Monday, January 10, 2011

Three King's Day

             Three King's Day or Dreikönigstag in Germany.
 I honestly didn't know much about this holiday until we moved to Germany years ago. 
Living in other cultures you find differences in the way holidays are celebrated.
January 6th I had heard was the fest of the Epiphany. This was not something that we celebrated in the protestant tradition I was raised in in the United States.
This fest was based on the biblical story that tells of the Magi or Three Kings - traditionally known as Caspar, (or Kaspar or Gaspar) Melchior and Balthasar - who saw a bright star on the night Christ was born and followed it to Bethlehem.
There they found the Christ child and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In England, January 5th is known as 12th night. This is the official end of the season's "Twelve Days of Christmas" counting from Christmas evening on December 25 to the  fest of the Ephiphany on January 6.
We all know the old Christmas carol "The Twelve Day's of Christmas" where the "true love" gave gifts of french hens, golden rings and that very famous" partridge in a pear tree."
It's also said historically the traditional Yule log was also kept lit in homes until Twelfth Night in order to bring blessings and good fortune throughout the upcoming year.

In Germany, children go from house to house on Epiphany eve, singing carols and chalking your house with the traditional blessing of the magi. Often a  Dreikonigskuchen or Three Kings Cake is also served that night to celebrate the occasion.

These were our very adorable Carol singers and collectors of money for 3rd world charities.  I love the fact our donations to these "mini kings" who sang so sweetly for their money goes to help
less fortunate people.

When your donation is given they "Bless" your house with 20 C (standing for Caspar)+ M(standing for
Melchior) + B (standing for Balthasar) and the year 11 for 2011.
This is a tradition that I look forward to each year.
Happy 3 Kings Day everybody!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Day, Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken, Switzerland was our New Year's destination. Interlaken lies between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.  The mountains Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau tower around this city.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Felix Mendelssohn loved to travel in these mountains.
They sure are beautiful.
We spent New Year's Eve with my cousin Terry and her husband Rich in Bern, Switzerland.  Terry had heard there was a festival in Interlaken on New Year's Day.  We hopped the train and landed in this beautiful setting.

We began our adventure watching a para-glider land in the park.  It was a very nice touch down.

This is cousin Terry and me heading off to see what was on offer at the festival. Terry asked to be removed from the photo even though her coat is really nice!
We love to look at the food and fashions where we go.

This fun band was leading the way to the festival.  It seems to be led by the Snow Queen herself.

Here's the band playing.

The next entertainment we happened upon were the alpenhorns.
I'd only ever heard them on a RICOLA commercial before.
I found them really beautiful to listen to.

The Alpenhorns are a lovely instrument.

Next up a cowbell choir!

This was a first for us all.  Technically I believe it's called a Trychel March.  Trychel (also spelled Trichel, Treichel, Treichle)  means a large cow bell traditionally used in Switzerland. I am not sure of the significance of this procession at the New Year but perhaps someone out there can enlighten me.

We enjoyed the music and walked along taking in the sights and sounds. We did stop to oggle the Swiss chocolate shop!

Looking at that chocolate sure make me hungry so I was thrilled to see the entrance to the fest because I knew my "fest food" was right around the corner.

I adore Swiss Raclette cheese.  It is made on both the Swiss and French sides of the Alps. I like the Valais Raclette.The Valais Raclette is made according to ancestral methods. It is a semi-hard cheese made from unpasturised cow's milk.  The smell while cooking can be a bit off putting but it is DELISH if you can get it past your nose!

The vendors heat the cheese blocks.  The Raclette cheese has an ideal fat and moisture ratio that prevents the cheese from separating when melted so it's perfect when melted and scrapped onto the bread. 

Mac wasn't sure about this but I was determined he should open himself up and try something new.

RESULT....success!  Mac loved it.

I couldn't resist showing you one little "fest fashion"
Cousin Terry said, "Oh my eyes....that's just wrong."
I contemplated the leather and fake fur look and
decided she must be channeling her inner "YETTI!" 

The sun was setting over the mountains and we decided it was time to take the train back to Bern as it was getting too cold to stay outside.
Thanks for a lovely day out TERRY AND RICH!
Happy New Year to all my readers.
Thanks to all of you who missed this blog and said so while I was home in the States