Germany is a secular country, despite the anachronistic church tax. It is also a diverse country. So when I prepared for my Preschool English sessions last week, I could safely assume that not everyone would be celebrating Christmas. I chose a winter topic rather than a religious one. A lesson with an abridged version of Frosty the Snowman and a carefully controlled target practice involving Styrofoam snowballs and a pyramid of paper cup snowmen is a hit. We make snowmen greeting cards and only two kids want me to write Merry Christmas on their cards. When I ask them about the holidays, they tell me it will snow, which it almost certainly won’t, but I don’t tell them that, of course. Everyone is united in a fervent belief in snow. I wish them happy snowy holidays.
Not unlike in the U.S., most people here wish each other “Schöne Feiertage” rather than “Frohe Weihnachten”. That said, Christmas traditions are alive and well, and for the local Christmas Market the medieval part of the city is cozy with beautifully decorated wooden booths selling everything from gingerbread to salmon baked on open fire pits. People stand huddled together close to the fire sipping mulled wine out of ceramic cups—no plastic anywhere in sight. The accent is on relaxed togetherness, on lighting up the darkness. There are candles everywhere these days, even in shop windows. Real candles.
This morning, on my way for some last-minute shopping, I hear my favorite holiday greeting so far: “Ich wünsch’ dir was.” I wish you something. Something good.
A little about myself:
Hello there and thank you for visiting my website! I have lived in Spain, Mexico, France and the United States, but now make my home in Germany. I have a Ph.D. in Literary Studies and a Master's in TESOL, and have published several books for children, among them El Loro Tico Tango and El Fandango de Lola, a 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book. As a writer and an artist I'm in constant conversation with my own anxious mind even as I celebrate the joyful possibilities of our crazy, incomprehensible world.