Maibowle, Woodruff Punch, Is A German Springtime Favorite

By Francine McKenna on Email

May, with the rebirth of nature after dark, winter months and the feeling of new life and beginnings it always brings, is one of the most popular and celebrated months of the year in Germany. Filled with festivals, processions and customs which differ not only from region to region but also from …

Francine McKenna

Germany’s East Friesland Tea Ceremony

By Francine McKenna on Email

East Friesland or East Frisia, in northwest Germany, is a mixture of coastal mudflats, dikes with lighthouses, green meadows, woods, lakes, un-spoilt sandy beaches and heath land, where for centuries seagoing traditions, fishing and farming have influenced the way of life in both town and country. There are castles, ancient churches, …

Francine McKenna

Groundhog Day, Hedgehogs and and the History of Candlemas

By Francine McKenna on Email

According to a German legend the forerunners to the Groundhog Day tradition were hedgehogs, which are now a protected species in Germany with their own Hedgehog Hotline, open to anyone with an Igel emergency, countrywide support associations and specialized food available in almost all supermarkets. Most healthy hedgehogs enjoy their winter hibernation, sleeping …

Francine McKenna

Germany’s Dried Fruit People, the Zwetschgenmännla

By Francine McKenna on Email

Prune Men, or Prune People really because over the years Zwetschgenmännla, prune boys who have been around since 1790 were joined by prune girls or Zwetschgenweibla, are one of the most popular traditional German handcrafts to be found all year, but as “Good Luck” symbols especially around Christmas and Silvester (New Year). Also known as Pflaumenmaennchen and Quetschenmaennchen, …

Francine McKenna

Authentic German Gingerbread Recipe

By Francine McKenna on Email

As with most legends surrounding old recipes the origins of this one are vague, but it is believed the word ‘Lebkuchen’, which is German gingerbread, comes from either ‘lebbe’, very sweet in old German, or ‘libum’, cakes in Latin, however it is known that as “Honigkuchen”, Honey cake, it was a favorite in 1500 …

Francine McKenna

Advent Wreaths and Advent in Germany

By Francine McKenna on Email

The enchantment of Christmas is everywhere during a German Advent and Weihnachten. There is commercial hype, although it is minimal.  These days the traditional seasonal specialties Stollen and Lebkuchen do begin to appear in the stores by October, however the deeply entrenched Christmas traditions, both religious and secular, attached to the celebration of Advent means it is a …

Francine McKenna

Celebrating Birthdays the German Way

By Francine McKenna on Email

There is a rule one has to know when a birthday is being celebrated in Germany. Do not under any circumstances give the birthday celebrant his or her greeting even a minute before “THE” day has arrived.  Even if you know you will not see the Geburtstagkind, “birthday child”, on the actual day, …

Francine McKenna

Halloween and All Saints Day In Germany

By Francine McKenna on Email

Witches played an important and powerful role as forest goddesses in the Germany of pagan times, and until the 18th century, German maps pictured them flying over North Germany’s Brocken peak in the Harz mountains, which is where they were believed to live.  However any sign of Halloween, the witches and demons very …

Francine McKenna

Germany’s Black Forest and its Cuckoo Clocks

By Francine McKenna on Email

The Black Forest in Germany, the Schwarzwaeld, on the borders of France and Switzerland in the far south west of Baden Wuerttemberg, is a favorite destination for tourists. A wonderful mixture of wild and romantic landscapes, woods, meadows, vineyards, hills, mountains, lakes, waterfalls and thermal springs, it is scattered throughout with ancient …

Francine McKenna

Fast Facts About Germany… How Well Do You Know Your German Trivia?

By Francine McKenna on Email

Germany is at the heart of Europe, bordering on nine countries, eight of which: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland are members of the EU, the European Union. Originally a group of six countries that in the 1950’s began a community under the motto, United in …

Francine McKenna