There must be few places in the world that do Christmas quite like the Germans. And all they want for Christmas is a warm mulled wine and an even warmer smile… it’s cold out here!
Snow has fallen on the odd day in Australia but it wasn’t until last year that I saw snow manifest for the first time. I was driving, rather ill-equipped, through Kosciusko National Park and as my 4-cylinders climbed the icy roads, I stopped for a breather. I got out, and lept straight into the snow. It was then that I learned snow isn’t as fluffy as it looks in the movies. Especially when it’s thawing.
Over a year has passed and I got to experience the snow properly for the first time in the Himalayas this May. Then once again in Ukraine, and in Sweden and now north-western Germany. The average passer-by looks with confusion and sometimes scorn as I make snowballs and toss them about like a juvenile.
CHRISTMAS IN THE SNOW
Christmas is a nationwide affair in Germany and it’s bloody MAGICAL. Magical for the first time since I was a much more materialistic little tacker.
In every German city the Christmas Markets occupy every free block of pavement available, aloft with the sweet aroma of boiling mulled wine and half-metre long bratwurst sausages that are both affordable and delicious. A worthy snag.
Above the streets are an impressive web of Christmas lights, kind of like overhead tram lines, except instead of trams beneath, it’s Germany’s finest having a laugh and getting blind drunk while the kids fearlessly gorge themselves on choc-coated waffles and designer gingerbread.
Brass bands serenade the ‘revellers’ on one corner and on the next a male-female pair of Eastern Europeans deliver acoustic opera. It’s very quirky, often funny and certainly heartwarming.
CHRISTMAS IN THE SUN
Christmas in summer is another box of frogs. Whether it’s the relative youth of our nation, or simply the fact that I live there, Australia does not really observe the tradition of Christmas in quite the same fashion. In the 2 months of Christmas preparations (that’s 1/6th of the entirety of time, mind you), it mostly consists of a general increase in the amount of Bublé played on the radio and advertisments trying to get you to waste money on crap.
But where we lack, we compensate. Christmas with my family is a joy. It’s my favourite day of the year—with ANZAC Day a close second—and its got nothing to do with Christmas. Its the one day of the year the entire family gets together to drink beer by the barbecue and pool while sloppily getting through Jolene one line at a time. And no amount of hot wine or German carolers can beat that. Its important that I note that now.
At this stage of my youth, it’s important that I experience a Christmas away from home and earn my adult independence in another facet of life. I’ll still call you on Christmas morning Nana. I love you.
This year I’ll be trading the Crownies for the Carlsberg in Copenhagen, Denmark. And in true backpacker fashion, I’ll be spending the day with friends of mine from home and abroad at a youth hostel. As much as it pains me to say out loud, I miss home more than ever at this point in my trip. But no Christmas stacks up to missing the Bombers beat Hawthorn earlier this year, so it won’t be so hard this time around. I’ll get by with a little help from my friends… in the SNOW!
I won’t be home for Christmas, but I will be next year. Instead of leaving you with my year-in-year-out favourite Chrissy song Xma$ by Corey Taylor, I’ll keep it more positive this time around.
Cheers and Merry Christmas!