For starters Halloween is not a very big holiday here... from what I've heard it only started about 10 or so years ago (which makes sense because when I was here 12 years ago no one really knew about it). Being so new to most Germans you don't find all the candy and costumes everywhere, though some stores did have a few costumes and things. Here in BS we didn't even see trick-or-treaters, so I'm highly doubt if they do that at all. We did go to a "Halloween Party" that a few people in Mariko's lab were throwing. There were only 3 people who dressed up (we sadly had no costumes) and every one brought food and alcohol to share.
There were Halloweeny decorations and we did everything by candlelight (to make it spookier I guess). About an hour into the party, the Germans excitedly asked us what people in America do during Halloween parties (I think they wanted some impromptu games or something)... not having anything on hand that one might see at a classic Halloween Party (Bobbing for Apples, Haunted Houses, etc) we promptly replied "Eating candy and usually drinking". So that is what we did for the rest of the evening. We were introduced to a German alcohol drink called Ahoj... you take a shot of vodka or gin and then pour the powder in your mouth (which tastes like a mix between fun dip and pop-rocks). Then you swish it around a bit and swallow! It was tasty but a little rough.
Next up comes Thanksgiving! The American holiday that tells us its ok to gorge yourself on food all day, just make sure to wake up early enough to stand in horrendous lines and buy lots of things! Seriously though it is a big holiday to spend time with family and close friends. As Germany has no indication of EVER celebrating Thanksgiving (for good reason mind you), Mariko and I were on our own to decide what to do. There were two Fulbright options for Thanksgiving: #1 Official Thanksgiving in Berlin with the Fulbright staff and other Fulbrighters or #2 Thanksgiving with other Fulbrighters in Hannover. Both of these trips would have involved travel and taking time off of work for Mariko.
We passed on both of those options, mainly because we had done so much traveling with my dad that we were a little worn out. So instead we decided to have Thanksgiving on our own the Saturday following the holiday (that way Mariko didn't have to take a day off of work). Planning the menu was a little challenging though. I wanted to keep it as close to traditional Thanksgiving as possible, but make it feasible for us with our limited options, cooking utensils and budget. So our meal was this:
- Duck- 2.3 kg (5 lbs)
- Smashed Potatoes
- Fresh baked rolls
- Deviled Eggs
- Canned Corn
- Canned Peas
- Sekt (Carbonated Wine)
- Brownies from scratch
Of course after Thanksgiving comes probably the biggest holiday world-wide... CHRISTMAS! And this just happens to be Mariko's favorite holiday!! The nice thing about being in Germany for the holidays is their love of Christmas. Every year each city has their own Weihnachts Markt (Christmas Markets). Now to explain what Weihnachts Markt is like, I will quote my lovely wife: "