in Germany they celebrate Christmas a little differently than how we do in New Zealand. first of all, it’s winter. this means the days are short and cold and there’s little option other than celebrating indoors (this was weird part number one (of many) for me). secondly, the main meal is prepared and eaten on Heiligabend or Christmas Eve, after which gifts are exchanged or people go to church. this leaves Christmas Day basically as a free day to either go to church, visit family etc.
being my first Christmas away from home i was basically just stoked not to be on my own. my friend Ania kindly invited me to spend the holiday with her and her family here in Essen. the 23rd saw us visit a small town nearby and take in the last of the christmas markets there as well as putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. on the 24th we spent the day preparing the evening’s meal together, which i think was quite a nice idea and left me now with a few more recipes up my sleeve for when i come home. we ate beetroot soup stuff for starters, rotkohl (a red cabbage based dish), turkey and these dumpling type things called pieroggi – a delicious meal which we gladly repeated with leftovers on Christmas day evening. dessert was the richest chocolate mousse i’ve ever tasted, made of twelve egg whites and 600 grams of chocolate. lecker.
Christmas day for us was spent visiting the Duisburg Zoo – probably the one place i’d never have expected to spend a Christmas day at, but nevertheless it was a good one haha. amongst other things i saw a black bear swimming, a raccoon, a dolphin show and many animals being fed headless baby chicks for Christmas lunch… mmm.
i didn’t get the white Christmas i’d dreamed of, instead we had temperatures of 11 or so degrees, a balmy kinda temperature! but i was happy all the same and managed to join in a little with the Christmas celebrations back home via skype too. and to top it all off, Helmut kindly cooked me sauerkraut on boxing day just before i headed off to the airport after i mentioned to him the previous evening that i’d yet to try it. being one of his favourite dishes, he was quick to capitalize on the opportunity, and a photo below can only explain better what it is like… fermented cabbage with extra bits of meat thrown in there for more flavor! all i can say is that it’s very salty… and probably not the best breakfast dish. but it’s another thing ticked off my german bucket list!