Chrismtas Letters

 

I’m back at hooooooooooome! And because I missed two weeks of letters, I thought I’d do a special Christmas letters!

 

Dear London – You were fun but I couldn’t live in you. Maybe near you. But not in you.

Dear London shoppers – You are all idiots and cannot walk at the proper speed. Work it out.

Dear Lufthansa morning flight chocolate croissant – I feel we’re more than good friends now. But I don’t think I can go on much longer with you. I’d like to start seeing other airplane breakfast items, I’m sorry.

Dear home friends – Love you all in the eye. I will be buying some kind of smart car, however.

Dear blog readers – I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are in the world.

 

Christmas linkies!

Rococo Romer posted about the wonderful Wiesbaden Christmas market. I wish I’d have had the time to visit!

I loved these photos from Culturally Discombulated of the elves at Macy’s grotto. I visited a few grottos when I was a kid but I think British ones are a lot less flashy than American ones. Santa must have to put up with our Christmases not being as swanky over here!

Speaking of photos, I LOVED this post from Herding Cats about taking Christmas photos. I dare say my parents have similar photos of us lot!

Back to Germany, here are some really lovely photos from a few years ago of Berlin at Christmas.

Another Christmas market – this time with Steven at the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt. The mugs look really pretty there!

And a pretty German Christmas pyramid from Confuzzledom!

Over to Japan with Breaking Moulds, talking about being an expat at Christmas. I used to find it so hard being in Japan at Christmas. I’m glad I did it for a few years because I can never take Christmas for granted now. People say that Christmas is all about commercialism and it’s so fake and shallow. But if you are taken away from your family for a few years and cannot see them at Christmas then you really appreciate being able to be there with them to see them open that gift you carefully selected for them.

In Japan, they choose a word of the year every year – and this post is a great look into this year’s word!

Hopping over to China for a hilarious post about keeping your child warm in winter. I love cultural differences posts!

Lastly, don’t forget to track Santa with the Norad tracker! HOHOHO!

 

I’ll be posting throughout the week so don’t worry! I’ll be in Dublin from Friday and so I hope you’re looking forward to even more travel posts!

Holiday Season Tag!

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I’ve been sat watching various YouTubers do the “Sweater Weather” tag, thinking that that would be so much fun to do. But it’d be kinda weird to copy a YouTube tag onto a blog…SO I decided to make my own tag up! It’s called the Holiday Season Tag and I’ve made it so I can see how other expats (and home-pats!) spend November and December. It can be a really great time in an expat’s life…or it can be some of the lowest times. It’s always an important time of the year for me, too, so it’ll be nice to share it with you!

So let’s get the questions rolling! These are aimed at expats, but if non-expats want to do this too then please answer the questions for where you are! Here are my answers – find the questions once more at the bottom of the post.

1. Do people celebrate anything at this time of year where you are? Are there any special customs?

Yep, here in Germany they do Christmas HARDCORE. When I was in Japan I felt like I missed Christmas every year but Germany makes up for it. There are loads of Christmas markets about where we all drink gluhwein and eat sausages (also melted cheese stuffed in a bread roll OM NOM NOM).

Also, mostly towards New Year (called Silvester here) Germans like to fortune tell by melting lead and seeing what shape it makes. I’ve never done it myself but it looks like fun.

2. Do you feel that you are missing out on anything by not being in your home country around the holidays?

I did very much so when I was in Japan but not so much here in Germany. Things I do miss are the things that get me excited in the run-up to Christmas; Slade and Wizzard music in the shops, the British Christmas tv adverts on tv, turning on the Christmas lights in town…and being part of decorating the tree at home. But German Christmases are pretty magical so I don’t feel low like I did when I was in Japan.

3. Do you go back home at all?

Yup. Work always finished pretty late so I’ll be on my Christmas holidays from the 23rd this year. For once, I’m not flying with Ryanair since I’m sick of them always trying to trick people on their website. Let’s see if Lufthansa are worth the extra money!!

4. Back to your expat country! What’s the weather like during the holidays?

COLD. It’s not the actual temperature but the wind that gets you here. There was snow from the start of December last year and the public transport went crazy. NEVER let a German sit and tell you that they are organised with the weather every year!! The trains stopped running, trams were frozen to the tracks… I have to commute to the south side of the city and it’s SUCH a pain when the weather messes the transport up.

5. Is there anything you’d recommend a visitor do/see/have if they are visiting your expat country around this time?

Christmas markets are a must. They are even better than those fake ones in Britain. For me, they really are where Christmas magic is made. There’s a little German ornament shop near the Christmas market in Frankfurt and if you are in need of Christmas presents then they have gorgeous hand made tree ornaments.

BONUS! Post a photo that best shows what it’s like in your expat country around the holidays.

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AHHHH Feuerzangenbowle!!! My favourite Christmas tipple!

So, I’d love for you to join in with the tag so I tag YOU!!! Grab the badge below and add your link to the comments. I’m afraid I can’t do one of those fancy link collection things as WordPress doesn’t allow fancy things.

For actual tags of people, I choose -

Confuzzledon, Deecoded, Ami in Franken, Breaking Moulds (remind me about Japanese Christmases!!), German-American Abroad, and my new favourite blog Marielle Green.

Sherbet and Sparkles
<div align="center"><a href="http://sherbetandsparkles.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/holiday-season-tag/" title="Sherbet and Sparkles"><img src="http://i910.photobucket.com/albums/ac302/miss_igirisu/2155e3ff-7c82-4fe5-a726-639f3bddd060_zpscd552533.jpg" alt="Sherbet and Sparkles" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Here are the questions again, all together so you can easily copy & paste them:

1. Do people celebrate anything at this time of year where you are? Are there any special customs?

2. Do you feel that you are missing out on anything by not being in your home country around the holidays?

3. Do you go back home at all?

4. Back to your expat country! What’s the weather like during the holidays?

5. Is there anything you’d recommend a visitor do/see/have if they are visiting your expat country around this time?

BONUS! Post a photo that best shows what it’s like in your expat country around the holidays.

Paris on Christmas Day

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One of the things that drew me to Paris over Christmas was that I was quite excited for the “challenge” of doing things in Paris on Christmas day. The night before my friend and I made a plan so that we could still manage with left over bananas or things stolen from the hotel’s breakfast if the local restaurants weren’t open.

We needn’t have made those plans.

As soon as I exited my hotel on Christmas morning, my nose caught the most delicious smell, and I found an open bakery. I was pretty sad that my quest for food had been so easy… And with that we set out to find things to do. We took a walk around the Louvre, and into Cité – where there were a surprising amount of shops still open. Not just bakeries and cake shops but also regular shops too. Looking in the windows of the gorgeous antique shops was also pretty fun.

I was surprised at how many people were out and about – I’d wanted to take a photo of a Parisian street with no people on it, but it was just as busy as on any other day. Not just Asian tourists, too – Western tourists and even locals were milling around, eating, drinking and just relaxing on Christmas Day.

The area around St Michel was all alive and kicking and there were endless opportunities for dinner. All in all, it was quite a let down on how easy the whole day was!

If you are planning to visit Paris over Christmas in the future, I’d say go for it – as you can see, there were no problems at all. And I certainly had an amazing time there during the festive period! In my research before I went I saw a lot of websites saying that nothing would be open and that I had to book a table at an expensive restaurant in order to eat – that’s all crazy talk. I booked nothing and managed – and you can too!

Christmas Tag

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The lovely Luchessa tagged me for the Christmas Tag and so now it’s Boxing Day I think it might be a good time to do this!

1. Which holiday do you celebrate?

I celebrate a strange watered-down expat version of Christmas. I’ve been sad that I’ve not really felt Christmassy this year at all but I guess that’s partly my own fault…

2. What are you doing for the holidays this year?

Well I’m in Paris! I came here on Christmas Eve and I’ll be leaving on the 30th. I don’t have any plans other than to go to Disneyland with a colleague on he 27th. I just want to chill out and take in the magic of the city.

3. What’s your favourite holiday drink?

Uhm… I don’t think I have one. I had some nice beers with an old friend when I was back home and that was nice. I do like Starbucks’ Christmas offerings though!!

4. Candy cane of gingerbread men?

Hmm.. neither. These are very American!

5. Favourite Christmas song?

A Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. Every time.

6. What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received?

Last year for secret Santa at work I got a kind of game with jelly beans that were poo and sick and nappy flavoured. It was from someone I really cared about so I was kind of annoyed that they hadn’t bought me a gift that reflects on me personally… Unless I make people think I’m the kind that is into disgusting flavoured jelly beans…

7. Have you ever made a snowman?

Yes, of course! Though not this year. Maybe it’ll snow in Frankfurt again soon and I’ll be able to.

8. What’s your favourite winter fragrance?

Ugh, I don’t know. I know this is about perfume but let’s make it about room smells! I love Christmas edition plug in air fresheners! They are awesome! I pinched mum’s Glade orange scented candle when I was back home. I can’t wait to light it in my room.

9. What is top of your list for Christmas?

Well it’s over now, but I really wanted a new coat, and I got one! Mum bought me the one from Miss Selfridge that I really wanted, but the size was too small! I had the 14 but it didn’t fit over my chest so we went to change it and decided on one from Red Herring (not online) which fit perfectly in a size 12! Just goes to show that sizes are crazy.

10. What’s the most important thing to you during the holidays?

Seeing family, mainly. But also getting a good rest, putting on a few pounds and doing a bit of Christmas shopping!

 

I’m not going to tag other people as it’s after Christmas now. But if you want to do this tag then please feel free and link back to me so I can see it!

Why “Little Saint Nick” is a Stupid Christmas Song

Photo credit

I love Christmas songs. I do. But there is one that I hate – Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys. I love the Beach Boys, they remind me of being 7 years old and starting out majorettes and dancing with pom poms. Nice. But this song is just plain STUPID. Let me show you why.

Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys

Oooooooo
Merry Christmas Saint Nick
Christmas comes this time each year
Oooooooo oooooooo

Let me stop you there. Christmas comes each year?!?! And at THIS TIME? Like, you mean, December? What happens if you’re listening to this in July? When I used to work at my local library on Sundays, we could play music of our choice and this one day we played Christmas music in July. True story. But seriously, do you really need to point out that Christmas comes each year, at “this time” (which we shall assume to mean December).

Well, way up north where the air gets cold
There’s a tale about Christmas that you’ve all been told
And a real famous cat all dressed up in red
And he spends the whole year workin’ out on his sled

I’m going to give you this “cat” business. American English is a strange thing. But does Santa really work out all year on his sled the whole year? Doesn’t he, like, look over the elves who are making the toys? But you’re saying he’s on his SLED? All year? If you say so…

It’s the little Saint Nick
Ooooo, little Saint Nick
It’s the little Saint Nick
Ooooo, little Saint Nick

Just a little bobsled we call it old Saint Nick
But she’ll walk a toboggan with a four speed stick
She’s candy-apple red with a ski for a wheel
And when Santa hits the gas, man, just watch her peel

What? The SLED is called “Saint Nick”? I think you’re a bit confused. The big MAN in red is Saint Nick. While we’re at it, do you, American men, know what a “speed stick” (which I imagine means “gear stick”) is at all? With your automatic cars? Really? Do you?
It’s the little Saint Nick
Ooooo, little Saint Nick
It’s the little Saint Nick
Ooooo, little Saint Nick

Run run reindeer
Run run reindeer
Whoaa
Run run reindeer
Run run reindeer

If this sled has a gear stick, why does it need reindeer? Stick to one story, please!

He don’t miss no one

And haulin’ through the snow at a frightenin’ speed
With a half a dozen deer with Rudy to lead
He’s gotta wear his goggles ’cause the snow really flies
And he’s cruisin’ every pad with a little surprise

Ahhhhhh
Oooooooo
Merry Christmas Saint Nick
Christmas comes this time each year

Oh hush!!

So do you believe me now? This song is stupid!

Scenes from the Christmas Market

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Here are some photos I’ve taken at the Frankfurt Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt.

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People buy gingerbread with cute sayings on it (“My darling” “My loving husband” “best mum ever”) and hang them around their necks. They walk around like this, and I think it’s pretty funny. Like a walking poster board of sugar.

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Cheese from the left is scraped and then melted to make delicious fondue.
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The tree is from Bavaria, near to the Austrian boarder.

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This is my favourite drink - feuerzangenbowle. Alcohol is dripped over a massive lump of sugar, and collects in a cauldron at the bottom. It’s a little stronger than most of the stuff you get at the Christmas market but it’s lovely all the same!