German Traditional Sunday

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

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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.

[Click pictures to enlarge.]

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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 four, 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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  • Wool & Whimsy

    Hello Oma! I enjoyed reading this very much. Although my Grandmother grew up here, your Sundays sound much like ours and remembering a trip to the butcher on Saturday made me smile. I always loved getting a free slice of Wunderbar! The cakes…Sunday school and walking on buckets were all things I had long forgotten about. Thank you for the memories. Might I add, bone broth is becoming very popular now. Many health-conscious magazines are saying it’s for your best health. I saw that and thought hmmm…I grew up hearing about this. German Grandmother’s have known for years! I searched and can’t find her recipe so thank you, I will use yours. Pictures to follow!

    • The Oma Way

      Wool & Whimsy thank you so much for your nice response. I am sorry to answer so late, but I am working on the site for quite a while and was not able to enter to answer. You mentioned the bone broth becoming popular again. I realize more and more that the basic cooking offers balanced and healthy meals without reinventing the wheel. The variety is very important and that’s what German homemade food offers. I am glad I was taught by my grandmother and mother. I enjoy to share my knowledge with everyone. Thanks again for your nice comment yours, Oma

  • Maria S.

    I couldn’t find any mention of the name of your hometown. Just curious.

    • The Oma Way

      Maria, it is a town in State of Hesse.

      • Maria S.

        That much, I’d gathered. Since I live in Hesse, I was wondering what town you were originally from.

        • The Oma Way

          Maria sorry I misunderstood. I was born in Wiesbaden, but moved to Frankfurt am Main when I was 11 years old.

          • Michelle Foushi

            My family lives in Mannheim! I also have family in Hörselgau…

          • The Oma Way

            Michelle, Mannheim is not too far away from Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, were I come from.

    • Gisela Miranda

      Ich bin von Darmstatd hessen

  • Cynthia Vaughn Reed

    Hello Oma, I want to stay in touch. I am an american who did some growing up in Germany. My dad was stationed at Hahn when I was a pre teen and a teenager. When I was a young mother I went back to Hahn with my husband and daughter. My son was born at the hospital there. We have loved all the German food we were introduced to so am saving some to pass down to my children so they can show their children some of the dishes they and we were exposed to. I really miss Germany and would love to go for another visit but I am 69 now and figure it is unlikely. My visits will be through my new German friends.

    • The Oma Way

      Cynthia, thank you so much for your nice and informative comment. You found the right place, to be in connection with everything German. You could also check out the Oma Facebook site. There, you will find many Germans and great conversations. Yours, Oma

  • Jeanette Williams Pearson

    Hello Oma. I cry everytme I read your articles. My mom was German and I too was born there. I spent my first years growing up in my Oma’s little village going to kindergarten and first grade in an all German school. When we moved to the states I would still go back every summer for three months. I loved the old traditions, the love, the food, and spending time with my most amazing Oma and Opa. I’ve always felt my happiest there. Within the past 13 years I lost my Opa, two weeks later my Oma, 6 years later my wonderful uncle who was a k9 policeman and often let me take one of his retired dogs for long walks and companionship since I was a shy child. Slowly my numerous great aunts and uncles passed then just this December my own mother died unexpectedly at 75. My heart yearns for all the comforts of those days and the unconditional love and safety I’ve always felt. Your posts gives me some of that so I say Thank you. ❤

    • The Oma Way

      Jeanette, thank you so much for your nice comment and the appreciation of my work. I do enjoy this website very much and even more the connection to the people interested. I can not give back what’s lost, but I can try to keep it as a beautiful memory and share it. Yours, Oma

    • Marion Chabot

      I still go home to Germany at times .Was there this year took my 7 year old grandson.Its unfortunately not like it used to be.Im 72 now and miss the good old German traditional days.

  • Inken Finnamore

    Lovely entry – I have the same Villeroy and Boch china – just gorgeous!

    • The Oma Way

      Inken, thank you so much for your nice comment. The Boch china is called “Old Luxembourg” and it is the oldest pattern of Villeroy & Boch. I love it and so do my daughters and my daughter in law.

      • Gwen

        It is a beautiful pattern! I have just one piece, but I treasure it because it is a gift from my relatives in Luxembourg.

        • The Oma Way

          Gwen, I also like very much this pattern. It is simple elegant but always festive. Not too much.

  • Sylvia Anne McGee

    Jeden Sonntag. Wie schön es war. Ich vermisse es sehr. Ich Danke dir Oma. Deine artikel sind wie einen besuch bei meiner Oma.

    • The Oma Way

      Sylvia Anne, vielen Dank fuer Ihren netten Kommentar. Ich bin immer fuer ein feedback sehr dankbar. Yours, Oma

  • Eden Charlotte

    Natuerlich durfte man am Sonntag keine Jeans anziehen und musste aufpassen, dass man das schoene Sonntagskleid beim Spielen nach der Kirche nicht schmutzig macht.

    • The Oma Way

      Charlotte, die Sonntagskleidung habe ich nicht gemocht. War meistens auch zu eng. So empfand ich das.

  • Liliane Briscoe

    Thanks for the memories, i grew up with Oma and Opa and your week end was just like mine, I grew up in Eibach by Nurnberg. the wonderful meals my Oma prepared was out of this world, I consider myself a good cook but my daughter is an excellent cook and follows in Oma’s footsteps, also my son is a good cook and both follow german recipes that I brought with me from Germany.

    • Doris Campbell

      Da waren wir ja Nachbarn Liliane. Ich wuchs in Reichelsdorf bei Nurnberg auf.