It´s Friday, a day of rest in the Middle East.No work for almost everyone. It´s a free day for us so normally it´s a rest day.Either we sleep in,grocery shopping, or meet with some friends in Avenues,but sometimes, we opt for another unique expat experience.A trip to the Market or we called it in Arabic,” Souk should be experience by everyone who visits Kuwait.I frequenty visits the Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait City and Souk Sharq in Sharq.There is also one good souk in Fahaheel but it´s far from where I lived .
This time, let me take you to a short tour about a day in the life inside the Fish Market and in the Mubarakiya. I decided to make a post about this because I certainly love going there. My husband doesnt. He does´nt like the smell of fish and walking to crowded markets. But I do. I love the cultural mixture, the smorgasbord around there, the diversity, and the raw mid-eastern and arabic food culture. I grew up in a tropical country where fish and seafoods are also abundant. At a young age, I have learned how to clean a fish and I am happy about it.
I always see people over here in Ingolstadt who loved to catch fish in the Danube river, they spent hours and hours to catch something. I guess they really find solitude in their hobby whatsoever!
The Fish market in Kuwait City is big, it´s a very crowded place adjacent to the “Mubarakiya“.You can find all sort of stuff there. From rugged carpets, pots, clothing, arabic spices, meat shops, cafe´s and gold shops and so much more. In this area, there´s a nearby Mosque, so on Friday, this place can be very busy. You will see all the nationalities of expats and locals . Just walking through the pedestrian makes me really dizzy…It is really an overwhelming experience. The smell, the noises, the chaos and yes, the sound of the buzzling city.
Inside the Fish market there´s also so much going on. I practiced my haggling talent here. With the Arabic that I have learned, I try to blend in the culture. The fresh catch is really awesome. I love having fresh seafoods from time to time. I had the experience of digging some clams when it is lowtide in the beach, but seeing other fish varieties is also something.In Kuwait, I also experience picking my own fish (my favourite was the Red Snapper!) and have it cooked to my preference.
The prices were quite competitive and since Fishing is one of the traditional source of income by the locals, you won´t be dissapointed with the daily offers in the market.
It is okay to haggle for the price but it is always good to do it politely. Most vendors are speaking in Arabic so if they saw that you are a foreigner then they might not understand you. So it´s better to come here with someone who speaks the native language and let them help you, especially if asking about the quality of the catch.
There´s something so endearing about Kuwaiti local specialties and food. Meat are cooked tenderly with arabic sices, lots of Cummin and Garam Masala. We love the authentic grilled Kuwaiti foods and this nice restaurant in the heart of the city called ” Leila”. I believed it´s Lebanese and it serves this yummy buns.
On the other side of the Fish market, there´s the dry goods section where you can find local produces like dates, spices, vegetables and fruits. Kuwait has limited agriculture so ost of the products that are grown locally like dates are quite cheap. It is very hard for me to find here in Germany for a good Dates, most of them are so expensive and not so delicious as what I´ve got to eat there. I am missing it now actually, and the native Kuwaiti sweets…they are super decadent!
Walking around the city made me realized just how nationalistic Kuwait is. Kuwait colors is always displayed and they really loved displaying their Flag.During the “Hala Hala Festival ” in February, the whole country is actually dressing up in White, green, black and Red.
A typical shop design in Kuwait with national colors!
In here you can find as well so many local produce from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. It´s like a mixture of the Arabic food centre .It´s no wonder because there are so many Arabic expats living and working there as well.Outside the market are line of restaurants and shops that serves the local dishes. I love sitting there and enjoy some freshly made Iranian bread and some grilled chicken and meat. The side dishes and Hummus are really good.
Do you have a market experience in other countries? If so, how was it?
Here´s another interesting German word : Frühlingsfreude (n) which means Spring Joy.
Frühlingsfreude is actually a combined words of Frühling ( Spring) and Freude( Joy) . Anything that brings gladness in hearts during Spring .As always, nature comes first but it can also means a simple act of kindness, hearing all day long the chirping of birds, or even running on an early morning with fog.
Over the past few days these are what gives me Frühlingsfreude;
I smiled when I finally saw these tiny yellow buds, and purple Crocuses! They definitely brings me a feeling of new beginnings.It´s still so cold outside and mostly minus temps, good thing the sun shines graciously.
The amazing smell all over the house filled with the scent of freshly home baked Èmpanadas` and Frühlingsrolle or Lumpia for a light Dinner.
Taking long walks while soaking up under the sun.
I don´t know why but there are plenty of swans and ducks over here.Everypond, lake and river it is impossible not to notice a duck.So yes, seeing them at this time is always refreshing.The other day, we sat by the river and ducks came to us immediately, waiting for some bread pieces…!
I had also few trips to Garden shops ( since they finally reopened!!!) to get some soil , pebbles , fertilizers and seeds.This Spring I wanted to start a new Hochbeet ( or elevated garden) to plant some veggies and herbs).Its still minus temps at night so I am waiting until the last frost then I could proceed with garden work.
Just as I put on my jacket, my colleagues shouted at me, as their usual routine : “Schönen Feierabend!”
and I shouted back ” Gleichfalls! Endlich Feierabend..!
Feierabend is a German word but I cannnot find an exact English word for it. If ever you encounter this word or someone say it to you, it simply means ;
End of work, Finally, time to enjoy and rest, or can also be So long, your work is done, go home and relax!
People normally either go home, meet a friend, sit in a Biergarten or go shopping. For some, it´s time to attend another ” Termine ” or appointments. This is the time to finally enjoy something outside work.
feiern ( nomen, or Feast, holiday) der Feierabend ( masculine in gender, the holiday, the Feast ), or synonym of Vacation, Restday ( der Urlaub) or die Freizeit( feminine Gender, meaning freetime)
Feierabend is a something that every employee here in Germany is looking forward to with great anticipation, joy, and yet the term does not really exist in many languages. Normally on Friday, as early as 12pm, most desks in offices are already empty. Just like me , a working mother who only work as part-time (or Teilzeit), my Feierabend normally starts after lunch.
Feierabend consists of the two parts Feier and Abend. Die Feier has its origin in the Latin feriae, which meant something like a day without any business activities’. So Feier is actually related to the German word die Ferien which is the holidays for students and pupils.The longest Ferien here in Bavaria is during Summer, where pupils have a maximum of 1 month & two weeks vacation.That is really many, so parents need to plan ahead of the year to divide their Urlaubstage ( Vacation days) to be able to plan who will stay with their children when schools and Kindergarten are closed.
Eine Feier is a celebration or a party and so it comes in a number of compounds nouns such as Weihnachtsfeier(Christmas party), Geburtstagsfeier (birthday party),Hochzeitsfeier (wedding reception) .
Today happens to be Friday, it´s almost weekend and I am looking forward to my “Feierabend” !
One of the best thing that happened to us during Corona Lockdown was that my daughter´s painting was selected to be inluded in the Exhibit for ” Kinder Malen sich Selbst” ( Children, paint yourselves!) exhibition in Münich. I am a proud parent of a 5 year old kid that is inclined to arts at a young age as this! I am wondering what am I doing when I was 5 years old?She is really an epitome´ of an international expat kid–born in Kuwait, of Dutch & Asian origins, and raised in Germany and now, she just had her own drawing escapade!
From March, right at the beginning of the Corona virus global outbreak, the Library began to asks children around the world to participate to draw themselves what they feel about Corona.At first it was a virtual collection of drawings of children how do they feel during the tough times of Corona Pandemic then they began to collect the drawings as well.These are gorgeous collection of children´s talent, thoughts, visions, and feelings which travelled from different countries to Germany. This exhibit was arranged by theInternational Youth Library ( Internationale Jugendbibliothek, IJB ) in the Herrenhaus Foyer of Schloss Blutenberg.
Of course I am the most excited for everything! Like an overreacting stage mother, we were all ecstatic to see finally the Exhibit. We are still in Summer break so decided to go to Munich to see it.For my daughter who was only 5 years old when she did the drawing, I think the whole experience was also great.To think that she almost tore away the drawing and I was able to save it. She was so happy to know that her drawing was selected among many others, and it is now displayed there up until September 9,2020. With Corona restrictions, the exhibitions follows strict hygienic controls, with masks and reduction of visitors inside the halls.
From the beginning, Ms. Weber , who was the one coordinating with me of the drawing submission was very kind and helpful. I was even glad that finally I can write an email in English and not in German !Aside from the helpful assistance in the exhibition, we were ushered to see the amazing Libray archives which really took our breath away. The underground cellar beneath the castle courtyard is the place of extensive collection of books from different times, era, period, languages and countries. It is really an international place.No wonder most of the staff are speaking different languages! From the reception in the entrance of the castle, I heard someone speaking in Hindi, and many guests came from Asia, including Japan and Korea. Even the featured children´s stories were of Japanese origins!It is really a great feeling to belong to such a friendly multi-cultural community like this here in Germany. It was nice to see Asian mothers for a change. 🙂
The Library have accumulated a total of 650,000 children & adult books from different times and periods from 240 languages and covering 4 centuries! I think this is the biggest & extensive Library I ahve ever been to. There are so many different ” Mark Twain´s ” books in different versions and languages in one single shelf that I have ever seen in my whole life. I don´t even know where to start.Also, the Library possesed 30,000 volumes of Scholarly Literature and about 130 current subscriptions to specialized literary journals. If you love Literature and children´s books—this is the best place to be!
We were told that the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Münich is the biggest International Library for Youth and children´s literature in the world! It´s setting is like a fairytale castle—the Schloss Blutenberg.
These 2 paintings draws my attention, one from Iran and one from the Philippines. I am sure these children would love to see their artwork personally as well if given the chance considering the travel restrictions due to Corona. I have read that the Library also grants scholarships to Foreign scholars with the objective of supporting research in the areas of international children and youth´s literature, illustration and promoting scientific exchange and international cooperation.
Aside from the Exhibition, the castle itself and its courtyard is beautiful. Founded in 1949 by a German Journalist, Author and Translator Jella Lepman, this Library has a vision to build bridges for children with books and open windows to the world.
Surrounded with lush greens, lake, and the flowing river makes the castle an idyllic setting.There are different Summer programs , Open Air concerts in the castle´s courtyards and a nice quaint Restaurant with a view of the lake. There was even a wedding in the time of our visit.
We enjoyed the story telling stations, the other exhibitions like the Internationale Wimmelbücher, ” Die Ganze Welt auf einer Seite” ( also collected from different parts of the world!) and the Illustrations of letter Postal envelopes “ Oh wie Bezaubernd Schön !” by the amazing Binette Schroeder. There was huge collection of her illustrated books, objects, mementos,and children toys that are really captivating! My daughter found a little door, I never thought of it as a cabinet! Then she asked me ” Mama, can I open the little door?” .I never thought there was something in there but then to our surprise, there it was…the jewel of the palace, the Binette Schroeder-Kabinett!” There was a little world inside there that captures every child´s heart.
It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad that my kid loves to read and appreciates reading at a young age. It was really a great experience and we will be back for sure to Schloss Blutenberg. I did not expect that during Corona times, we will discover another world of love for reading and children´s literature.
As an expat Mama here in Germany, I certainly commend that we have the opportunity for great Libraries and children´s learning mediums!
Let me share with you a really nice German word that I personally love, it´s Spaziergang. For non native German speakers like me, Google provides a simple and easy to digest definition of this word.
Spaziergang means ” a walk, taking a leisure walk ” or a ” stroll”
Etymology : Spazieren ( verb) + gang (spa*zier*gang)
Spaziergang ( M) (genitive –Spaziergangs or Spazierganges, plural – Spaziergänge)
Example when used in sentence : Viele Menschen machen am Sonntag einen Spaziergang mit ihrer Familie. / On Sunday, many people go for a walk with their families./
This morning I gazed outside the window and I saw a familiar face of one old man walking. He really takes a walk everyday, maybe 1-3 times a day and today was no exception. This is probably one of the word where I can perfectly describe my German neighbours and almost general here.They just love to be out, any time of the day, regardless of the season, in quarantine or not, people here loves to go for a walk or ” spazieren” . The other day, I was talking to some relatives in the Philippines and I have learned that they haven´t made a ” walk” for quite some time, all for various reasons. I have no time, I am too busy today, not allowed, too lazy, it´s raining, it´s hot …excuses are there and so on. Sometime its understandable, quite logical in these dire times of Pandemic. I just realized that there is really a huge difference between characters and lifestyle issues here and over there that I would not want to reiterate since its not the call of the hour.
Now back to my story about this word .Spaziergang in other places where I lived is quite different, especially when the weather is quite challenging.In Kuwait, I often take long walks along the seaside. When I was pregnant, I walked in the seashore many times just to ease my aching feet . Seaside is very famous that almost everyone knows it, you can never get lost. Its a long strip of beach , the Arabian Gulf, beaming like diamonds in a blistering 48 degrees summer heat. It´s a nice scenery there especially during mild winter days, and also on very early summer mornings as well as when we don´t have dust storms. I missed those days where the only music I hear is the waves…. I have watched the tides being low and high, calm and clear…now going to the beach for me is quite a luxury.We are surrounded now with different kind of bodies of water which is also another paradise.
Here in Germany, people loved to take leisure walks. It is really a lifestyle that stands out everywhere. When people doesn´t cycle , you know they are walking. Sometimes I feel like if you don´t get out at least an hour a day, you are commiting a sin.I watched people of all ages do this, including myself. Germans takes walks for various reasons as well, but mainly, they loved to be out.Walking along the Danube river, in a park or forests can be a daily adventure trip. Walks are used for relaxation, recreation for families, or just simply observing and thoughtful leisure…or killing time, especially on Rühetag Sonntag ( Quiet Sundays).When the sun is out, people go out and take a walk to get under the sun, having a friend beside you walking and chatting is quite extravagant.Breathing fresh air, exercising in a form of ” brisk walking” is like a common changing your ” wallpaper”. You see,walking helps you see a different backdrop from nature especially during the change of seasons. A walk in the city is totally different experience from a walk from a quiet valley or countryside. A walk done through the weekdays is probably feels different when its on weekends.Here in Bayern, its very normal to see people walking with sticks, they say it makes walking easier, although I see it more frequently with old people.
All of the above reasons, I did it all, all for the sake of ” walking”. In the early days, I would take a walk with my daughter in the stroller. In this way, I´ve got to know my new city and meet new people. Through “Spaziergang” , I have alearned to appreciate nature more, and made more pauses just to linger more with nature. It´s some kind of therapy as well. It´s a form of relaxing yourself aside from it is naturally healthy. I ´ve took a walk with my family, with friends, with my daughter, and yes, most of the time, I treasured the me-times or alone. There is a great consolation that I get when I took an early morning stroll and having a place all by myself. Most of the photos and inspiration from this Blog are the product of my daily Wandertags ( or strolling).
These photos are the ones I´ve took last week when we took a walk in the nearby town here in Ingolstadt. We were so early ( we always go out early to avoid crowds) that the trees and shrubs still have wet stems and misty. I totally got excited to take many photos and experiment with my camera.
When was the last time you took a walk? Have you enjoyed it?
Until next time friends, Stay safe and have a great week!
There is something like “Ruhetag Sonntag” ( or Quiet Sunday) we have here in Germany. While in other parts of the world, Sunday is more like normal weekend day, it is not so here in Germany. It was quite a shock for me when I first came here because I’ve got used to having Sundays as a time where I can enjoy the shops and do shopping since it’s a normal rest day from work.
Ruhe Sonntag in Deutschland means “Ruhe”or rest, quiet, silent, and it is actually a law here. Don’t mess up with this tradition especially if you are in Southern Bavaria. You can’t even make too much noise like vacuuming because it will disturb your neighbor. One time, my husband mow the lawn and our neighbor raised their eyebrows and informed us that it’s better to do it on other days. If you plan to drill or play loud music, then you need to think twice again.
If you forgot to do your groceries then good luck to you.Don’t get me wrong, Germans loves to shop. But it really makes sense that they always do their groceries with their lovely wooden baskets on week-days. I find it really interesting to see their baskets in their bicycles filled with daily groceries. I spotted many old people visiting a shop buying a bottle of something, fruits or the recent “Angebot” of a local supermarket. On Sunday, supermarkets are closed and you can’t find anywhere to buy your chicken or fruits. It is very rare that shops are open on Sundays, only on few festivals and night fairs.
Every Sunday, everything is closed, that includes shops, mall, offices and almost everything. Only bakeries, restaurants, gas stations and of course, Beer gardens are open for business. Train stations are open so as the train operations so you can still take your train and go wherever you want to go.Bus service are also available during Sundays but they run on fewer schedules. Normally you need to wait almost an hour for the interval of the trips.
So what do Germans normally do on this day?
I live in Ingolstadt, a budding town here in Bavaria ( or Bayern) where people greets you with Servus instead of Hello. A place where people wear Dirndl and Lederhosen on almost every occasion, even on weddings! Bavarians are very traditional and Catholicism is seen into everyday life. And while the practice is based on faith, it’s also a law.
Article 139 of the German constitution states, “Sunday and holidays recognized by the state shall remain protected by law as days of rest from work and of spiritual improvement.”
I have been observing what’s going on here in my neighborhood during Sundays. Normally people sleep in during weekends so if you are an early riser like me, you can enjoy nature all by yourself. Many Germans ( or I dunno exactly where they came from!) loved doing some kind of sport during Sundays. They love to run, jog and walk no matter what the weather is. Sundays are also perfect for cycling especially if the weather is fine.
One of the frequent place to visit on a lazy Ruhetag Sonntag is this view of the river Donau ( Danube) from the Glacis Brücke ( or Glacis Bridge /Bruckenkopft). Here you can have a beautiful view of the foliage and colorful trees especially in Autumn. I often visited this bridge for a morning walk and here I discovered the beauty behind the mist.
In the other places where I’ve lived, we lost our wallets for shopping, especially if there are so many Sales.Not so here in Germany. Sunday is a sacred day for the Germans. Germany and many of its European counterparts held a long resistance to Sunday shopping, despite that they have a good economy. I lived in Bavaria, a very conservative region, and most of the smaller Bavarian towns, Sunday is a time for reflection.
People here also go to church on Sundays. But I notice that this practice of faith is not the same as in Philippines where there are really massive church goers. Same goes in Kuwait where Muslim people visits the mosque on Fridays, I tell you, the crowd going to pray in Mosques is big. Here, it’s also very quiet in the church, on many days, its empty. but I admit that they have beautiful churches. I find it quite funny that there are more people going to Oktoberfest or in Volksfest, or just sit in their favorite Beer garden on Sundays, rather than the number of people going to church .
Sunday is a day of rest, so everyone deserves to have a rest from work as well. Common people visits their Oma and Opa, having family lunches and taking a walk together. On Summer, you will noticed that most Spielplatz ( or playgrounds) are full of children with their parents having a morning play time together. Many mothers are having a playgroup meet up in parks and having a picnic. Staying indoors is really a second option only when the weather is not good.I have the feeling that after living here for almost three years, it is like a sin if you don’t go out. People here just love enjoying open places, fresh air and healthy options.
How do you spend your Sundays?
Do you also observe special traditions in your town?
Until next time, Get out, relax, spend time with your love ones. Drink beer and sit in the Beer garden if you like, after all…. it’s Silent Sunday!
One of my wishes came true this year and that is to visit the world-famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt, or probably the best Christmas market in the world, as far as Christmas markets are concerned. It’s one of the oldest, grandest and also the biggest ! Yes, I am saying it’s of world-class— and simply one of a kind, unforgettable and extraordinary Christmas market-fair-trade-fest rolled into one!
I cannot use too many more adjective for it but it is really worth a visit.From an Asian like me, I love everything about Christmas Markets! As an Expat, its one of the culture that I have fully integrated and loved. Despite the cold weather, everyone should try to experience this if they have a chance. I say this because I am totally thrilled and pleased with the experience of seeing everything that I’ve read in internet in full life and colors. Just like Oktoberfest—another magnet here in Bavaria, Nuremberg set a world record of number of visitors during Adventzeit. The crowd is simply overwhelming!
It’s a shame not to write about it since it’s really on my Bucket List–something that I never expected to be. I can’t get enough of the nostalgia from the Bitter-Sweet Marriage Carouselso we end up exploring the Christmas Market and we were really blown away!
Maybe its a mistake when we decided to visit Nuremberg on the second week of Advent because it was packed, crowded, beautiful,charming and definitely exhausting! The crowd was something that I never expected to be. Despite of the grey , cold, windy, storm-ish winter weather, people, old and young, on different ages flocked to the streets of the central Hauptmarkt square to witness the grand and only one Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt!
We arrived at around 11:30 am but we were lucky to find a table for lunch only around 2pm! Everything was packed, but the atmosphere is really something different. People are smiling, the vendors in the stalls are courteous and everyone is just in jolly mood.
We visited Nüremberg before but the atmosphere in Winter is something different. The surrounding is filled with Christmas decors- in fact, what’s make it unique it its very traditional decors made of copper, wood and one-of a kind materials! Bright lights and the colors of Christmas is seen everywhere. Every shop compete with its own unique charming decors. The smell?— Oh your senses will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon, pastries, fruit cakes, Bratwurts, Nuremberg sausages and Glühwein. The taste of Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt!
As a child, I can’t recall a Christmas market experience. I remember, we attended the midnight mass during Advent and there are few stalls of vendors selling traditional “Puto bungbong and Bibingka” ( sticky rice cakes)outside the church and nearby is a Carnival where we play and had fun rides. But nothing like the Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt in Nüremberg. For little ones, the rides, the grand carousel and the overwhelming threats for children is so tempting. From chocolate covered fruits to kinder punches and tasty threats that are beautifully displayed in every stall.
The first time I’ve ever tasted Lebkuchen from Nürnberg is when my husband brought some when he had a trip in Germany while we are still living in Kuwait. The taste of Spekulatius, cinnamon and Lebkuchen is unforgettable. I have tasted different Lebkuchen and Ginger breads here in Germany but I must say that I would always come back to Lebkuchen Schmidt.Highly recommended and worthy to bring as a gift to your love ones. Only be wary of the long lines especially during peak seasons! It’s not only their Lebkuchen but their cakes and Pastries are mouth-watering too!
I’ve visited Nuremberg in Summer and my neck was cramped looking at beautiful old architecture, and the old city has always something to offers. The streets of Nuremberg during Christmas season are endless, chaotic,but really unforgettable. There’s always something to explore, to see and even if your feet already aches from walking, then just take a break and melt into the crowd.
Time to rekindle your childhood in the Kinder Weihnachtmarkt.The fairground is beautifully decorated with Nativity stalls, snowmen, sleighs and a winter wonderland for children. It offers lots of food stalls as well as toys stalls so it’s a perfect timing for gift buying too. I went to this Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt when the Christkindlesmarkt is too crowded for my daughter and I am even afraid to get lost!
Or kiss your Honey while taking a quick stop on this Mistletoe bundle!
The world is your Oyster when it comes to food while you are in the Market. You find every type of food depends on your taste. The only downside is if you get a place to sit! On our visit we tried dome Balkan food and despite that its quite expensive, we were not disappointed with the taste.
There are thousands of Christmas Markets all over Germany and you can never have enough or shortage of it. Even our local Ingolstädter Christkindlemarkt can never be ignored but then if you have the chance to visit a Christmas Market, then go to something that worth the travel–and that is the Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt! I’ve just read that it’s almost 400 years old since the earliest writing about it was since 1628!
Nürnberg left me an impression and continue to do so… I wish it does the same to you. Maybe on my next visit, I’ll discover something else. From the mystical Kaiserburg Old Castle up to the overwhelming Tiergarten, I’ll leave you with endless options. My writing is not enough , you should be able to experience it with your own eyes.If there’s a market that I would like to bring my family in Philippines to see–then it is here.
What do you think of German Christmas Markets?
Here in Germany we have 2nd day of Christmas so here’s wishing you all Happy 2nd Day of Christmas and a Happy New Year! Until next time.
Ever wonder what makes Christmas or Weihnachten in Germany different from the rest of the world? Every country has its own traditions, but have you ever wondered how Germans celebrate Christmas?
There’s no stopping time now, few more weeks and November is over and here comes the end of 2017. And yes, Christmas is really just around the corner. Snow came early to Germany and winter-feel is definitely in the air. As the fire in the sky continue to pull the days closer to the merriest time of the year, also the darkest time, Christmas or Weihnachtenis heavily anticipated not only here in Germany, but also in the rest of the world. If you are planning to have a white Christmas or visiting Germany in the summer, you can now have the chance to learn about the unique and surprising German Christmas traditions in the Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town, also here in Bavaria.
It’s almost a decade now that I don’t celebrate Christmas in my home country, the Philippines. Time really flies,and it feels even surreal. I totally missed the way we do it as a family, just like in the old times. It’s quite the norm from where I grew up that once the calendar months ends in-ber, say from September, it signals the start of Christmas frenzy!We start to hear Christmas songs played in the radio, the shops are flooded already with Christmas decorations, and yes, office Christmas parties are planned. The raffles, the never- ending exchange gifts, and yes—the most awaited Christmas bonus! I will never forget the evening mass and “Noche Buena“, the Kris Kringle madness, the jaw-dropping Christmas foods, and the crazy traffic during Christmas shopping! Everything is just so festive!
For the past years, I have seen so many differences in the way that other culture celebrate the most colorful time of the year, and for Catholics, it’s probably the most festive. When I was still living in Kuwait, although it’s a Muslim country, the spirit of Christmas can still be felt, unfortunately only in the confines of private accommodation and flat. At work, we were also granted with a holiday from work during Christmas Day. I even attended the midnight mass once. I noticed that more and more shopping malls have their Christmas decor and it is being talked about. The large number of expats in the Middle East is the reason, why even miles away from home, you can still celebrate Christmas with friends and families. I had my first German Christmas last year here in Bavaria , with full anticipation (since I am very curious). I found many interesting German Christmas traditions that is worthy to document here in my Blog as part of my Expat life.
If you want to know how Germans celebrate Christmas the German way, then you might find this post helpful. So keep on reading and stay with me.
Here I wanna share with you the surprising German traditions for Christmas that I personally love!
Christmas in Germany is beautiful, unique, homey and very warm!
The Advent Wreath or Der Adventskranz
The moment I saw these wreaths and candles, I know that Christmas is near. Back in my home country, I see these decorated wreaths as purely decorational, of course, minus the lighted candles.They are used to adorn the doors, and add to the already overwhelming Christmas decorations together with all the garlands in the walls, stairs etc. Not so here in Germany, because Advent time is important for Germans.
The German Christmas season officially starts at the first Sunday of Advent, roughly 3rd of December. The Advent wreath (or Adventskranz) is adorned with four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The first Advent wreath, which appeared in the mid-19th century, had 4 larger candles and 19 smaller ones. Each day, one additional candle was lit to help the children count the days until Christmas. Today only the four larger candles remain. Many Germans love to decorate their Adventskranz up to their own taste but there are also so many different designs of ready-made ones sold in almost every shop.
Adventskalendar —the sweet way of Christmas countdown.
During Advent season, you will never miss the sight of tons of Adventskalendar , (literally a Calendar with small boxes) almost overwhelming in many designs, colors, and yes, all with yummy goodness chocolates or sweet goodies. This is one of the obvious signs that Christmas is coming. This is a delight for children and the child at heart. In the Adventskalendar, there are 24 “windows” that reveal a picture, poem or even part of a story – often the story of the Nativity – each day through December right up to Christmas Eve when the secret behind the largest window is revealed. Seeing Germans do panic-buying of Adventskalendars especially when they are on Sale is a typical sight as early as 2nd week of November! This is totally German thing!
Vanillekipfelr (Crescent moon cookies)
Weichnachtsplätzchen or German Christmas Cookies
You know it’s the Advent season here in Germany when your nose is filled with heavenly delicious German Christmas cookies. Germans are very into home- made baking. They really appreciate if you made the plätzchen yourself and not store-brought. They are great bakers of cookies and other treats.There are lots of baked treats that will surely keep your mouth-watering. My favorites are vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies) Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), Linzer cookies and Spekulaas as well.Germans love to use lots of almonds, hazelnuts, butter flavored marzipan and cinnamon in baking. Believe me, German cookies are too beautiful and heavily decorated to eat!
Weihnachtsmann Schokolade or Chocolate Santa Claus
Its only here in Germany that Chocolate Santa Claus ( or Weihnachtsmann) floods the shelf of all supermarkets here in Germany. Prior to Christmas, St. Nikolaus is celebrated on the 5th of December and so most Germans get this yummy figures in many sizes. If you have a child, I am sure you will get this one as well.
Christmas Tree or Der Tannenbaum
With over 400 years in history, the Tannenbaum or the Christmas Tree is the real thing in Germany! The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to put up their tree during the Advent season. Please don’t tell anyone, but we already put up our Christmas Tree! Maybe my neighbors are shaking their heads when they see our lighted tree from our windows! I also see my neighbors starts to decorate their windows and garden with white lights. Who doesn’t? For us, Weihnachtsfreude (Christmas Joy) comes early! In Philippines, this is also the norm.
I grew up in adoration of Christmas Tree. Traditionally, I think it’s not complete when we don’t have a tree. Recently, on my research of German inventions, I found out that Christmas trees or Tannenbaum, actually originates here in Germany. I saw the biggest tree that I have ever seen in my life, to top it all— a REAL Evergreen Conifer , decorated with glass baubles, covered in real snow. Although there are lots of varieties for the plastic ones, most Germans still opt to put up the traditional real tree. During Christmas season, almost all town put up a giant tree in the city center adjacent to the place of Christmas market.Decorated with beautiful, handmade balls, and usually adorned with white lights.Compared to the Philippines, here I noticed that they only use white lights instead of colorful, blinking Christmas lights. And NO— they don’t decorate their whole house with lights!It’s also fascinating to know that it was German immigrants who brought the Christmas tree to America.
In Germany, Christmas balls are not just an ordinary tree ornament. Where most of the modern Christmas ornaments and plastic balls nowadays are made in China, USA or Mexico, the origin of these “baubles” or Glaskugeln came from Germany. The old town of Lauscha in German Thuringia is said to be the place of the handmade, glass-blown Christmas bauble.
Below is the photo of the family Weschenfelder work on Christmas balls in their combined living room and work space in the small village of Lauscha.
Christmas Markets or Christkindlmarkt
In Germany, despite the freezing temperatures, almost all towns are converted into one colorful, festive, unique Christmas wonderland during few weeks before Christmas day. Our local Christkindlmarkt is open since November 23 up to Dec. 23. Every place has its own attraction and each one has their own special features that draws attraction to everyone. If you want to have a glimpse of what is Christmas market all about, check this and it will bring you to a winter wonderland!
Today there are over 2,500 Christmas markets across Germany. One of my dream came true when I experience Christkindlmarkt last year. Famous ones are in Nuremberg, Munich and Rothenburg. Most markets are open also on Sundays and draws lots of visitors from neighboring places.This is the best time to see Germany in its most colorful and unique display of celebrating Christmas with the highlights of the Christkindl —the German equivalent for the world-renowned Santa Claus and depicted as an angelic figure with blond hair & wings. It’s really not time of the year without a Christkindlmarkt here in Germany.
St. Nikolaus and the Christkind
Santa Claus originated as a Catholic figure. The Christkind was created by Protestants. Christkind transformed from a suggestion of Baby Jesus into a blonde, female angel. In Nürnberg, each year a teenage girl is chosen to represent the Christkind in the weeks leading up to Christmas. She is known as the Nürnberger Christkind and, much like with Santa, children take pictures with her and tell her what gifts they would like for Christmas. The highlight of each Christmas markets is the German’s famous mulled wine or “Glühwein” or hot spiced wine, the Krippenweg, the beautiful craft stalls, and lots of traditional German Christmas food. There are so many attractions for kids like carousel, trains, carousel and the ice skating rink. One thing worth mentioning is the efficiency of Germans in their way of setting up the whole place into a big arena winter wonderland within weeks or so.
Sankt Nikolaustag ( Dec. 5 or 6)
I grew up believing the magical tale of Santa Claus as someone who is a bearded old man, with a big belly, dressed in red outfit riding the sleigh with sacks of gifts. All the way from the North pole giving gifts to children. But in Philippines, we don’t have snow neither reindeer or chimneys, so this makes me cringe now. For many children, sitting in the lap of Santa Claus while being photographed is one of the most unforgettable time during Christmas. They either scream in anguish or shriek in delight! Here in Germany, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, only the Weichnachtsmann who is a favorite among children during St. Nicholas Day! My daughter will be celebrating her 2nd St. Nicholas in their Kindergarten this year.
In Germany, December 5th is a very special night. Many children put their cleaned boots and shoes outside the front door on the night of 5 December. They believe that St. Nicholas fills the boot with nuts, oranges, gifts and sweets overnight. Sometimes the Nikolaus also visits the children at the Kindergarden or in the school and asks them if they have been good.My daughter already hung her sock in their Kita for the upcoming St. Nicholas. In Holland, as similar to this celebration, Sinterklaas is also a big celebration before Christmas.
Christmas Eve – Heiliger Abend (also Heiligabend)
December 24 is still a regular working day here in Germany. But around 2:00 pm, often even earlier, businesses, and most shops are close in preparation for the holiday celebration, a large part of which occurs on Christmas Eve in Germany. The traditional evening meal includes carp and potato salad, but nowadays it varies from what each family loves to prepare. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of Christ’s birth aloud.This is the counterpart of our traditional “Noche Buena” without the roasted pig, Christmas ham and Queso de Bola ( Cheese ball)! Compared to the Philippines and other countries, I don’t see Christmas Carollers here either that goes from house to house, at least not in our neighborhood.Probably because its hard to sing and be out at night when its freezing cold at night.
Family members exchange gifts and children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. Here in Germany, opening gifts on Heiliger Abend is the normal way, compared to other countries who opens the gifts on the morning of December 25th.
I grew up attending Midnight Christmas mass or Simbang Gabi. We usually attend evening mass on a 9-day series of mass up to the” Misa de Gallo “or ( Christmas eve mass) . Here in Bavaria, I only went to the mass on Christmas Day, German families – whether Protestant or Catholic and even those who are not regular church-goers – often attend mass or a church service. While the mass traditionally takes place at midnight, in recent times the services have moved into the earlier evening hours. It is terribly cold around midnight or in early morning so the schedule of the mass usually happens around 9 in the morning. The mass is in German and it was a great experience for a first timer like me who listens to Christmas songs in German.
Second day of Christmas ( or St. Stephen Day)
Here in Germany, you have an excuse to sleep in after the big party from Christmas. Yes, Germans and other countries in Europe including the Netherlands have 2 days of Christmas, both are legal and widely celebrated holidays! This is a mellow day, a quiet day to recover from the hustle of everything. Depending on the weather, people are still very active, running, jogging and doing sports during the 2nd day of Christmas. For typical Germans, they spend the second day of Christmas with their families, visiting Grandparents, enjoying seasonal threats and of course–ruhe or enjoying some peace & contemplation.
Also, do you know what else Germans do after Christmas?
Christmas won’t be complete without shopping!
They go shopping to grab the year-end clearance sales and buy everything on a decent price! Yes, Germans are practical, and spend their money wisely! Last year, we got our 7- foot Christmas Tree on sale for half of its original price!And we will be on the lookout once again for great things to buy this year!
How about you, do you also have unique Christmas traditions?
How do you prepare for Christmas for your family?
Sending you some warm cheers for the coming holidays!
As a normal consumer, I am always keen on checking where does a certain product is made from or manufactured. Who doesn’t like good quality? Back then at my work as a Quality Controller and in-charge of the Laboratory, my Boss would always tell our visitors that our Lab is being assessed by a German Lab. It may sound as a cliché but then it always brings the thumbs up.No further explanations needed.
There is something about things that are labelled with “Made in Germany” , or designed and of German origin. It is recognized worldwide as a label of highest standards, value and quality. And talking about German efficiency, It sounds right, and sells right. As an Expat here I value these things very much. I came from a third world country and the mention of “European made, or made in Germany”always gives me an assurance that its a great product. This is my personal opinion.
The other day, me and my sister were talking online when she shared to me that one of their sub- contractors is Viega Deutschland (Viega Press Systems). She asked me if I knew of their products since they mentioned that they are made from Germany .The moment they knew that its German-made, they have greater faith.
I have been living here in Bavaria for over a year now, and I am telling you, living with German efficiency has a tremendous impact in my life. Germany’s famous stereotype things are way more than their Beer, Cars and Sausages. Yes, the world-famous Oktoberfest (Beer Festival) is one big magnet from Munich, but have you ever wondered what other ORDINARY things you are using everyday, that actually originates from Germany?
or invented by Germans or Americans of German origin?
I was totally amazed that there are so many things which I discovered to be authentic German inventions. Keep on reading , you might realize that these are quite ordinary, so common, and that we can’t live without these things anymore.
Made in Germany, Ordinary yet Ingenious!
EASTER BUNNY (or Osterhase)
The Easter Bunny, at least as we know it today, first appeared in 16th century writings in Germany. In the 1700s, Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) settlers brought the tradition of the Easter Bunny with them to the new world. Their children believed that if they were good, the Easter bunny would come and lay eggs and treats into nests the children made out of upturned hats and bonnets!
Yes, the Envelops, office paper, printers, notebooks, filling cabinets, they are all made in Germany (or at least their size has been established in Germany).
If you are familiar with ISO, EN, and other Quality Standards, I am sure you know DIN. TheDIN is the acronym for “Deutsches Institut für Normung”, which is the German national institution for standardization (=ISO). The DIN created the DIN standard that specifies the paper size (DIN A3, DIN A4, DIN A5, etc.) that is used all over the world, with the exception of US and Canada.
ADIDAS AND PUMA
Even if you are not a sneaker fan or into sports, I am sure these top of the line brand of sneakers always rings a bell. You know that when you got Adidas or Puma shoes under your feet, you feel great. Adidas (the shoes with the three stripes) is the second largest sportswear manufacturer worldwide and was named after its founder, Adolf (Adi) Dassler. Adolf started producing shoes in the 1920s in Herzogenaurach near Nuremberg with the help of his brother Rudolf, who later formed the rival shoe company Puma.
Do you own a pair? What’s your favorite design?
I have been using this brand of drawing and writing materials from mechanical pencils to technical pens for years! With HQ in Nuremberg,Germany, Staedtler Mars GmbH & Co. KG is a German fine writing instrument company and a manufacturer and supplier of writing, artist, and engineering drawing instruments. The firm was founded by J.S. Staedtler in 1835 and produces a large variety of writing instruments, including drafting pencils, propelling pencils, professional pens and standard wooden pencils.
I live in the city where the HQ of Audi is located. Audi is the big thing here in Bavaria and of world-renowned top of the line car. Germans are crazy (in a good way) about their Autos, and cars are a big deal here. I understand why Germany is on top when it comes to cars. Name it, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, and Porsche to name a few. German car makers make a very good reputation worldwide. But safety is also something that goes with German-made brand, the AIRBAG.
Originated in Germany and the first time in 1981 as optional equipment for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the airbag has now become standard. We all know that it has been helping to save lives ever since.
Have you ever had a headache? Everybody does and so this medication is known worldwide.In 1897, the company Bayer developed the first pain remedy with minimal side effects. Aspirin is one of the world’s most-favored medications for pain, fever and inflammation. About 12,000 of the 50,000 tons of Aspirin produced annually still come from Bayer. Aspirin was even taken on the first moon landing in 1969: there was a box of the effective pain-killer on board when Neil Armstrong flew in the Apollo 11.
A total milestone in the micro world! When livestock was stricken by a dangerous disease throughout Europe in 1870, Robert Koch discovered that bacteria were the cause of the disease. He was also able to isolate the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. With these discoveries, Koch founded a new branch of science: Bacteriology.
Johannes Gutenberg was a German craftsman and printer who invented the first printing press with movable type in 1450. This invention revolutionized printing, making it simpler and more affordable. Printed materials were made available to the masses for the first time in history.
How many card/ID’s you have in your wallet which has a chip card on it? Today, everyday life is inconceivable without the chip card: SIM (phone card) , credit card, patient card – all important data are packaged neatly in plastic. Your whole personal identity in one small chip. Even my Aufenhaltstitel ( my German residence card) has a chip!The chip card was developed by Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup in 1969. In 1977, Dethloff applied for a patent for the microprocessor card, the so-called smart card, that can be freely programmed thus providing high functionality.
CHRISTMAS TREE (Tannenbaum)
Finland may claim Santa Claus but Christmas Tree came from Germany!
When I had my first German Christmas here last year, I was so curious and delighted even more of the magical tales of Christmas, especially White Christmas, with real snow and real Christmas tree. I never expected that Christmas tree tradition during Christmas originated in Germany. When I saw all the festivities in an authentic German Christkindlmarkt, and how Germans celebrate Christmas, I fell more in love with this tradition. A REAL tree glittering with shimmering lights in the snow is a dream come true.
In 1419, a Christmas tree was mentioned in a written document for the first time. This tree was decorated with candy and pastry and set up by bakers in Germany’s Southwest. The tradition to set up such a decorated tree at Christmas time spread throughout Germany and the whole world. Emigrants brought the Christmas tree to America, and in 1889 the first Christmas tree was set up in the White House.
PREGNANCY TEST and the PILL
In 1928 two German gynecologists: Selmar Aschheim and Bernhard Zondek created the first reliable pregnancy test in the history. All women dying to have a baby kisses this small pen-like invention once they found out they are pregnant!
On 1961 from Schering AG, With 50 micrograms of estrogen, Schering succeeded in simulating a pregnancy in the female body. The market launch of the first pill in Germany had far-reaching consequences: sexual lust no longer needed to result in the blessing of children.
Do you wear one?Contact lenses were invented and made in 1887 by the German physiologist Adolf Eugen Fick. He first fitted animals with the lenses, and later made them for people. These lenses were made from heavy brown glass and were 18-21mm in diameter.
In Philippines, people are crazy about Coke, while in Kuwait, they only know Pepsi. But did you know that the second largest brand of the Coca Cola Group originated in Germany in the early 40’s? And this is not a rumor, the official site tells the story:
“During the World War II: Germany suffered from shortage of resources, including the ingredients used in the Coca Cola formula. The German factory however made the most of those difficult times and managed to create a new soft drink, made of the available ingredients during war. Once the drink was formulated, the factory organized a contest and invited the employees to look for a name for the new drink. And they found one: the new drink was “fantastisch” and “fantasievoll” (adjectives in German that mean fantastic and imaginative) and so the new drink was called Fanta.”
I love and use this product for a long time up until now. It was another surprise to me knowing they are German-made! I literally grew up with this product. My mother loves this as well.
This round blue tin of creme can be found in every beauty section of leading supermarkets worldwide. It’s a classic skin care. However very few of us knew that it’s a German brand. Beiersdorf is Nivea’s parent company, which was funded in the 19th century in a chemistry shop in Hamburg. These days they still have their HQ in Hamburg.
This one is a lifesaver. I love Gummy Bears and my daughter is addicted to this. Here in Germany, they give this to children in the Doctor’s office, in the bakery, in the shops. When you live here in Germany, you will be surprised with the large aisle in the supermarkets allotted only for this product. So many types and flavors.
A sweet, colorful, tiny little bear in the palm of your hand. You pick it up to your mouth, and bite its little head off. The gummy bear. One of Germany’s most popular sweets was created in 1922 by Hans Riegel. He was born in Bonn, and opened a candy company called HARIBO, an acronym based on the letters of his name: HAns RIegel of BOnn. So next time your relatives asks for a souvenir from Germany, let them have a taste of this Gummy Bears!
Curious about how they manufacture Haribo Gummy bears? watch this!
JEANS AND YOUR LEVI STRAUSS!
Everybody loves wearing Jeans, and when you are wearing blue , you are absolutely IN. Jeans are forever, but did you know that they are born out from a German mind?
Levi Strauss was trained as a tailor in Bavaria before joining the California gold rush. Here he ran into prospectors and miners who complained about easily torn pants. In 1873, Strauss patented his idea of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. The Levi’s Jeans were born.
KINDERGARTEN ( German Pre-School)
Friedrich Froebel was a German educational reformer who invented the kindergarten (“garden of children”). He opened the first kindergarten in 1837 to protect children from misery at the beginning of industrialization. His kindergartens included pleasant surroundings, self-motivated activity, play, music, and the physical training of the child.
Here in Germany, we call this “Kita” and my daughter started recently in one of the local Kita in our neighborhood. Contrary to the American based system , here, Kindergarten kids are on “Play Based” system of learning and academics are not introduced up until the age of 6.
The person responsible for healthy teeth is the pharmacist Ottomar von Mayenburg. He experimented in 1907 with tooth powder, mouthwash and ethereal oils. What he came up with was a toothpaste he named Chlorodont. With a little peppermint added for good taste, he filled the paste directly into pliable metal tubes. And we’ve been brushing our teeth regularly after breakfast and before bedtime ever since.
Wherever in the world, New York, Singapore or Middle East, without safe elevator systems, the skyline of many metropolises would look different today. The TWIN elevator developed by ThyssenKrupp in 2002 represents a milestone in the history of elevator technology. The new system has two cabins in each shaft, arranged one on the top of the other, which can move to the individual floors independent of one another using the same guide rails.
I am running out of time and I don’t want this post to be a novel , I’m afraid its gone quite long .These things are all ordinary but come to think of it, what would be our lives today without them?
Bonus info: Other things such as the mayonnaise, Helicopter, motorcycle,MP3 format,refrigerator,Ritter Sport Chocolate,Steinway piano, tape recorder,telephone,television,Theory of Relativity (by Albert Einstein), Thermos flask, X-ray, Hugo Boss, Escada, Faber-Castell (from Bavaria), and the Scanner (Klitschograph).All these are genuine “MADE IN GERMANY” Contributions to the world!
More clever things you didn’t know but of German inventions are listed Here.
Thank you for reading my friends! Hope this helps you know more about the ordinary yet ingenious German contributions to the world! And if you are an Expat living in Germany, I am sure you live with these things, ingenously !
If you enjoyed this post, please don’t hesitate to leave some love and comments which one is your favorite! Until next time!
Guys, after almost 9 months of waiting, finally, we got a spot for my daughter in a Kita here in Germany!!!
I know, I know, I heard you, you might say that this is such a normal thing,no big deal, but hey NO! not here in Germany. Believe me, once you got a spot in the Kindergarten or Kita for your child here, you’ve got to be jumping for joy and saying thanks all over again. Because I am telling you, It’s not EASY. It was never EASY.
Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but yes, it is quite a relief when we got the letter from the municipality informing us that my daughter was selected to join a Kita this coming September.It was a long wait and therefore we loooove this news. A new chapter for my child’s life, and as well as for us parents. Finally,an end to long days and months of waiting.Of course, as a disclaimer, this is purely based on my experience. Maybe someone got so lucky that they immediately find a place for their child in Kita, a case to case basis. But I observed this phenomenon for long months now and therefore have established my opinion about the complicated system for childcare and Kindergarten schools especially here in our area in Bavaria, southern part of Germany.
So how did we got the spot? What techniques did we do?
If you are an Expat parent like me, I am so sure that the moment you moved into a new country and you’ve started to explore your new neighborhood for parks and playgrounds, the next thing you want to establish is joining a playgroup, Nursery, childcare or a Kita /Kindergarten for your little ones especially if you are a working Mama. It is very important to get a support group for your children. This is one of the natural ways in “re-potting the uprooted child”.
“So here’s the truth: Getting a spot in the Kita/Kindergarten for your child here in Germany REALLY ONLY depends on LUCK, or in logical terms-written in the stars, destiny, or some may call it fate, or your blessing!”
What you need to do as a parent ? Here are practical ways ( which I did!) on the course of our application for Kita in a span of almost 9 months;
Do your research. – I don’t speak German yet but I did a lot of research even prior to arriving here in Bavaria. I made a list from the schools which I saw online even while I was still in Kuwait and then mapped their location once we got here. Depending on the area where you live, find as many Kita that you can in your vicinity. If you apply for 2, the chance is almost zero, but if you apply for at least 8-10, then at least you can have a chance. For complete listings of Kita per area, you can always refer to the information provided online by your local municipality or ask from the Rathaus. For residents in Ingolstadt, there are so many information provided by Stadt Ingolstadt and there is a department who is really in charge of finding a space for every child to be put into a Kita/Kindergarten.There are persons there which main job is this; helping you get that slot for your child ( Freie Plätze in Kindertageseinrichtungen).
2. Explore and visit the Kita/ Kindergarten in your Area – You need to be out and find the location of the school. As soon as we have the list, we started walking and exploring and visiting the school one by one. It is always good to personally inquire from the staff for any vacancy.
3. Write a formal “Anmeldebogen” ( Application) in Deutsch ( German) and send by post or email– This one is very effective, at least it works for me. Most of the staff I’ve talked via phone always told me that they don’t speak much English so when they read my letter and my inquiry written in Deutsch, I got concrete answers, even quick replies.
4. Follow Up. Every single Month. If you are forceful like me-make phonecalls to ask for progress. Take time to follow-up. Sometimes, there might be a chance that someone left the Kita or moved away so a vacant space is available. The Kita that we’ve got is the one we’ve got on the opening day and not the first one we’ve applied or visited.Also, take note that depending on your area, you are most likely to get a spot on the place where your local address is linked to.
5.Attend the Opening Day – All Kitas and Kindergartens have an opening day held during the month of January where you can write the application once again for your child at the same time take a tour of the facilities of the school and their profile. This is very important. They have an announcement on this on their websites so pay attention for updates and changes of dates.
In the Kita, it compose normally of 2-3 groups, with around 25 children.During the opening day, I have asked the teachers what are their criteria in choosing a child to be in their Kita and here’s the information I’ve got :
Parent’s status – If both parents are working, single mother/father .
Location of residence, and if you work on certain companies ( like Audi , Schanzer etc.) then you can have some benefits or privileges.
Language of the child/ spoken at home and the age of the child.
Decision by the Municipality ( Department for Children and Families – Kitaplatzkoordinator)
With all these, all you can do is wait for a confirmation from any one of the school that you’ve applied, and nobody knows when will it be.They will give out confirmation around March and have the meeting with parents of the children who were chosen by month of June to prepare them for the start of semester in September.
So what are your options if you can’t find a place for your child?
Today, kindergartens here in Germany are an integral, yet voluntary, part of the early education system: Over 80% of all children between three and six years attend a kindergarten in Germany. The state supports parents with monetary incentives, such as tax reductions and child allowance (Kindergeld). The basic concept of Kitas and Kindergarten here are all “play based”, which is totally opposite from the American and English system which has more emphasis on academics. Now, I have written before how kid-friendly Germany is and how it is more AWESOME to be a kid living here. But then have a shortage of Kita really sucks!
Generally, in every area, there’s plenty of Kindergarten to choose from but it seems that it’s still not enough to accommodate the number of children who needs to be enrolled, add the fact the number of migrant’s children and the booming Expat population, especially in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or in Munich.The staff have always told us that the waiting list is too much and “kein frei platz “( or no vacant space) .Even if there are many options for parents on where to put their child, the competition is still tight.
Here are the childcare options for children ( 3 months up to 6 years old) here in Germany ;
Tagesmutter ( or Day mother) – yes, you can hire a “Mother“in Germany. The Tagesmutter takes care of 3-5 children in her home, like a small daycare. Tagesmutter take care of your child in their home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with peers.A Tagesmutter needs to be certified by the youth welfare office and most of them have a Pedagogy background and have a great experience with children.
Nannies- are also an option in Germany. In contrast to in-home daycare providers, nannies come to your home to care for your child. In-home daycare providers and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators. For a 20-hour week, in-home daycare providers charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.
Here in Ingolstadt, in South Germany ( Bavaria) , you can contact the Mobile Familie e.V if you are interested for alternative options. There are equivalent of these services depending in the area where you live.They have the following services available all throughout Germany:
Kibeno ( Childcare Emergency Call)- supports parents in emergency situations where a caregiver is needed for the child / child at short notice.
Kinderfrau – ( Childminder) -A childminder regularly takes care of the children in the parents’ household over a longer period of time. The Kinderfrau is employed by the parents.
Au-Pair ( Nanny/Governess) – An au pair lives with a family, supports them mainly with the care of the children and helps in the household.
Notmutter – (Emergency Mother) -An emergency mother takes care of the children of a family in emergency situations, especially when the mother is ill.
I hope the above information have helped you in a way to have an idea how it goes here when it comes to applying for a Kita/ Kindergarten for your child.
If you have more questions, please feel free to give comments or share your own experience for your child.
For Expat Mamas and Papas who are in this stage, good luck with your application !