Saturday, November 13, 2010

Community

Inspiration Avenue's weekly challenge really got my thinking cap on this week. "Community" is the theme, and if possible connected with food. Think Thanksgiving, huh? After all, it's November. But I thought there must be more to it than a turkey and a friendly gathering of family and friends.


And I remembered the third weekend in December back in Tübingen, Germany, where I spent twenty years of my life. It's a medieval university town with its typical old buildings that look like they're straight out of a fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. Narrow lanes wind among those houses and cars are not allowed within the city center. It's a huge pedestrian zone that makes wandering the old alleys so peaceful.

This is the setting for one of the most beautiful traditions of the town: the Christmas Market. It's nothing like its big siblings in Nürnberg, Stuttgart or München and so many other cities. First, it only takes place from Friday to Sunday and not weeks and weeks and weeks. Second, it's not commercial. There are tons of local artists who sell their work, school classes who raise funds for their annual end-of-the-year trip, small local environmental groups who fight for preservation, neighborhoods who try to raise awareness and money for the disabled - the list could go on and on.

So that's the eye-candy. The next is the food - just one word: delicious. The food is mainly local specialities, the best time to eat "Bubaspitzle mit Sauerkraut" (a thin rolled kind of potato pasta with sauerkraut and sometimes bacon), one of my fondest memories in the food department. There was a guy with a complicated portable special oven who made Swiss Raclette that was to die for. Of course there was Glühwein (mulled wine), very welcome in the cold. None of the food or the drink was allowed in any kind of plastic or paper container, everything had to be re-usable! So you bought a beautiful mug with the words "Tübinger Weihnachtsmarkt" written on it and this could be refilled at any booth that offered Glühwein or juice punch (I still have half a dozen of those mugs - each year has a different color). Most of the plates were eatable - envision big sturdy waffles for apple strudel! No trash!

Throughout the market you could listen to music. Children were singing, little choirs stood at the fountain in the market square, someone played the violin, another one the bagpipe, and again another one the flute. There was a cantata concert in the main church. There were jugglers and clowns. It was a very festive atmosphere.

We felt like community, we were community. People spending three days in the cold in order to help someone else. To serve others. To share stories. To entertain children and their stressed parents. To bring smiles on the cold faces, red cheeks from the mulled wine.

That third weekend  in December, no matter whether the sun was shining, it was raining or snowing, was spent in the streets among those medieval buildings. It was freezing cold - always. But everyone was there. Community.

17 comments:

Diana said...

What a beautiful description of this special time in Germany. I so enjoy hearing about my heritage. I'm going to copy this for my Mom. I think she would enjoy it, too. Thanks for sharing.

Rhonda said...

The way you described the Christmas Market, made me feel like I was there! It sounds like a lot of fun. What a great memory to have. Indeed, it was community. Thanks for sharing!

Heather said...

Wish I was there! Your description sounds wonderful!

Robin Norgren said...

Hi there new friend-so lovely to meet you! Very cool to read your bio: I am having the opposite experience in that I am an American living in Germany this year and it is in Germany that I founD my creative soul...So very happy to meet you and I think the shot is INCREDIBLE!

dthaase said...

wonderful post

Christine E-E said...

truly a community atmosphere! especially, the helping others! and the waffle as a plate - no waste! great concept!!

see you there! said...

Thank you for the lovely description of the Christmas Community. We should all be so lucky as to have something like that in our own town.
I'll bet you treasure the cups you collected.

Darla

Magpie said...

Your description of the food and the Christmas Market brings it alive! I love German food...I have German family members on both sides of my family ~ I think the love of that sort of food must be genetic! It's comfort food to me. Love the idea of the edible plates!

Thanks for playing along with us this week with this gorgeous photograph!

Maggie

La Vie Quotidienne said...

What a wonderful post. With our busy lives we don't often think of acting in a community spirit. What a great memory.

Julia Dunnit said...

Fab fab memories, and by far a better Weihnachsmarktin the true spirit of it all. The last one I visited was in Berlin....and it could easily have spoiled every earlier memory!

Marcie said...

Thank-you for this glimpse into your previous life in Germany. So enjoying the stories...

Kate on Clinton said...

I always love hearing about smaller non-commercial traditions and holidays. They have improved the Christmas markets here in various small NYC parks - more artisans, no tube socks - but no children's choirs or environmentally friendly food utensils!

Amanda said...

Came over from Inspiration Avenue. Great photo and wonderful story. I really like your blog. I am newer to blogging and am amazed at that blogs I continue to come to and the wonderful people and art I find. Thank you for sharing.

IM GIRL said...

What a magical place. Thanks for transporting me there for a visit! I thoroughly enjoyed it!!

Cynthia Schelzig,Cynnie said...

Wonderful post and I love your comments about the Xmas Markets here....love the foto with the negative on the mugs...gorgeous.

Silvia(Barnie) said...

Danke für diesen wunderbaren Bericht, ich kann mir den Weihnachtsmarkt und die herrliche Atmosphöre sehr gut vorstellen. Leider sind die meisten Weihnachsmärkte doch ziemlich auf Kommerz aus. Schade, dass Tübingen so weit von uns entfernt ist, der Markt stände sonst mit Garantie auf der Liste ;)

priti.lisa said...

The Christmas Market sounds wonderful! I love learning of other culltures traditions, Thank you.
xo