Dienstag, 31. März 2015

Frohe Ostern!

Ein deutscher Osterbaum
Ostern. At this time of year I have a bit of a hankering to get on the next ferry to Germany, as most of my visits to Germany have happened over the Easter holidays. My first trip was to a small town called Duderstadt, near the now-defunct border with the former DDR. I stayed with the Schäfer family who looked after all my needs very well. In their living room they had a small Osterbaum on a windowsill. I was enchanted by the simplicity of the idea and the joy of the design: a bunch of twigs taken from the garden was hung with decorated eggshells. I had been introduced to Germany's enthusiasm for Easter and I was hooked!

Another important feature of Easter in Germany is der Osterhase. According to German folklore this little character originally decided whether children had been naughty or good and carried coloured eggs, sweets or even little toys in a basket as a reward for well-behaved children. 

Germans decorate their houses and gardens with brightly coloured eggs and spring flowers. After a long cold winter everybody is looking forward to the spring, better weather and longer daysAnd not just because of the delicious Easter eggs I was given on Easter morning.

Osterhasen aus Schokolade
If you arrived in Hamburg on the Saturday before Easter Sunday you might be treated to the spectacular sight of bonfires all the way along the banks of the river Elbe as your boat travelled up to Hamburger Hafen. The Osterfeuer is another old German custom to welcome spring. In ancient times it was believed that the light from the fire would bring protection from sickness and misfortune.
Ein Osterfeuer

Donnerstag, 19. Februar 2015

Fasching and Karneval

If you were in Germany, Switzerland or Austria this week you would have seen colourful processions and spectacular masked figures on the streets of many towns and cities. This year's Karneval celebrations were confident and exuberant despite some festivities having to be cancelled because of terror threats.

What is it all about?

The carnival season officially begins on November 11th at 11.11 am, but most of the merrymaking happens during the week before Lent. In some places the beginning of Karneval is January 7th which marks the end of the Christmas period.

There have been jamborees at the end of winter in Germany for many thousands of years. In pre-Christian times people would dress up in masks to drive away the winter spirits and later, Catholics would spend time having fun before the serious business of fasting through Lent began on Ash Wednesday.

Today the celebrations are more secular (that is they are not directly connected to the Church) but they are enjoyed by millions of people throughout the German speaking countries.

The most well known procession takes place in Köln (Cologne) on Rosenmontag, which is the day before Shrove Tuesday. The parade attracts thousands of visitors who come to savour the carnival atmosphere and see the hundreds of costumes and masks on display. The Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week when Lent begins are not legal holidays in Germany, but many businesses close for these three days.

This year there were many different costumes in the Köln parades, some traditional and other eyebrow-raising ones which raise difficult political themes like the shootings in Paris earlier this year.

These pictures come from the Deutsche Welle website and show some of this year's pageants.

Mittwoch, 26. November 2014

Berlin by Night

Das ist der Berliner Dom bei Nacht.

It was lit up with colourful lights for the annual autumn Festival of Lights.

Freitag, 21. November 2014


In Class 5 this week we played a Blockbusters game to practise adjectives we are working on in German. You can play at home if you like. Just click on the answer button to see if you are right.

Click here to play

Learn German with Felix and Franzi

Felix the Frog and Franzi the duck are two lovable characters who bring German to life for young British learners of the language. Check out their antics on this clip:

Samstag, 15. November 2014


If you've already ridden the white knuckle rides at Alton Towers or sampled the thrills and spills on offer at Eurodisney then you might be ready to pay a visit to Europa-Park, Germany's biggest theme park.

The park is located In the beautiful Black Forest (Schwarzwald) between the cities of Freiburg and Strasbourg, not too far from the border with France.

The park has roller coasters galore to choose from, including Europe's first wooden roller coaster. For younger children there is Hansel and Gretel's Lebkuchenhaus, with a strong Germanic flavour. Fans of fairy tales can go to the Grimm Library to see the magic mirror and talking furniture and even take part in an interactive story along with other visitors.

To find out more about the park you can visit their website.

Here is a taste of the amazing attractions the park has to offer:

Dienstag, 11. November 2014

Montag, 3. November 2014

Wort der Woche: Feuerwerk

In Great Britain many children are getting ready for Bonfire Night, November 5th. On this night you will see and hear the bright colours and loud explosive noises of hundreds of Feuerwerke in the evening skies.

German people tend to buy Feuerwerke at the end of December to mark their New Year's Eve festivities. In fact in a year they set off over 30,000 tonnes of fireworks.

Feuerwerke is pronounced Foy-uh- verker.

These are some of the fireworks which are popular at German parties.



und Sternspritzer

Sonntag, 2. November 2014

St Martins Laternen

The lanterns carried in processions on St Martin's Day are colourful and bright and no two are the same. Here are a few examples:

St Martin's Day

November 11th is widely celebrated in Germany because it is the day when St Martin is remembered and revered.

St Martin was a knight in Roman times and one cold winter's day he was out riding on his horse. He saw a beggar at the roadside and took pity on him. The story goes that St Martin used his sword to cut his cloak in two and he gifted one half of the cloak to the shivering soul at the side of the road.

In some parts of Germany St Martin's Day is schulfrei, in other words there is no school. For German children St Martin's Day is a day to look forward to. When it gets dark, children wrap up warm and join their friends and other children in lantern processions. Many children have prepared home made lanterns which they take with them. They sing special songs and eat sweet bread rolls shaped like little men, called Weckmann. Sometimes there is a bonfire or children may go from door to door and they might be given small treats like cakes or sweets.

St Martin's Day lanterns are usually made of paper and lit by candlelight.