German Traditional Sunday

German Traditional Sunday! Great food and a greater sense of community

German Traditional Sunday

As I look back at my life, growing up in a small town in Germany, I’m reminded how important the German traditional Sunday was in bringing the community and families together. The atmosphere; that special feeling of warmth, joy, and togetherness; was only outdone by the magic of the Christmas and Easter holidays. Nevertheless, this “day of rest” was always a time cherished by every member of the family—and the traditional Sunday meal was a big reason why. (See my traditional Sunday menu recipes below.) Preparations for the gathering started on Saturday, and everyone had responsibilities, including the children. And the reward—from the brisket and dumplings to the cakes and puddings—couldn’t be more delicious.

Meal German Traditional Sunday

Preparation of German Traditional Sunday

On Saturdays, my mother would wake up early to run errands—visiting the local butcher, bakery, and grocery store. As a young child, I always liked to join her because the butcher would give me a free sample bologna. But we had to hurry, all the stores closed at 1 pm for the rest of the weekend until Monday. And soon, my older brothers would be returning from school. That’s right, we had school on Saturdays. Luckily, kindergarteners, like myself, were spared.

Back home, mother would start cleaning the house and preparing the soup and the vegetables. She would also make two cakes for Sunday afternoon, one simple one and one that was more of a pastry. While all this was going on, my siblings and I helped with the chores and we each shared different responsibilities. It was serious work, but we knew if we did a good job, we would soon be playing outside with our friends. I loved to shoot marbles. And I was good at it, often beating the older boys in the neighborhood. The other kids would walk on stilts or buckets. Some girls played the Chinese rope or hopscotch. Many children would also gather rocks of varying colors to draw and decorate the sidewalks and streets. It was a fun time for sure.

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Saturday’s final task was sweeping the streets. It was a chance to chat with the neighbors during this communal activity. However, when the church bells rang (at 5:00 pm in the winter and at 6:00 pm in summer) all the children knew it was time to go home—but not before picking up the milk from the farmer who lived three houses down the road. When we arrived home, the water for the bath was heated up in a large kettle over a wood fire. (This kettle was also used to wash the laundry and to cook the sausages after butchering once a year.)

[Pictured on the right, a photo of my grandmother (in the center) picking up her milk.]

IMG_5193 Preparation German Traditional Sunday

After bathtime was dinnertime. The meal consisted of fresh bread, an assortment of cheeses, homemade pickles, fresh-picked vegetables from the garden, the ham my father painstakingly smoked, and homemade sausages (which were preserved in jars or cans from the last butchering). I didn’t care much for the sausages, but loved the fat (Schmalz) that formed on the top. When dinner was finished, it was time for bed. Bedtimes, of course, depended on our ages. Out of seven kids, I was the third youngest.

A German traditional Sunday morning began with breakfast—and the first slices of mother’s cake were served. Soon, we would have to get ready for church or Sunday school. My mother would give us a choice between the two. (My brothers and I usually picked Sunday school because we could do arts & crafts. On nice days, we even played outside.)

[A picture of two of my brothers and I at Sunday School.]

Routine German Traditional Sunday

Afterwards, we would come home and the table was already set and lunch was prepared. Out of respect, and because he was the main breadwinner, my father was served first. After lunch, we would help my mother hand-wash the dishes. My father would take a little nap on the chaise lounge that sat in the kitchen. Later,  we either go for a walk or entertain visiting relatives. I wouldn’t want to miss those times because, in addition to the coffee that was served, there was mother’s pastry. So good.

These German traditional Sunday experiences are truly memorable. It was a time when children could feel safe but also independent. The whole village would come together—sharing in responsibilities and looking out for one another. It was a community in every sense of the word. Even as children, we understood our part in helping out around the house and in the neighborhood.

Today, as a grandmother of five, I do my best to uphold the traditions and support the values that keep us all connected. It starts with the meal. So, without further ado, let’s eat!

Yours, Oma

Scroll down to click on the recipes for a traditional Sunday meal

German Traditional Sunday Food

Bone Marrow Soup (Markklöβchensuppe)

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Bone Marrow Dumplings (Markklöβchen)

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Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing)

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Brisket with Horseradish Sauce (Suppenfleisch mit Meerrettichsoβe)

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Chocolate Pudding with Vanilla Sauce (Schokoladenpudding mit Vanillesoβe)

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Apple Cake on a Sheet (Apfelkuchen auf dem Blech)

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German Cheese Cake (Käsekuchen)

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You’re all set for one of the typical German traditional Sunday lunch menus. Thanks to one of my grandsons who volunteered to be the taste tester. 

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German Wine Festivals

German Wine Festivals! It is time for new wine! Great bottles and the Recipes to match.

German Wine Festivals

While Oktoberfest is in full swing in America, the Germans have moved on from their September celebration and are ready to commemorate the fruit from the vine. That is right, it is time for new wine and to introduce the fermented grape juice at the German Wine Festivals.

In October, the well-known wine-growing regions between the Rhine, Mosel, and Saale Rivers are starting to pick their grapes and press them into wine. Throughout this part of Germany, weekends are filled with festivals and wine-tasting events. The new wine is called “Federweisse.” Feder meaning feather and weisse meaning white. Together, Federweisse translates to: Newly pressed wine.

Whereas pretzels belong to beer, onion tart belongs to Federweisser. If you can not get this type of wine locally, you can always substitute it with any of your favorite chilled bottle of white wine. Here are some of mine.

Scroll down to find the recipes

Oma’s favorite white wines for fall:

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Germans live by the principal: “Essen und Trinken halten Leib und Seele zusammen,” which means, “Food and Drink hold body and soul together.”

Pair your white wines with these savory fall recipes:

Onion Tart (Zwiebelkuchen)

It’s really more like a quiche, but the Germans would never dare call it that!

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Boston Lettuce Salad with Oma Mutti Dressing

“Oma Mutti” is what my son called his grandmother. It means “Grandmother Mommy.”

Boston Lettuce Salad Recipe

How do like them apples?

It’s peak of apple season so, naturally, you’ll find lots of desserts and drinks—including apple cider, juice, and wine—made from this deliciously versatile fruit. My Apple Streusel Cake and Homemade Apple Sauce has always been a family favorite. And hopefully, it they will become one of yours.

Apple Streusel Cake

Fresh McIntosh apples with a sweet crumble topping. Too good!

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Homemade Apple Sauce

It is so good and so easy to make, you will never buy apple sauce from a jar again.

Homemade Applesauce

And do not forget, there are other amazing apple recipes in Oma’s kitchen…

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Easy German Apple Cake Recipe

Try the Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce and the Sunken Apple Cake. They’re almost impossible to resist!

 

 

Oktoberfest Party Guide, Food, Beer, Music

Oktoberfest Party Guide. The ultimate guide to hosting a real Oktoberfest party in your backyard.

Oktoberfest Party Guide

Think Oktoberfest is all about beer? Think again. Just as important as those amazing Bavarian lagers are the authentic Oktoberfest dishes that make every Oktoberfest party so special. With good food and good drinks, come good times. And you will find everything you need to host a successful Oktoberfest beer garden festival in this quick Oktoberfest Party Guide! The best traditional recipes. The top-ten beers. And the greatest Oktoberfest playlist ever. It’s all here in this Oktoberfest  party guide. So, let’s get the party started!

Please scroll down to find all recipes, drinks and music

Oktoberfest Party Guide Decoration

Where it started

What started in Munich in the year of 1810, has spread across the world and is more popular today than ever. Traditionally, Oktoberfest starts in September and last until the beginning of October. The most famous Oktoberfest festival is in Munich at the Wiesn. Let’s recreate the magic of this fun-filled German beer fest celebration in a way that would make King Ludwig l proud.

Welcome your guests by decorating your home in blue and white—the traditional colors of the state of Bavaria. You can theme your surroundings with these Oktoberfest party suppliesincluding banners, table cloth, cups, napkins, and more. Keep your fine china in the cabinets and use simple and rustic seating and place settings. If the weather is accommodating, host your private beer festival outside in the garden. Maybe rent a tent for the backyard. Look for a picnic area, perhaps. Or, take it to the streets and get the whole neighborhood together for an Oktoberfest block party.

Most importantly, keep the Oktoberfest beer cold and music going. And don’t forget to launch the opening of your party with the official “O zapft is” cry—which refers to tapping of the first beer keg.

I wish you a wonderful Oktoberfest party with family and friends. And as always, let me know how it goes!

Yours,

Oma

 

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GERMAN OKTOBERFEST APPETIZERS:

Emmenthaler with Salt and Pepper

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Obatzda (spiced chess-butter-spread)

Obatzda Cheese Butter Spread

GERMAN OKTOBERFEST PARTY MAIN DISHES:

Typical Oktoberfest recipes that brings everyone to the table. So good. So flavorful. So German!

Pork Roast with Gravy

German Pork Roast Recipe

Bratwurst

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Sauerkraut

Frikadellen – German Meatball Patties

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GERMAN OKTOBERFEST PARTY SIDE DISHES:

There’s plenty of room on that plate. Complement your main dish with some of these old fashioned homemade side dishes.

Soft Pretzel

Homemade Pretzels

Mashed Potatoes

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Coleslaw

German Coleslaw Recipe

German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

GERMAN OKTOBERFEST PARTY DESSERT:

It’s not the end of the party – just the end of the course. A variety of apple cakes to choose from. Change the plate, go back to the table and load it up with one of the apple desserts to give your meal a satisfying finish.

Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce

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Sunken Apple Cake

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Apple Streusel Cake

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GERMAN AND GERMAN-INSPIRED OKTOBERFEST BEERS:

You don’t have to travel all the way to Munich to find a brewery that pairs well with your Oktoberfest celebration.

Here are Oma’s Top 10 Oktoberfest Beers

10 Best Oktoberfest Beers

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GERMAN OKTOBERFEST MUSIC:

No Oktoberfest Party is complete without the perfect soundtrack. From traditional to modern, folk to country, this 35-track German Oktoberfest playlist will get swaying and raising the glasses. Best of all, each track is linked to listen in. If you like it, you can download. Let’s celebrate! Just hit play.

35 Favorite Oktoberfest Songs

Halloween Traditions Food Recipes and Fun

Food. Fun. And Halloween Traditions. The spirit of Halloween is alive and well at Oma’s.

Halloween Traditions!

Halloween or Halloween Traditions. “What is it?” This is a question I had 29 years ago, when I first experienced this nightly celebration in the States. Of all the answers I received, the one I could identify with the most was the comparison to the peak of the German carnival season called Fasching (Mardi Gras). But that’s where the similarities ended.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31. Fasching starts on the 11th day of November at exactly 11 minutes after 11am and ends at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday—often called Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday in February.

During Halloween, kids go from house to house and say, “trick or treat.” During Fasching, the children go around the neighborhood and sing to get their goodies.

Carving pumpkins is one of the  Halloween traditions. Fodder beets? That’s a Fasching tradition!

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Once I understood all the differences, I was totally onboard. Especially when I realized that the evening of October 31st was also All Saints Eve, the same religious holiday in Germany that honors the souls of the departed.

Great. Got it. Time to make the costumes for the kids. I used felt by the yard and soaked some old white bed sheets in dye to have them in the colors my children liked. I got the old pattern out, which I still had from Germany.  I started to cut and sew the costumes to turn my children into “trick or treaters“.

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In our first year in the U.S., my  three children went trick or treating together (My fourth child was born three years later). A year later, they invited some of their new friends to trek the “Halloween Mile” with them. Two years after that, my home started filling with a few costumed guests. By the third Halloween, my kids had ALL their friends over at the house. They started dressing up and adding makeup right after school. Parents of those little devils would join later in the evening.

While the dads took their little ones around the neighborhood, the moms stayed behind and helped me disperse candy at the door. We called our group “H-TOT,” which stood for Halloween Trick or Treaters. We loved seeing all the costumes and we loved to eat. This called for my famous Split Pea Soupwhich became a yearly tradition, along with my All Saints Braid for dessert.

Split Pea Soup Recipe                     Sweet Braided Bread Allerheiligenzopf

Throughout the evening, adults would enjoy their meal with a few “spirits” while the kids had juice. The teenagers were fully caffeinated and congregated in the basement for their annual LAN Party full of big computer equipment and gaming fun.

Those were all great memories, but the image that I treasure most is a packed family room with children of all ages (some 11 years apart) sorting through their goodies. There was so much candy spread across the floor that you couldn’t even see the carpet. They traded, negotiated, divided, and shared until everyone got exactly what they wanted. It was impressive, to say the least.

Looking back, we created fun and memorable Halloween traditions that lasted 14 years. And now, my grandchildren have a lot of sweet things to look forward to themselves. Starting with my Halloween Cupcakes.

Halloween Cupcakes

What’s your favorite Halloween story or tradition?

St. Martin's Day Tradition

Shining a light on the meaning of St. Martin’s Day Tradition in Germany with lanterns and more!

St. Martin’s Day Tradition!

St. Martin of Tours was a soldier in the roman army. One winter, he was riding on his horse and saw a beggar freezing on the side of the street. Martin took off his coat and divided it with his sword into two pieces to share with the poor man. In that night, so the legend goes, a man appeared in Martin’s dream and Martin recognized him as Jesus—wearing the other half of the coat he gave to the beggar. Martin felt compelled to quit the army, get baptized, and later became a bishop. After his death, he was declared holy by the Pope and was canonized the patron saint of the poor and the soldiers. St. Martin’s Day tradition is celebrated every year in November.

Even though St. Martin died on the 8th of November 397, the Germans and some other European countries celebrate St. Martin’s every year on November 11tth, the date of his funeral. After sunset, children walk with their homemade, candle-lit lanterns on a stick through the streets following a man dressed as St. Martin on the horse. The walk usually ends at a bonfire, where the depiction of St. Martin cutting and sharing his coat comes alive.

Saint Martin’s Day Food

The Martin’s Goose is another St. Martin’s Day tradition. It’s also known as the Martinsgansessen a St. Martin’s Feast. Butchered the night before St. Martin’s Day, the goose is usually stuffed with apples, prunes, bread; and seasoned with herbs and spices. Depending on the region, bakeries offer edible Martin Men with little pipes in their mouths. They are a treat made from yeast dough.

In the links below, I’ll show you how to roast a Martin’s Goose, how to bake the Martin Men, and how to make the paper lanterns. I’ve always enjoyed celebrating the St. Martin’s Day tradition when my children were young. It’s another great memory worth keeping alive—and sharing.

Yours, Oma

Martin’s Goose – Martinsgans

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Martin’s Men – Weckmänner, Stutenkerle

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Lanterns – Laterne

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Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes. Thanksgiving Traditions and Tips you’ll be truly thankful for.

Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

When I arrived in America, twenty-nine years ago, I didn’t know much about Thanksgiving or a meal prepared with traditional Thanksgiving recipes. Long before the days of Google, I looked up the translation of Thanksgiving the old fashion way, and understood it as a “thank you” but didn’t really know much about who gave and who received. I found a comparison to Erntedankfest—a religious harvest celebration in Germany which takes place in October.

Throughout the years, I’ve learned that this special American holiday dates back to 1620 when the Pilgrims from England arrived on the Mayflower and landed on Plymouth Rock—about 40 miles away from Boston, Massachusetts. They met the Wampanoag Indians, and with their help, learned to survive their first cold Winter. A year later, in 1621, the success of the harvest led to a three-day festivity called Thanksgiving, which they celebrated together.

Two hundred years later, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. So, the fourth Thursday in November it is! Lincoln also made the “Big Bird” the main meal for Thanksgiving. And today, the turkey tradition continues all across this great country.

Every year, I cherish Thanksgiving and honor the tradition and true meaning of this very special holiday. It’s really about family and friends coming together to share a meal prepared with traditional Thanksgiving recipes—and appreciating all that they have in their lives. Although it’s not a religious holiday, people are thankful in their prayers, in their words, and in their actions, for the food (the harvest) for which they are about to share. In the end, it doesn’t matter the time or day, what heritage or what culture, all that matters is that we live in the moment—conscious and thankful of our good fortune—surrounded by those we love.

Scroll down to the traditional Thanksgiving recipes.

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Oma’s Favorite Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes to celebrate:

Butternut Squash Soup

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Pickled Sweet and Sour Butternut Squash

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Homemade Corn Bread

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Sweet Potatoes with Apples in Maple Syrup

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Stuffed Thanksgiving Turkey

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Green Beans with Mushrooms and Corn

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Cinnamon Pears Topped with Cranberry Sauce

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Danube Waves Cake

Danube Wave Cake Recipe

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

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Fruit-Filled Shortbread Cookies

German Butter Cookies Recipe

Your Thanksgiving planning. It starts now.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, you know there’s a lot to do. The more you can prepare ahead of time, the more time you have to enjoy with your family. So, on that note, here are some time-saving tips that are sure to pay dividends when loved ones start filing up around your kitchen.

1. Figure how many guest you will have.

2. Write down which traditional Thanksgiving recipes you want to try and write down the ingredients you’ll need.

3. Make a list and go shopping.

4. Start baking/cooking what can easily be stored ahead of time. Think freezer, refrigerator, and even tin boxes. Some recipes can be completed and stored. Others can be started and brought out at the last minute for quick touch up before serving.

Making a Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes Shortcuts.

Having made all my recommendations for the traditional Thanksgiving recipes, I know some are more time consuming and labor intensive than others. Nevertheless, they’re all worth it. Especially when your guests ask for seconds. And you have these secrets up your sleeve.

Green beans with Mushrooms and corn | Complete and freeze. Microwave when ready.

Butternut Squash Soup | Freezes nicely. Just add fresh whipped cream and home-made croutons before serving.

Pickled Sweet & Sour Butternut Squash | Complete ahead of time and refrigerate. The marinade makes it taste even better with time.

Cinnamon Pears Topped with Cranberry Sauce | Refrigerate pears with the water you cooked them in. The cranberry sauce can be kept covered and refrigerated. Or, in a pinch, use canned fruit and prepare on Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving Cupcakes | Prepare. Decorate. And freeze. When ready, thaw and serve.

Danube Waves Cake | Freezes and thaws just fine. Just add the final decorations before presentation.

Fruit-Filled Shortbread Cookies | Stores well in a tin box. However, this is a great recipe to make with children. Have them assist you while you share the story of the pilgrims and Indians. Make it a great memory and a yearly tradition.

Turkey Stuffing | If you wish to add turkey liver to your recipe, you won’t be able to get to it until your frozen turkey is thawed. Try store-bought chicken liver and make your stuffing ahead of time and freeze.

Serving Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

If you take advantage of these recommendations, you’ll be way ahead of schedule. All that’s left to do on Thanksgiving is make the sweet potatoes, fix the turkey, and set the table with the good stuff—your fine china and silver. And don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities. In my house, my daughter-in-law cleans the silver and prepares the sweet potatoes, and my oldest son is in charge of the bird. All the other work is divided amongst the family. And as far as I’m concerned, my work is done. With smart planning, I get to enjoy more time with my grandchildren. And for that I’m thankful.

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Thanksgiving decoration ideas. Simple but beautiful.

Carved potatoes and apples with tea light candles inside. Click for instructions.

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At Oma’s, you always save room for dessert.

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Wine is fine. Cider is finer.

I love wine. Especially the reds. However, if you want to mix things up for  Thanksgiving, why not offer hard apple cider instead of the traditional white wines that usually accompany poultry. Here are three of my favorites: Woodchuck, Johnny Appleseed, and Cidre by Stella Artois. Most are available locally. Serve cold and enjoy!

BONUS: Click for Oma’s favorite white wines and martzen-style beers for fall and winter.

German After-Dinner Drinks:

Berentzen Apple Corn (serve cold) & Jaegermeister (serve extra chilled)

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A Fun Thanksgiving Activity: Create a Matchbox Advent Calendar.

With advent starting on Sunday, November 29th this year (and ending on Thursday, December 24th), Thanksgiving is the perfect time to keep the kids (and some adults) busy with a project they’ll love to hang on the wall. This advent calendar, made from empty matchboxes, is great countdown to Christmas. Click here for instructions.

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 Happy Thanksgiving 2018

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With many blessings, your Oma

German American Thanksgiving

German American Thanksgiving. Add these delicious popular German recipes to your Thanksgiving menu.

German American Thanksgiving

German American Thanksgiving in Oma’s house. Give your traditional Thanksgiving meal this year an Oma twist while adding or combining the following recipes. I picked Classic German Recipes which I was taught by my mother, and she was taught by her mother. A traditional German menu for holidays, celebrations and festivities. Try it out.

Instead of turkey, consider a beef roast with gravy. Replace stuffing or mashed potatoes with my dumplings. And try substituting green beans with red cabbage. Of course, Thanksgiving purest would never deviate from the traditional menu. That’s why these recipes—including my tomato soup with freshly baked baguette—also make great additions!

In my family, I keep everyone deliciously guessing. Some years it’s the bird. Others it’s the roast. And sometimes, depending on the number of guests, it’s both! Mixing and matching the traditional American feast with my “Germerican” alternatives keeps everyone happy and well fed. Pumpkin pie? Sure. But add my black forest cake plus Red Berry Compote with Vanilla Sauce, and it’s sure to be a Thanksgiving no one will forget.

Regardless of what menu you put together, Thanksgiving is all about getting together with family and being grateful for what we have. It’s in this spirit that I wish you and your loved ones a very blessed holiday. And hope you enjoy these tasty alternatives. As always, let me know what you think.

Yours, Oma

PS: For my traditional Thanksgiving menu, click here. (You’ll also find short cuts, holiday traditions, and unique table decorations.)

Mix and match Oma’s Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes with Classic German recipes.

German American Thanksgiving dishes:

Tomato Soup

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Baguette

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German Yeast Dumplings

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Red Cabbage

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Beef Roast with Gravy

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Red Berry Compote with Vanilla sauce

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Black Forest Cake

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German Christmas Celebration

German Christmas Celebrations and Traditions for all to enjoy.

German Christmas Celebrations

German Christmas celebrations start with the first of Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas) and ends on December 26th, which is the second Holiday of Christmas. In between, are different traditional celebrations and activities with deeper meanings beyond shopping sprees and gift giving. It is called “Vorweihnachtszeit” which means “The Pre-Season.” The first cookies are served prepared with my mother’s Traditional German Christmas Cookies Recipes.

German Christmas Celebrations Table Decorations

Highlight of the German Christmas Celebrations

The highlight is Christmas Eve on December 24th, when the “Christkind” comes and brings the presents. The Christkind is a sprite-like angel of sorts, and as children we always were told that we can not see it—and shouldn’t even try—otherwise this special gift-giver wouldn’t bring presents. I pictured the Christkind always as a curly blond-haired figure with wings and a simple white dress with gold borders. In my mind, I could imagine seeing it fly past the window with all the presents in hand. I’m sure I wasn’t the only child with this magical image in my head.

The Christmas tree, which was decorated by my parents on Christmas Eve, was always a big surprise. The tree was set up in the “good stubb” (or front room) and under no circumstance were we allowed to take a peek behind those closed doors. The unveiling was pure magic. Upon entering, the only light in this festive room was from the lit wax candles on the tree. I remember there was a bell hanging on a branch that played Silent Night. Aside from all the presents under the tree, it was clear Christkind had been there. You could just feel it. To me the Christmas Tree always has been the most important part of the German Christmas traditions.

German Christmas Celebrations - Christmas Decoration

While the children unwrapped presents, my mother prepared the food—always potato salad, some sausages, and bread—a tradition I still keep today. Later on, the Christmas feast consisted of roasted Goose, some red cabbage, and dumplings. I never really liked eating goose, but I did enjoy the goose fat. When the drippings hardened, I would spread it on bread seasoned with salt and pepper.

I hope you have as many wonderful memories of Christmas as I did. _Oma

It’s beginning to look a lot like Weihnachten.

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Countdown To Christmas:

The German Christmas Traditions start with the Advent Calendar and Advent Wreath

Advents Wreath German Christmas Celebrations

December is a month when I needed to do some concentrated planning to keep up with all the German Christmas celebrations.The advent calendar would countdown the days to Christmas—and the advent wreath would countdown the weeks. Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, a candle would be lit. Each Sunday thereafter, one more candle would be lit until all four were illuminated. Both the calendar and the wreath were special treats for my kids.

Create your own holiday tradition. Here’s how to build an advent calendar out of empty matchboxes. Your children will love it! Click here for instructions.

Branch Out on St. Barbara’s Day (December 4th)

Barbarazweig—Barbara’s Branch is also part of the German Christmas Celebrations

German Christmas Celebrations Barbara Branches

Here’s one more of the great German Christmas traditions. On the 4th of December, the feast day of St. Barbara, I cut branches from my cherry tree and put them in water so that they bloom on the 25th of December. I always place tags on the various branches with the names of all the members of the family. The name of the person attached to the first blooming twig will have luck in the following year.

NOTE: If you can’t get a cherry branches, try substituting the shoots of some other blossoming tree or plant. Try: apple, plum, lilac, or forsythia and celebrate Barbarazweig in your own special way.

So who was this Saint Barbara? Legend has it, she was young lady who lived around 300 A.D. in Asia Minor (which is today known as Turkey). Barbara was held in a tower by her pagan father to secure her innocence while he was away. While imprisoned, she converted to Christianity. Not willing to give up her new faith, her father planned her execution. While waiting for her demise, Barbara watered the twig from a cherry branch that grew outside her cell window. She watered it every day. Twenty one days after poor Babara’s beheading, the twig started to bloom. As for her horrible father, well, he was struck dead by lightning immediately after the execution. No wonder some believers pray to St. Barbara during a thunderstorm.

Old Saint Nick? Not quite. It’s December 6th. Time for Nikolaus!

German Christmas Celebrations St. Nikolaus

Sankt Nikolaus – der heilige Nikolaus

Get ready for one of the German Christmas celebrations with Nikolaus. On the 6th of December, Nikolaustag,  Nikolaus is coming. And German children couldn’t be more excited.

Nikolaus is accompanied by his helper, Knecht Ruprecht. Nikolaus is dressed in red and his sidekick wears brown. Don’t confuse Nikolaus with the other guy in red. Santa and him are two different people with two different stories.

Now, back to the kids. In the evening of the 5th, the children leave their freshly cleaned boots outside the front door. The next morning, amazingly, their boots will be filled with chocolate, goodies, oranges, mandarins, and nuts. Sometimes, Nikolaus will even pay a visit to the families and read out of his big black book.

German Christmas Celebrations Boots

Throughout Europe, and even in various regions in Germany, there are many Saint Nicks (Sankt Nikolaus or der heilige Nikolaus), which one are you familiar with and what are those traditions? I’d love to know and share those stories.

German Gingerbread the real one. A gift that’s always in good taste.

The original gingerbread also adds to the German Christmas traditions. Even though my children and grandchildren are far away, I still keep the Nikolaus tradition alive and well. Each year, I send a Nikolaus bag filled with goodies for the little ones. And for the bigger ones, I order from a variety of authentic gingerbreads from Germany. Sure, it’s not the same as filling up boots but as they say, it’s the spirit that counts! These gingerbreads are beautifully presented in a historical-themed tin box—making a great gift for family and friends.

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Merry Christmas to you and yours. Blessings, Oma

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New Year's Eve

These New Year’s Eve recipes, prophecies, and celebrations are a total blast.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is celebrated differently the world over. While New York City is counting down in Time Square and watching the ball drop, the people of Germany are filling the streets and setting off fireworks to the sound of the local church bells. This takes place at midnight in every village, town, and big city throughout the country. The clanging bells and booming rockets are a great way to say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new. Not to mention, the lights and noises are very effective in chasing away all the bad spirits!

WATCH THE FIREWORKS ON THE STREETS OF FRANKFURT

New Year’s Eve in Germany is called Silvester and is always accompanied with good food and drink throughout the long night. (See recipes below.) While some are partying in the streets, others might be celebrating quietly at home—playing games and watching “Dinner for One” on TV. This English sketch comedy show has become a New Year’s tradition since the early seventies. Have a look.

WATCH A CLIP FROM THE COMEDY “DINNER FOR ONE”

For many years, I’ve missed the thrill and excitement of watching fireworks in late December. One year, a few days after Christmas and before New Year’s Eve, I heard a surprising “BOOM!” in my backyard. When I opened the door to the deck, I saw a firework display in our garden. Sparkles of light shot in all directions and the stars from the rockets shined over our house.I was confused and delighted—all at the same time. It was my teenage son, with the help of a kind neighbor, who set up the choreographed light show for my birthday. What great memory! It made up for all the years that I missed the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. And to this day, I still consider it the most beautiful fireworks display I have ever seen.

Einen Guten Rutsch und Prosit Neujahr.

Happy New Year and best wishes to all. _Oma

Let’s eat!

Scroll down to find the recipes

Whether you’re throwing a big party or attending a small gathering, the right dish for the occasion can make all the difference. This New Year’s Eve try one of these great recipes: Shrimp Dip, Marinated Herring, Midnight Soup, Gentlemen’s Layer Cake, and Jam-Filled Sweet Rolls. Click and enjoy!

Click the links for recipes

Shrimp Dip

Shrimp Dip for New Years Eve

Marinated Herring

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Midnight Soup

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Jam-Filled Sweet Rolls

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Gentlemen’s Layer Cake

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Lentil Soup

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Let’s drink! It’s New Year’s Eve!

Fire Tongs Punch (Krambambula) – Feuerzangenbowle (Krambambuli)

Traditional New Years Eve punch

No New Year’s Eve celebration is complete without Fire Tongs Punch. The popularity of this warm, sweet wine punch skyrocketed after the release of its namesake, the 1944 German film Die Feuerzangenbowle. Both are cult classics and a must have on New Year’s Eve. 

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Apple Punch

Apple Punch for New Years Eve

Eggnog

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Master of Hunters – Jägermeister

Jägermeister used to be a job title: Master of Hunters. Today, it is better known as an herbal liqueur. Jägermeister was regarded more as a drink for older people—which was used to help digest after a heavy meal. Around 2004, the green bottle was rediscovered by younger adults and became hip in certain circles. It is best served ice cold—which means it needs to be chilled right around the freezing point. Look for the head of a buck on the label (that’s how you know you have a real bottle) and present your Jaegermeister to your New Year’s guests in tubes on a special rack. C’mon, how hip is that? Cheers!

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Feeling lucky?

Click the links to find out more

This new year, good fortune is sure to pour your way. Discover “Bleigiessen,” a fun German tradition of pouring melted lead into cold water to predict the future. Oh, and do have a Gluecksbringer? Not sure? Well, you’re in luck. There are plenty here. You’ll be charmed, I’m sure. _Oma

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Celebrate New Years Eve

(Picture taken by Thomas Dornfeld)

Einen Guten Rutsch und Prosit Neujahr. _Oma