started. It was here in Wittenberg at the Castle Church that Martin nailed his 95-theses to the door looking for, well, reform of the Catholic Church.

No, scratch that. I guess it all started in Eisleben where he was born. Then again, Erfurt is where he lived as a monk, so here’s a town that was instrumental in the shaping of Luther’s life.

Some other places in the life of Luther weren’t so much as important in his work, as in his early life. He went to school in Magdeburg and lived in Mansfeld for a time.

Whichever route you choose to follow, like (but not limited to) the Lutherweg or the Luther Pilgerweg, it doesn’t really matter because the Center for Spiritual Tourism in Thuringia (it opened on July 3, 2011) is here to help you along the way.

I don’t think you need to be on some spiritual quest to enjoy the events of the Luther Decade. No, even if all you do is enjoy it for history’s sake; you’ll certainly learn quite a bit about the man who changed history and influenced the lives of millions of people.

Enjoy Halloween In A Haunted Germany

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

What’s a medieval castle or two without a ghost or two? What’s a creepy graveyard without a few ectoplasmic ghouls to be seen?

So, in honor of All Hallow’s Eve (or Halloween)—although barely celebrated in Germany—I’m about to give you skinny on the creepiest, scariest, hair-raising sites in all of Germany.

If you’re faint of heart you might choose to change to another page on The Germany Blog. If not, then don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;-)

In case you’re wondering, yes Frankenstein Castle has made the list. And, this is only a fraction of the haunted places found throughout the country.

Berlin’s Pfauen Insel Park has been said to be haunted by a black ghost with glowing red eyes. Yikes, I’m scared already.

Over at the old Nazi Hospital (at the Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt) it’s been said that the ghost of a Nazi soldier has haunted the area for years.

Heidelberg’s Amphitheater and Hexenturm also said to be visited by strange noises and ghostly apparitions, especially on moonless nights.

Yeah, I know none of these places is a haunted castle — don’t worry, I’m getting to them right now.

One of the biggest haunted sites in Germany is Eltz Castle, where the spirits of medieval Knights have been known to roam. The castle closes for the winter season on November 1st, but at least it’s open for the scariest of all the holidays.

Hmm, it’s time for the most famous name in scary stories — Frankenstein Castle. No, there isn’t some large guy with bolts sticking out his neck here; it’s said to be the ghost of Johann Dippel.

The ghost at Friedland Castle is thought to be the daughter of a former resident, who was “cursed” by her own dad. Wow, that’s a scary thought.

I think Reichenstein Castle would be scarier than Burg Frankenstein or Friedland Castle. Why? Because it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of not one, not two, not even five ghosts — but ten! Just so you know, they’re believed to be the spirits of robber baron Dietrich von Hohenfels and his nine sons.

If you’ve come across any super creepy sites within Germany, let me know so I can come back to visit them next Halloween.

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