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-eight 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 which 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:

Click titles for traditional Thanksgiving recipes. Click photos to enlarge.

Butternut Squash Soup

Pumpkin Soup 12

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 2015

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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 special short cuts, holiday traditions, and unique table decorations.)

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

(Click titles for recipes. Click photos to enlarge.)

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.”

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

 

 

 

 

New Year's Luck Traditions

This new year, watch luck come pouring in all shapes, sizes, and meanings.

New Year’s Luck Traditions

The last Day of the year in Germany is celebrated with New Year’s Luck Traditions. When the clock strikes midnight, it’s a brand new year. Fireworks color the sky and people fill the streets. Yes, New Year’s in Germany is quite a celebration. After the echoes of the church bells have subsided, people return home for “Bleigiessen.” (AKA: Lead pouring for prophecy and prediction.) Over a burning candle, a small amount of lead is melted in a spoon. When the metal liquifies, it is poured into a bowl of cold water and immediately a shape is formed.

How these shapes are interpreted will determine the future, so the story goes. Go ahead, hold it up to the light with a fork or tweezers. What does its shadow reveal? An island means a dream will come true. A heart stands for happiness, health, and peace. A nest? That represents luck within the family. Curious to know all various shapes and meanings? Good luck to you. Click here.

(If you have concerns using the lead, you always could substitute it with solder or candle wax. Works as good!)

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German good luck charms – Glücksbringer

Melting lead doesn’t reveal the entire future. And who couldn’t use a little extra luck on their side? That’s where the Gluecksbringer comes in. These good luck charms are popular in Germany—and some are recognized the world over.

Four-Leaf Clover:

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Legend has it, Eve took a four-leaf clover out of the Garden of Eden. If you ever find one, congrats! You just got a little piece of paradise.

Lady Bugs:

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These little messengers from heaven are said to protect children and the sick. Catch one if you can!

Horseshoe:

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A symbol of prosperity and health. Always hang your horseshoe, so that it hangs like a “U” so that luck can fall in. If you hang it upside down, you’re good fortune will fall out.

Pig:

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Who knew this farm animal was a symbol of fertility and strength? The Germans did! They even have the expression, “You had a pig,” which means, “That’s a stroke of luck.”

Penny:

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We’re all familiar with the lucky penny. If you find one, it’s supposed to bring good luck. This symbol of wealth also comes with a German expression, “If you don’t respect the penny, then you’re not worth the thaler.” (A thaler is a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost 400 years.)

Chimney Sweeper:

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Seeing or coming in contact with a chimney sweeper is considered good luck. Back in the day, without electricity or gas, the men in the top hats were responsible for helping to keep those old fashioned ovens running so that meals could be prepared.

Odin

Wotan / Odin

 You have 364 days to wash your clothes. (Just don’t do it on New Year’s Eve!)

As the story goes, Wotan (or Odin) a major deity in Germanic and Nordic mythology, rides with his cohorts on the night of New Year’s Eve and nothing upsets the gods like getting caught up in your hanging laundry. So clear those clothing lines and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be blessed with good fortune for the rest of the year.

You might like the one or the other of the German New Year’s luck Traditions. Add the right food to the table and find here traditional recipes for your party on New Year’s Eve.

 

Valentine's Day Celebration

Valentine’s Day Celebration – Create a meal your special someone will love.

Valentine’s Day Celebration with recipes for appetizer, cakes and a meal.

Valentine’s Day celebration means flowers and chocolate, chocolate and flowers! Those are the traditional signs that Valentine’s Day is here. February 14th is Valentine’s Day Celebration the world over in many different ways, but the long-stem red roses, frilly greeting cards, and heart-shaped candy boxes are unmistakable. So is that mischievous little cupid—shooting arrows of affection in the hearts of couples both young and old.

The commercialization of this amorous holiday started when American soldiers brought it back to states after World War II. It had long been a European tradition, dating way back to the middle ages.

What’s important now days, despite all the decorative and advertorial reminders, is that we take the time to show our loved ones just how much we care. Time goes by so quickly and those moments are often lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. So, go ahead. Get the typical flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, and other gifts. But try something new this year. Maybe cook something at home instead of going out. It’s that little extra effort will truly make them feel special.

Here are some simple recipes for a Valentine’s Day Celebration you both will love:

Appetizer: Melon with Prosciutto and Salami

Melon Prosciutto Salami Appetizer

Entree: Ham Noodles Casserole

Ham Noodle Casserole Recipe

Side Dish: Chinese Cabbage Salad

Chinese Cabbage Salad Recipe

Dessert 1: Linzer Cake

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Dessert 2: Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Dessert 3: Egg Liqueur Cake

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Enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day, Oma

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German Karneval Mardi Gras

German Karneval Mardi Gras. The food, the fun, the Fasching! Helau and Alaaf!

German Karneval Mardi Gras and recipes to celebrate

When the German Karneval Mardi Gras season starts

German Karneval Mardi Gras or Carnival (Karneval) goes by a lot of different names: Fasching, Fastnacht, and Fassenacht. But it all means one thing… fun! Germans consider this time “the fifth season” of the year, and it starts on November 11, or specifically, on 11.11 at 11:11 am. The festivity will reach its peak the following year with a six-day celebration that ends before Ash Wednesday (February 10). That’s right; it’s the last days of eating, drinking, and merriment before the start of Lent.

The carnival season has its strongholds in Germany’s Rhineland, Rhinish Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Franconia, Lusatia and Baden-Württemberg, but is celebrated in other regions, as well.

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During the event, a prince or a royal couple (Prinzenpaar) governs Karneval with the support of the Elferrat – an eleven-member council of the kingdom of fools and includes their royal retinue.

German Karneval Mardi Gras Elferrat

Peak of German Karneval Mardi Gras

The Fasching ritual starts on Fat Thursday (fetter or schmotziger Donnerstag). This is not to be confused with Fat Tuesday in the states. The Fat Thursday is an unofficial holiday that celebrates the Weiberfastnacht—the celebration of women. The fun starts at 11:11 am, when the ladies take over town hall and the mayor symbolically hands over the key to the city. From here on out, the women rule. So men, be careful out there. A lovely lady has the right to cut off your tie. In return, you may get a kiss—or two, if you’re lucky.

German Karneval Mardi Gras Taking over Town Hall

The party continues on Sooty Friday (Ruβiger Freitag). In the evening, the main TV stations broadcast the carnival proceedings under the direction of the Elferrat. This four-hour show is filled with dances, sketches, and speeches from a soap box. In front of this platform, you’ll find usually the traditional Till Eulenspiegel—a character that’s your typical joker. 

German Karneval Mardi Gras Speeches

Throughout the evening, the performances are very professional and include dancers (Tanzmariechen) who, at a very young age, already mastered the sophisticated dance moves and impressive leg kicks.

Click pictures to enlarge.

German Karneval Mardi Gras Show Dancing

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Schmaltzy Saturday (Schmalziger Samstag or Nelken Samstag) is the quiet before the storm. It starts with little parades throughout smaller cities on Sunday (Kappes or Tulpen Sonntag) —leading to larger parades on Rosenmontag in much bigger cities like Mainz, Duesseldorf, and Cologne. On Shrove Monday (Rosenmontag), TV stations broadcast the parades that are full of revelry, marching, satirical floats, and all-around amusement. Spectators leave extra early to secure places in the front rows to catch all the action.

Click pictures to enlarge.

German Karneval Mardi Gras Spectators

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In the crowd, spectators are prepared with bags to collect goodies tossed to them by the parade participants. When the head of the parade arrives, everybody knows to throw their arms up to greet the groups with a loud and clear “HELAU!” or “ALAAF!” These enthusiastic greetings differ depending on the region. The parades are very diverse with a variety of cultural backgrounds represented. It is truly a unified festival for all to enjoy.

Click pictures to enlarge.

German Karneval Mardi Gras "Helau"

German Karneval Mardi Gras Parade  Afrika  Mexikaner

The height of Mardi Gras is on Shrove Tuesday (fetter Dienstag or Veilchendienstag—Fat Tuesday in America). Traditionally, the day ends with masquerade ball (Lumpenball). At midnight, the people attending the dance remove their masks and reveal their true identities. In some regions, they even burn a straw doll which, conveniently, removes any sins committed during the carnival season.

All rituals and festivities are accompanied by traditional music that is well-known by every generation. Click on the link below to learn more and have a listen.

The ultimate playlist for Mardis Gras. 44 great carnival songs!

German Karneval Mardi Gras Music

During carnival, Germans typically enjoy two kinds of food: spicy or sweet. Click on the links below to discover my traditional Mardi Gras recipes.

Helau and Alaaf! Yours, Oma

Special thank you to photographer Mattias Kehrein for sharing with me his wonderful Mardi Gras celebration photos. All rights reserved.

Oma’s traditional German Recipes for German Karneval Mardi Gras:

Goulash soup with venison or beef – Gulaschsuppe mit Wild

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German Meatloaf (False Hare)—German Hackbraten (Falscher Hase)

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Potato Soup – Kartoffelsuppe

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Skewered Curry Meatballs (Curry Hackfleischbällchen Igel)

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Confetti dip – Konfetti Dip

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Waldorf salad – Waldorfsalat

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Apple and Onion Pork-Lard Spread (Schweineschmalz mit Äpfeln und Zwiebeln)

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German Donuts (Fastnachtskrapfen, Fasnachtsküchle, Kreppel, Kräppel, Berliner)

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Red-Wine Cake and Red-Wine Cupcakes – Rotweinkuchen und Rotweincupcakes

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Black and white cookies with M&M’s – Amerikaner

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St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day! A German look at the Irish. See what the Irish have in common.

St. Patrick’s Day

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches on March 17, I can’t help but think how close the Irish are in respect to the Germans. Not so much in physical distance, but in so many other interesting ways.

For starters, just like the Germans, the Irish are proud people who are protective of their heritage. Both aren’t afraid to show how deeply they care about their families and their communities. Some would even say their openness is as apparent as their stubbornness. Add their favorite adult beverage of choice—beer—and my previous statement is even more magnified. And what goes great with a pint or stein? Cabbage and potatoes. Both are traditional favorites.

In each country, horseshoes and four-leaf clovers are recognized symbols of luck. And finally, in the mid-nineteenth century, America welcomed both Irish and German immigrants—along with their unique culture and traditions. The fabric of this great country was sewn together by hard working Europeans whose only wish was to create a better life themselves and their families. And for that reason alone, I say “sláinte” (cheers) and “Happy St. Patrick’s Day.” Let’s celebrate with good food and drink. This post is a tribute to the Irish—The Oma Way.

Let’s Eat!

Brisket with Cabbage and Potatoes (Krauteintopf mit Tafelspitz)

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Shepherd’s Pie (Auflauf mit Hackfleisch und Kartoffelbrei)

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Angel Cake with Irish Cream Liqueur

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Let’s Drink!

Irish Coffe

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Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons of Irish whiskey
  • 60 g (3 oz) of brown sugar
  • 1000 ml (34 oz) fresh, strong black coffee
  • 236 ml (8 oz) of whipped cream
  • 1 package of Dr. Oetker Whip It

Preparation:

Mix whiskey with sugar. Add hot coffee to it and stir. Beat whipping cream mixed with Dr. Oetker “whip it” until stiff. Fill the coffee in fire resistant glasses till under the rim. Use either two teaspoons or a decoration bag with a star tip to have the whipped cream on top of it. 

Irish Beer

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Perhaps the most well known Irish beers are GUINNESS (a dry, dark stout) and HARP (a light-colored lager). When you carefully pour the two beers together, you have what’s known as a half and half. Here’s how to make it: WATCH VIDEO

Obviously, If you’re going to add little Irish spirit to your beer—green food coloring—go with the Harp. Both beers are available at your local beer store.

Irish Whiskey

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BUSHMILLS is one of the oldest known whiskeys in the world—established in 1608. It’s distillery is located in Antrim County in Northern Ireland.

JAMESON is a blended Irish Whiskey made in Ireland’s capital city—Dublin. Established in 1780, it’s more than a hundred years younger than Bushmills.

As far as balance, taste, and smoothness, I take my hat of to the both of them. Literally.

Wishing everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day with plenty of slàinte agus tàinte (health and wealth) and extra craic (fun). _Oma

 

 

 

German Easter Traditions

German Easter Traditions! See why Americans are hopping to these German-themed recipes, gift ideas, and traditions.

German Easter Traditions in America

In Germany, Easter is a holiday that is as highly regarded as Christmas. The German Easter traditions start on the Good Friday and end with the Second Easter Holiday, which is the Monday after Easter Sunday. In some regions in Germany, it starts already on the Thursday before Easter. It’s a long weekend and most of the businesses, banks, schools, and government offices are closed. Easter marks the beginning of spring, and I always associate it with a phrase from the Osterspaziergang (Outside of the Gate) better known in English as the “Easter Walk” by the great German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe where he says:

“Zufrieden jauchzet Gross und Klein: Hier bin ich Mensch, hier darf ich’s sein!”

“Contented, great and small shout joyfully, here I am Man, here dare it to be!”

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Did you know, that the Americans adopted the bunny from the Germans as one of their Easter traditions?

The Easter bunny was first introduced to America by German immigrants in the 1700s. To learn more about the egg-laying hare, these Pennsylvania Dutch settlers called “Oschter Haws,” click here.

Easter bunny German tradition      Easter decor German tradition      Easter decorations

The Easter traditions are structured and start on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. Good Friday is a very quiet day—and the parents always made sure of it. No loud noises, or raised voices, and definitely no fighting. On this day, my mother prepared the cakes and food for the Easter weekend. The Good Friday meal consisted of creamed spinach, potatoes cooked in salt water, and scrambled eggs. It’s a tradition I still keep today and share with my family and friends year after year. (See recipe below.) The eggs we eat are blown out after pricking a hole with a needle on top and bottom. The shells are painted and decorated by the children. Afterward, we would hang them on budding branches—either forsythia, cherry tree, willow tree, or pussy willow. 

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We always color the hard-boiled eggs on Saturday. The Sunday morning breakfast starts with the Easter Wreath—a decorated cake-like bread. (Recipe below.) After breakfast, the parents hide the eggs outside. Once all the eggs have been found, children visit their godfathers and godmothers—where Easter baskets await them filled with goodies that include chocolates, fruit gums, more colored eggs, and the ever-present chocolate bunny. The godparents in Germany are very important in children’s lives, and in most of the families, are also involved in helping to raise them the right way. In the emotional hierarchy, the godmother comes right after the mother and grandmother. This certainly was very true for my godmother and me. For sure, she had a lot of influence in helping to create the person I am today.

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For Easter dinner, my mother always prepared rabbit with salad and dumplings. I just couldn’t eat the poor thing. Especially since I played during the week with him—feeding him clovers and dandelion. The thought of eating my friend didn’t sit well with me at all. Well, at least the salad and dumplings were good.

One of the Easter traditions I liked very much were the get-together later in the afternoon. The whole family went for their Osterspaziergang “Easter Walk” to the designated place in town to meet most of the neighbors and extended families.

Games German Easter Traditions

While the grown-ups had their serious talk, the children kept busy outside with fun and games like the egg-and-spoon race, the sack race, and the egg toss.

Whereas the Christmas holidays are always filled with excitement and joyful anticipation, the Easter holidays with it’s Easter traditions are usually more low- key, and the children by instinct understand the difference in the atmosphere.

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Let’s eat!

Click the links for Oma’s recipes.

German Easter Traditions Meal

Spinach, Potatoes, and Scrambled Eggs – Spinat, Kartoffel und Rühreier

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Roast Lamb – Boneless Lamb Leg

Roast Lamb Recipe

German Meatloaf – Falscher Hase

German Meatloaf - Falscher Hase

Easter Wreath – Osterkranz

Easter Wreath Bread

Lamb Cake – Lammkuchen

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Easter Cake – Ostertorte

Homemade Easter Cake

Chocolate-Covered Cupcakes (Peter Rabbit) – Cupcakes mit Schokoladenguβ (Peter der Hase)

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Cheese Cake – Käsesahne

German Cheese Cake Recipe

German Fried Egg Cake – Spiegeleierkuchen

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Lemon Cake Roll – Zitronenrolle

Lemon Cake Roll Recipe

No Easter is complete without Peter Rabbit.

Fill your Easter basket with the classic tales by Beatrix Potter. Click here for my thoughts on this furry family of critters, plus where to find the most amazing assortment of Peter Rabbit collectibles. They’re sure to make a great Easter gift for the little hoppers in your family.

Easter Bunny Peter Rabbit           DSC_1965           DSC_1969

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German May Day Traditions

German May Day Traditions. Fun and interesting facts about the First of May in Germany.

German May Day Traditions

Facts about German May Day Traditions. It’s May Day as the German saying goes, “Alles neu macht der Mai,” which translated means, “May makes everything new.” The first of May is also known as May Day—not to be confused with the SOS emergency call mayday,” which derives from the French “m’aidez” pronounced “mayDAY,” and means “help me.” 

German May Day Traditions – Witches Night (Walpurgisnacht) 

German May Day traditions start the night before the first day of May. The Germans along with some other European countries celebrate the birthday of nature. The trees come into leaf, and the flowers in the garden start blooming.

A lot of traditional activities are underway and start the day prior. The night of April 30th is the Walpurgisnacht, also called the Hexennacht, meaning “Witches Night.” Legend has it that the witches met every year on the night of the 30th April on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains in Germany to meet with the Satan on their Sabbath.

German May Day Traditions – The Maypole (Maibaum)

On May 1, the Maibaum (May Tree or Maypole), which was cut down in March, will be raised to welcome spring. All branches are removed and cleared so that only the trunk of the log is left and used as the pole for decorating with garlands of fir and colorful ribbons, carved figures, and flowers. The tree is normally a birch because it’s known as the tree of new beginnings. It’s carried through the village, accompanied by music under the watchful eyes of neighborhood spectators. Before raised, the Maypole can be stolen by mischievous neighboring villages. If successfully stolen, the town has to pay for its return with a case of wine or beer. (Photo of Maypole Thomas Dornfeld)

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German May Day Traditions – The May Dance (Tanz in den Mai)

The May Dance takes place on the evening of the Walpurgisnacht. Traditionally, the dance happens around a big bonfire to scare away the eval ghosts and evil spirits with loud noises.

German May Day Traditions May Dance

When the fire is almost out, young lovers will often jump hand in hand over the burning embers. This unique custom is called “Maisprung” (May jump).

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While being served local culinary specialties during the May Dance, the most typical drink is the May Wine Punch (Maibowle). The Maibowle is a delicious mix of a dry white wine (Chardonnay or Riesling is preferred), and dry champagne flavored with fresh sweet woodruff (Waldmeister or Maikraut) and served chilled. A good substitute for the fresh cut woodruff is woodruff syrup. (Scroll down to find some recipes made with sweet woodruff).

Sweet Woodruff Plant                     

Sweet woodruff plants and flower

The flowers of the month of May are the dog-rose or Rosa Canina (it resembles the dog tree but is softer and more of a bush) and the lily of the valley, which in Germany is called the Maigloeckchen (little May Bell). It is a symbol of purity—bringing luck in love and the return of happiness.

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Lily of the valley flowers

The above symbols are all good reasons why the lily of the valley is used for weddings, Mother’s Day, and confirmations—which all take place in May. One of the traditional German presents for confirmation is a religious songbook bound in leather with the date and name embossed in gold.

IMG_4073   Konfirmation Yvonne

Confirmation greeting card and religious songbook showing a hymn about May                         Oma’s confirmation May 1970

Labor Day (Maifeiertag)

The first of May, May Day is also celebrated as the Labor Day in many countries, including Germany. While some are celebrating the traditional welcoming of spring, others are busy supporting the movements of the workers.  The date was inspired by an event that took place in Chicago in May of 1886, called the Haymarket affair—also known as the Haymarket massacre or Haymarket riot. This labor demonstration ended up in violence with some unfortunate deaths. The strikers were fighting for better working conditions and an eight-hour work day.

ThomasDornfeld 12-1972

In most countries, the May Day, first of May is an International Labor Day, recognized and observed as a holiday. As in the past, each year worldwide rallies, marches, and demonstrations take place supported by unions or parties—asking people to stand up for better work situations and conditions, along with safer work environments and more job securities—all in an attempt to create a brighter future for their families.

German May Day Traditions Labor Day

(Pictures of May March by Thomas Dornfeld, May1, 1072, Berlin Germany)

Oma’s recipes for May celebrations:

Sweet Woodruff Cheese Cake with Strawberries (Waldmeistertorte)

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Sweet Woodruff Jelly (Wackelpudding Waldmeister)

Sweet Woodruff Syrup (Waldmeistersirup)

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May Wine Punch (Maibowle)

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