A Tale of Two Schalmei – What is a Schalmei?

In our Saturday German School we sang the same verse over and over, overlapping in far from perfect harmony, while our teacher jumped back and forth across the front of the classroom pointing to groups when it was their time to join in the round. “Es tönen die Lieder…” Es tönen die Lieder Der Frühling kehrt wieder Es spielet der…

What is a Kaffeeklatsch? Therapy with laughter and Coffee

Americans missed out on a good thing by not adopting the “Kaffeeklatsch”. Honestly, meeting friends at Starbucks for a sippy cup of coffee on a tiny table just isn’t the same thing. Kaffeeklatsch… friends coming together for coffee… maybe some cake… and good conversation, is such a lovely way to spend a few hours. In Germany, the concept of Kaffeeklatsch…

The Linden tree in Germany – The Tree at the Heart of Germany

A friend sent me a clip from a news story out of West Virginia about the removal of a Linden Tree. What made him curious was not the toys found under the tree… it was the tree itself. This special tree was the last survivor of three Linden trees brought to the United States by German immigrants. Why, he asked,…

German Basic Law – 75th Anniversary of the Grundgesetz

  “The state is there for the sake of people, not people for the sake of the state.” Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Constitution, and how it compares to German Basic Law. Until the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) went into effect on May 23rd , 1949 Germany was still a divided occupied country under martial law. How much…

East Frisian Tea and the Famous Ostfriesentee Ceremony

While my American friends grew up drinking Milk or Water with their dinner, we drank Tea. Germans do drink a lot of tea, Black Tea, Hagebutte (Rose Hip), Chamomile, Fenchel (fennel)… But NO Germans drink quite as much tea as the Ostfriesen or East Frisians. If you can imagine it, they drink an average of 300 liters of East Frisian…

German Baumkuchen- How it’s made and where to Buy One

Baumkuchen? Tree Cake? That can’t be right! What is German Baumkuchen? This special cake didn’t get its name from the ingredients, the name came from the resemblance to the rings in a tree when you cut into it. And once you bite into this soft and flavorful cake, you will understand why everyone who tries it loves this “König der…

What is the Vogelhochzeit? It’s a song to Welcome Spring!

Germans do love to sing, and they especially love their Folk songs. One of my favorite German Folk Songs is the Vogelhochzeit. In German School I loved singing the fi-de-ralala part over and over. And with so many verses, the song can go on longer than the Twelve days of Christmas! (I have a feeling that’s why my German School…

What is Gemuetlichkeit? Trying to define an indefineable German Concept

When I arrive on my Aunt’s doorstep in Germany, she greets me with “Kommt ‘rein… mach’s euch Gemütlich!”(come in, make yourself gemütlich) and on family evenings instead of making plans my mother might say, “Wir machen uns Heute Abend Gemütlich” (tonight we will make ourselves gemütlich). A small well appointed room is described as “Gemuetlich”, and a noisy drafty restaurant…

What is a Strandkorb? And where can You BUY a Strandkorb?

I still remember the first time I saw a Strandkorb (a “Beach Basket”) on the beach. Since I grew up in California, it was wildly confusing… I mean, when we went to the beach, we just needed a few towels, a cooler with drinks and snacks, MAYBE a folding chair (if you felt like schlepping it), and possibly a sun…

What is German Unity Day – Tag der Deutschen Einheit

What is German Unity Day or the Tag der Deutschen Einheit? This National Holiday is the celebration of when Germany unified into ONE whole country. For 41 years, Germany was split between the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany). They existed as two separate nations. On November 9, 1989, the checkpoints at…

error: Content is protected !!