Friday, April 12, 2019

Get Ready for Easter, German-style:

I have memories of my mother blowing out eggs to make beautiful hollow shells to hang on some pussy-willow branches in a vase to make a Easter-tree.  I have a cake form from when we lived in Germany to make a little lamb-shaped cake.  And the flowers of Spring ... I would LOVE to visit a German flower shop right now!

Easter's on its way!
Here are some ways to celebrate Germany-style:

Vintage German Easter eggs were made of paper-mache' ... the blogger cited above shares her version - inspired by her German mother.  

The Lindt gold bunny!

Easter meal & dessert - from "Just Like Oma" - Quick German Recipes

Traditional German decorations
can be found at Käthe Wohlfahrt shop online:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Easter - Ostern Connection

If you study the origins of the English word Easter and the German word Oster(n), you will find that the roots are the same.  I have an interest in linguistics, so this concept fascinates me, and I have found that there are several theories of the origin of these words:

In 7th-Century England, a monk named Bede (the Venerable) was a scholar who studied and wrote about many subjects to include science, literature and astrology; he also wrote about the topic of celebrating Easter.  He suggested that an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eostre, who represented spring and fertility, was who Easter represented.  Her celebrated month was Eosturmonath, which corresponds to what we now call April.

Another theory is that the word Easter derives from an older German word meaning east, which comes from an older Latin word meaning dawn.

As Merriam-Webster Editor-at-Large Peter Sokolowski sums it up..., “The basic logic seems to have been: ‘Spring > sun > dawn > east.'”

There is no doubt that Ester and oster, the early English and German words, both have their root in aus, which means east, shine, and dawn in various forms, according to An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed., s.v. “Easter.” (Walter W. Skeat, 1893).  So, East - sun rising, brighter days, longer days, earlier dawns ... Ester, oster, Spring-time!  Makes sense.

And lastly, some suggest that Easter has its roots in the German word for resurrection Auferstehung.  The older Teutonic version of the German word is a combination of 2 words:  Ester (which meant first) and stehen, the verb that means to stand.  These words combined into erstehen, which in modern German is now auferstehen = to resurrect.

When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German in 1522, he chose to use the word Oster to refer to the Passover as it was celebrated before and after Jesus' resurrection.    English Bible translator William Tyndale used the word ester to refer to the Passover in 1525.  The "a" was added to ester later to make it Easter.

In translations of I Corinthians 5:7, Luther & Tyndale refer to Jesus as the "Easter Lamb":

Luther— . . . Denn wir haben auch ein Osterlamm, das ist Christus, für uns geopfert.
Tyndale— . . . For Christ oure esterlambe is offered up for us
And that, my friends, is a short (?) study of the connection between Easter & Ostern... You're welcome!  :) 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It's Not Bad At All (German Spa Towns)

In years past, the American military were stationed in various locations that were German spa towns such as Bad Kreuznach, Bad Aibling, Bad Kissingen, and Bad Tölz.  Those towns weren't "bad" at all - they were a designated Bad (spa or resort) town.  When my dad was stationed at Wildflecken (affectionately known as "Wild Chicken") as a civilian employee, we lived in a town called Bad Brückenau.  It was a wonderful place to live (sadly, I was in college during those years and was only able to visit in the summer and at Christmas).

Anyway, these spa towns can be found all over Germany usually near some source of mineral spring water, with parks where one can take in the clean air and partake of relaxing treatments such as hydrotherapy, hot-cold baths, saunas, massage, Kneipp wading pools, and inhalatoriums (Grandierwerke), which produce saline-droplets that create an atmosphere much like sea air.

Being sent to the spa for Kur (a course of treatment, a cure) can be for preventative reasons, treatment, or recovery after an illness.  There are even Abmagerungskur for dieters.  (Abmagerung means weight loss; ironcially it is the same word used to define emaciation!)  Kur is often prescribed by a doctor and is covered by the German healthcare system.  Not a bad idea ....

Bad towns are very lovely.  Here are a few that I have visited (and as I come across more pictures, I will add more):

As I mentioned, my parents lived in Bad Brückenau for a few years, located in Northern Bavaria in the Bad Kissingen region.  Its curative waters are horribly sour tasting, but it was a favorite of Bavarian King Ludwig I, who funded some renovation of the town in the mid 1800's.

Bad Homburg is near Frankfurt, on the southern slope of the Taunus Mountains.  It is officially known as Bad Homburg von der Hoehe ("before the heights") to distinguish it from other towns called Bad Homburg.  This Bad Homburg is one of the wealthiest towns in Germany!  It boasts that it has Champagnerluft (Champagne air).  It also has a casino in the park.

Russian nobility particularly favored Bad Homburg, and there is a Russian chapel nearby, an Eastern Orthodox church, built in 1896.   (pictured above)

Bad Mergentheim is located in the Main-Tauber (Rivers) district of Baden-Würtenberg; it was recognized as a spa town in 1926.  Most interestingly (in my opinion!) is that this town was the headquarters of the Teutonic Order from 1526 until 1809.  Teutonic knights, as the members were called, were a voluntary military mercenary group who protected Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and in the Baltic regions, as well as often worked to establish hospitals.  

Bad Mergentheim as a Ordensmuseum (a museum of the Teutonic Order) located in the medieval castle that was once the home base of the German Teutonic knights.  The picture above was taken in Bad Mergentheim's market square.  

Have you visited a BAD town?  If so, I hope your experience was good!   :) 


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ready for Frühling (Spring)!

We moved to Würzburg, Germany in January of 1996 (and lived there for 3 years).  After the wet-cold and sometimes snowy days of winter, by March, we were ready for SPRING!
The pink cherry blossoms lined the walkways around the Residenz, coloring the recently barren trees, a first sign of the spring season.

The flower beds bloomed with carefully planted tulips and other spring flowers.

Landscaping around all the castle gardens in Germany is so fascinating.  You can just imagine how many hours and how much planning the beautiful patterns and groupings of flowers and greenery takes!

We also ventured up to the Festung (Fortress) Marienberg, which overlooks and protected Würzburg and the Main River.
Its flower garden showed potential, which would soon bloom.

Another favorite place we visited near Würzburg was Werneck, a small town a little north of Würzburg.
The town also has a baroque-style palace, designed by Balthasar Neuman, who also designed the Residenz, both commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg.

The palace was turned into a psychiatric hospital between 1853-55.  It is one of the oldest psychiatric institutions in Germany.  Perhaps the lovely gardens were part of the therapy for many a troubled patient?!

Germans sure do love their flowers, florists, and gardens!
And I do too!

My husband and I lived in a little town just north of Würzburg called Estenfeld.  This little village had charm and history of its own, which I hope to post about another time.
We spent many happy hours walking through and around our little town.  It was a farming community, and springtime was heralded by the smell of Jauche.  Jauche is liquid manure that is spread on the fields as fertilizer, of course. 
Our town was surrounded by fields of yellow rapeseed, a member of the mustard family, used mainly for making canola oil.  But also, sunflowers:

I'm ready for springtime.  How about you?

As a favorite children's song of mine ("Kuckuck, Kuckuck") states:
Frühling!  Frühling!  wird es nun bald.
Spring!  Spring!  will soon be here.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Bahn, Flugzeug, und Auto, Pt. 2 (Trains, Planes, & Automobiles)

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. 
The great affair is to move.” 
― Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

Once the travel bug has bit you, an airport becomes the most exciting place you can be!  In the Frankfurt airport, there is a great black board with departure schedules; it is wonderfully old-fashioned and the individual letter and number blocks click and roll as the schedules update.  I have always loved to stand in front of it and read off all the places one might go anywhere in the world - if only one could.  

Truthfully, I love travel in any mode - although ships and ferries are my least favorite (since I always get a touch of queasy sea-sickness!).  My travels in Germany have afforded me many different means of public transportation. 

In my previous post about travel and transportation (link here), I showed some pictures of our train travels.  Above is one more form of transportation that is the S-bahn (ca. mid-1980s), which stands for Stadtschnellbahn (city rapid railway).  While the regional trains and the ICE (inter-city express) trains get you from one city to another, the S-bahn gets you around a city and its suburbs without stopping at every station as the U-bahn and Strassenbahn do.   

In the picture above, my little brother is getting his ticket for a U-bahn ride (or Untergrundbahn - underground train or subway) sometime in 1984 or 85.  I think it is interesting to note that Germans "pull" a ticket out of the machine ... ein Fahrschein ZIEHEN.  Ziehen can mean to pull, to take, or to draw (out).  

In the picture above, my little brother is standing by an old Frankfurt Strassenbahn (street car), yet another common form of public transportation in cities.   There's also buses readily available.  You are bound to get where you are going one way or the other!!  

One last photo of a streetcar in Würzburg in 2012 (above), leaving the train station behind it ... I think you can probably tell that the cars have been updated a little since the 1980s.  

More on transportation in my next post - Part 3 of this series.  

Read Part 1