2. Advent – The Adventskalender (Advent Calendar)

… dann zwei…

2. Advent

One of our favourite Advent traditions is the Advent calendar. There are different calendars used around the world, although these days the most popular ones are cardboard calendars with 24 doors. One door is opened every day in December leading up to Christmas. Behind each door is a picture and often a Christmas-themed chocolate, such as a chocolate Christmas tree or Santa Claus.

In the early 1800s it was common to mark 24 chalk lines on your door and rub off one every day leading up to Christmas. It was around 50 years later that the first paper calendars were made, but they didn’t soar in popularity until the early 1900s. Although there is much debate about where in the world these paper calendars first appeared, one thing is certain – the first ones were mass-produced in Germany in the early 1900s (although production stopped during World War II due to a shortage of cardboard).

Initially, these cardboard calendars featured pictures from the Christmas story. Later, calendars filled with small toys and chocolate were introduced. The first calendar with chocolate in it was produced in 1958, although they didn’t become popular with the masses until the 1980s.

Today, there are many types of Advent calendars. One particularly popular trend in Germany is using a wreath of fir with 24 boxes or bags hanging from it: each bag or box is filled with a little gift. Advent calendars have become a big trend, with calendars available featuring different products such as perfume, makeup, chocolate, beauty products, toys – you can even get an Advent calendar for you dog or cat filled with treats for them!

Did you know…? The sparkly diamond advent calendar below has gone down in the Guiness Book of World Records as the most expensive Advent calendar in the world – valued at €2.5m. It was created by a Belgian jeweller, featuring jewellery designed by Frankfurt-based jeweller Biegel Schmuckdesign.

Wishing you all a lovely third Advent.

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Happy Nikolaustag

On the evening of the 5th of December, children (and some adults!) in Germany put their shoe or boot out at night (their Nikolausstiefel). When they wake up the next morning their shoe or boot is filled with treats – usually chocolate, fruits and nuts, and sometimes small toys.

… But what is the story behind this?

The 6th of December is a day where Saint Nikolaus is celebrated. St. Nikolaus is the one who fills the children’s boots with gifts and sweets overnight, although if the children have been naughty, rather than nice, they may find a Rute (a stick) in their boot.

Saint Nikolaus, born Nikolaus of Myra, lived in Turkey around the year 270 to sometime in the mid-300s. There are few documented facts about his life, and most of the stories about it are legends that have been passed on from generation to generation. In general, these legends all told of one thing: tales of how Saint Nikolaus gave the poor his wealth.

One story says that Nikolaus’ parents died when he was very young, and he inherited gold, silver, precious gems, palaces and big properties, as well as many animals, such as sheep, horses and donkeys. However, he wasn’t happy. One day he left the palace and walked down the street where he saw a beggar, Nikolaus went to reach into his pocket to give him something, but realised that his rich clothing didn’t have any pockets. So Nikolaus took off his biggest gold chain and ring and gave it to the beggar. He returned back to the palace later that day feeling happy for the first time in a long time and immediately requested that all of his clothes be fitted with large pockets. The next day he filled up his large pockets with nuts, apples and mandarins and walked through the streets to distribute these to the poor. Again, he returned home joyful. So he continued doing this for many days. A few years later when he was a teenager he decided to leave the palace behind and ride throughout the whole country and give his wealth to the poor. He eventually returned to Myra after giving away most of his wealth, but every year on his birthday, the 6th of December, he would ride through the street and give mandarins, apples, nuts and cake to the poor.

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1. Advent: Advent – The Origins

Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt…

Adventskranz 1. Advent

Advent is the four-week period leading up to Christmas and is celebrated on the four Sundays.

Did you know…? Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. The Advent period is the ‘coming’ of Jesus into the world.

Nobody really knows where Advent first came from, but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast in the period leading up to Christmas. Some people (very few) keep up this tradition and fast during these four weeks in order to prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus.

In medieval times in some parts of England, there were early forms of nativity scenes, often referred to as ‘advent images’ which were often displayed in small wooden boxes – they generally featured two small dolls: one representing Mary and one representing the baby Jesus. These boxes were often decorated with flowers and ribbons and were carried from door to door. It was actually considered as unlucky if you hadn’t seen one of these boxes before Christmas Eve!

Nowadays, there are several ways in which Advent is counted down, but the most common way is a calendar or candles… but more about those in the next two weeks!

We wish you all a wonderful first Advent.

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Sankt Martin

Tomorrow, on the 11th of November, children in every city and town in Germany will wander through the dark streets with lanterns (which they often made themselves at school) and sing songs. These small parades are often led by a man in a roman uniform riding a horse. The parade usually ends somewhere with a bonfire and the children are given a treat.

Sounds good, right? But why do they do this?

St Martin’s Day is a celebration of a roman soldier – der Heilige Martin von Tours (the holy Martin from Tours). St. Martin lived from 316 to 397 BC and was later promoted to the third bishop of Tours. The most famous legend about St. Martin tells of a cold winter’s day when he was riding through the streets and saw a homeless man shivering. St. Martin took his coat and cut it in half, giving the homeless man one half and saving him from freezing to death. This is who we remember on this special day.

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween has been a popular holiday in the USA for many years, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it started to become popular in Germany.

The Halloween Lovers

Some Germans have embraced the tradition of Halloween, particularly those living in bigger cities. For just over two decades many German children get dressed up and roam the streets receiving treats or performing tricks. Some Germans enjoy watching the children walk the streets dressed up and buying lollies for them. Particularly retailers have benefited from the increasing popularity of the holiday as Halloween has been reported to bring in over 200 million Euros in revenue in Germany every year – department stores and costume shops sell scary costumes and supermarkets sell themed lollies.

Children in Halloween costumes

The Halloween Averse

Whilst some Germans have embraced the tradition, there are others who don’t enjoy the holiday and state that it is very ‘un-German’. In some areas of Germany, such as Dahlem, a western suburb of Berlin, there are thousands of children trick or treating and households spend up to $150 on lollies to make sure that they have enough for all. Some of the residents refuse to spend this much money on lollies and are angered when the children pull a trick, such as throwing eggs at people’s houses or putting fireworks in their mail boxes. Part of the reason why some Germans don’t enjoy this holiday is also because it is only two weeks away from St. Martin’s Day, a day where children walk the streets with lanterns, sing songs and receive a treat in return – many Germans ask themselves why children should receive lollies on Halloween when they give nothing in return?

Whether you’re a Halloween fanatic or aren’t a real fan of it – Germany has you covered. If you enjoy the holiday you can dress up, decorate your house and buy lollies for all, or even head to the famous Burg Frankenstein near Darmstadt and enjoy the spooky show. If you don’t enjoy the holiday, the easiest thing to do is to put a polite sign on your door asking children not to ring the doorbell.

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Oktoberfest Withdrawals? We have the Solution!

It’s been a week since the Brisbane German Week and Oktoberfest Brisbane finished. We spent two weeks dressed in our Dirndl and Lederhosen, exploring German culture and eating lots and lots of German food – so now what? Are you craving a pork knuckle? Do you miss speaking German? Never fear!

On the first Tuesday of every month Germans throughout Brisbane gather at the Brisbane German Club in the Keller Bar to eat and drink together and chat. Whether you are a native German speaker, trying to learn German or simply enjoy the company of Germans – everyone is welcome!

Interested? Join our Facebook group  or simply join our next Stammtisch at 6pm on the first Tuesday in November.

We hope to see you there!

Image retrieved from https://concreteplayground.com/brisbane/things-to-do/german-fare-and-dj-andrew-at-the-brisbane-german-club/

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Bis zum nächsten Jahr!

What a wonderful two weekends it has been – we hope you had as much fun as we did!

From everyone at the Oktoberfest Brisbane we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who made this event possible and to everyone who attended for helping us celebrate German culture! We had an absolute blast dancing the chicken dance and singing along to the Fliegerlied with you. Thank you for supporting us year after year and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2018!

Bis zum nächsten Jahr!

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Das war so ein schöner Tag (la la la la la!)

What a day…

Our voices are hoarse from singing, our feet are sore from dancing, our stomachs are full of delicious food and we still have adrenaline rushing through our bodies from all of the rides.

We hope you had an absolute blast today – we certainly did!

Every year we spend months and months preparing this event for you, sometimes we are still up at 2am in the morning finishing an Infosheet or going over the agenda for the twentieth time, but seeing all of your smiling faces at the Oktoberfest for Teens makes it all worthwhile. Thank you from the bottom of our gingerbread hearts for being a part of this fantastic event.

For now – tschüss (goodbye), gute Nacht (good night) und bis bald (see you soon)!

– Your Oktoberfest for Teens Team

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Bis Morgen!

Lay out your Dirndl and Lederhosen, polish your dancing shoes and get to bed early, because tomorrow is our absolutely FAVOURITE day of the year! In just a few more hours we will be opening the doors to the Oktoberfest for Teens 2017!

We have so many exciting activities and performances in store for you and absolutely cannot wait to see all of your smiling faces walk through the gate tomorrow morning!

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Diese Woche ist es so weit!

What an amazing first weekend of Oktoberfest Brisbane!

Although it was a lot of fun, our favourite day of the year is still coming up – Oktoberfest for Teens 2017 is happening this Thursday!

Did you know that our Oktoberfest for Teens is the largest German language schools event in all of Australia? There will be food, entertainment, rides, competitions, games… and most importantly oodles of fun!

We absolutely can’t wait to see you – just three more sleeps to go!

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