Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Christmas is coming in Germany. It must be coming in other places too. Christmas in German is called Weihnachten, and to get ready, the Germans celebrate Advent - the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Advent is called Advent.

This seemed funny to Brian and me. In the U.S.  no one really celebrates Advent outside of church. Sure, you see the occasional Advent calendar but that is all. Here, people celebrate Advent, even though most of them aren't religious in the going to church on Sundays sort of way. We first figured this out when stores rolled out Advent wreaths and Advent candle holders in early November. The calendars came out too. Then we learned that the Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkts) open the first Sunday of Advent. Anne and Andy invited us to an Advent Sunday party at their house. Apparently Advent is a big deal.

Compared to the US, Germans are more culturally Christian but less Christian in a religious way. It's ok to talk about Christmas break and Easter break rather than winter break and spring break. I am pretty sure that people will say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays". You can find an Advent wreath anywhere but a nativity set is harder to come by. And they set up a Christmas tree at Brian's school. That seems really weird to us.

There are non-Christian people in Germany. There are a lot of Muslim people, actually, at least in certain city neighborhoods. And then there is the whole history of the German Jews. And there seem to be many people who don't identify with a religion at all. But no one seems concerned about offending these people or making them uncomfortable with Christmas traditions. Is it because the holiday traditions have separated from their religious significance? Is it because the Germans know that the majority is Christian and they don't care what the minority thinks? Or maybe Americans are just extra concerned with being inclusive and politically correct?

I am not sure what the answer is. I am sure that I will be going to Christmas markets though. I will write all about that when I do!

p.s. I'm still taking votes on the tri club question - cast yours today!!

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.