A Bavarian Weekend – September 2019

The last weekend in September we got to do several different local cultural things. There wasn’t enough to do a single post for each event, and since they all occurred over the same weekend, I figured I would condense them into a single “Bavarian Weekend” blog post. We had so much fun and I am excited to share these two events with you.

The first event we attended was at the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Regensburg Germany. This was a light show that was displayed against the Regensburg Cathedral (known as the Dom St. Peter or Regensburg Dom, the second being the most common name, in German) and it depicted the history of the cathedral and church. This cathedral isn’t the original church, as the original church burned in 1273. This was the third fire and this one rendered the church a complete loss. Thankfully, Regensburg was able to rebuild and build an absolutely gorgeous cathedral. In 1869, the two towers of the church were finally completed, and the light show we attended was to celebrate 150 years of the completion of the towers.

 

We ended up seeing the light show twice as my husband was not able to go with us on the first evening. Setting the history of the cathedral aside, the show itself was absolutely incredible. To have a) the backdrop of the cathedral (which is incredible as it is), b)the musical choices which matched perfectly with the feelings in each section, and c) the sheer enormity that must have been creating and engineering the light portion of the show. It was an experience that we will not be forgetting anytime soon.

With the end of summer/beginning of Autumn it becomes festival season here in Germany. Obviously there is the Almabtrieb (which you can read about HERE) and then Oktoberfest (blog post coming next week), but there is also a little holiday called Erntedankfest. Erntedankfest is the German Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival. It is celebrated at the end of the Harvest season typically on the first Sunday in October. This year the official date was October 6, but one of the little towns semi near us held their festival on the last Sunday of September.

The holiday/festival is intended to give thanks to the gods for a good, bountiful harvest. There is almost always a mass or church service at the start of the festival, that can also have a procession during the service through the town. There will also always be “bounty” at the center of the church and town square. This bounty highlights a “Harvest Crown” made of wheat and a large amount of produce from the season.

The practice of Thanksgiving, or a Harvest Festival, can be dated back to the Ancient Roman Empire (!) and is practiced all over the world with slight variations based on climate, region, and even religion. Fun fact: in 1934 Thanksgiving became an official holiday in Germany occurring every year on the first Sunday after September 29.

The Erntedankfest that we attended was in a little town in the heart of Hops Farming. They had local performers for music and dancing (although we didn’t get to stay long enough to see a lot of the performances), as well as food and drinks. We treated ourselves to a meander through the craft booths seeing everything from handmade mugs, handmade wood carved items (with him carving in front of us), to jewelry, and dirndls. Each of the booths were decorated with over harvested hops, which added such a nice touch, and spoke to the local farms. Everyone was dressed in their best (which was lederhosen and dirndl’s) and we simply soaked up all of the culture. There was an air of gathering, freedom, and happiness to this festival.

We treated ourselves to a giant pretzel (which was a struggle to eat split between 5!) and I treated myself to a couple new mugs. We had glorious blue skies and sunshine and it was just a really fun way to end the weekend on a high note. The kids loved seeing all of the booths and dancing along with the music.

And that was our Bavarian Weekend! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these cultural events through our eyes.

Thanksgiving Memories

Oh Thanksgiving. A holiday for eating, for being with friends and family, for remembering all of the good, and acknowledging what we are thankful for. Above all, thanksgiving for me has just always been about family. Spending a full, wonderful day with family and friends; laughing, creating new memories and inside jokes. It’s never really actually been about the food and eating (although that is always a fun side note). All through

As I sat down to write this post I was trying to think of what I actually wanted to say. I could list what I’m thankful for (which I will actually do in a bit), but I felt like I wanted to do more than just that. I could reminisce on past Thanksgivings, but the problem is I don’t have too many memories that really stand out to share that would make sense (the only one that comes to mind is one I’ll share below). I could share favorite recipes, outfits, decorations, etc. None of it really feels “right” and rather than not marking the occasion, I figured I would embrace that feeling and go with it.

I’ll start with my thankful list. This past year we’ve been so blessed with good food, good friends, and incredible experiences. I am thankful for those that have come into our lives this year, thankful for our boys who continue to show us how incredible life can be. I’m thankful for my husband who has supported me throughout the obstacles of this year. I’m thankful for our family, who we have seen quite a bit of this past year. I’m also thankful for YOU. You who are (and have been) reading my words that I write every week, commenting, following along on our journey. Thank you.

I want to share a quick Thanksgiving Story with you, our very first thanksgiving together.

We had been dating/together for about 3 ½ months when Thanksgiving rolled around. For me, those 3 ½ months had started with a blow up with my mother (due to my moving out of her house), a turning point in my relationship with her, and this Thanksgiving was not only the first time that Rob was meeting her, but also the first time that I would speak with her in those 3 months. Talk about stressful (although I don’t think Rob was outwardly stressed, he had already met my father and that was the hard one).

Thanksgiving was being held at the son of some family friends house. I had never attended a Thanksgiving by myself (even if this was technically with family and close friends, it was my first time being considered “separate” from my parents in terms of guest list) and I hadn’t the first idea what to bring. I wanted to be a good guest and polite, so I spoke with our family friends and tried to get some ideas. I ended up settling on dinner rolls.

***Real fast, let’s recap so we can set the scene. Me and my mom blow up and haven’t spoken in 3+ months. Rob’s never met my mother. My parents are putting on a good show, but I don’t think that they were in the best place of their marriage. All while being held at the child of a good family friends house…awkward***

So here we come, walking up the drive, store bought dinner rolls in hand (I seriously cringe at that memory, I would never now bring what I brought to a dinner I was attending). At the time, I hadn’t had the foresight to at least put the rolls into a nice container, or present them in a way that was more than just an after thought for the day. I was so nervous about what was to come.

***The dinner rolls actually ended up becoming the “joke of the day” and really lightened the mood. ***

Somehow we arrived before my parents did, so we were able to settle in and relax a bit before they walked through the door. I do remember us all (dad, me, Rob, family friends, right before my mom walked in) sitting around the back patio table talking about the latest expensive purchase (gun related) and the tension rising when my mom came out the backdoor. I think it may have been the most tense, awkward moment of the day. My mom was the epitome of polite, introducing herself, making polite chit chat, although I can’t deny that there weren’t a couple of snide glances or comments made in my direction. It was nothing serious or truly bad.

Once the moment passed, all went surprisingly well. We ate, we all made conversation, we left with our dignities intact (aside from me and my dinner rolls- which became the punch line of the day). I don’t know what I was actually expecting, but now it’s a funny memory to look back on.

Do you have a good Thanksgiving memory to share? What about a I’m thankful list? Share in the comments!