December 15, 2005

Christmas comes to Tübingen

Filed under: Germany — Alex Ravenel @ 3:09 pm

Christmas has hit hard. Several weeks ago, just about Thanksgiving, decorations started going up. Nothing serious, nothing like the jam-packed shopping malls decked out in lights and holiday colors that typify the season in the US, but still, it was coming. And it kept coming. Slowly, things going up one at a time, until a week or so ago when all of a sudden, it seemed like someone threw the switch and the city was fully decorated.

Die FeurzangenbowleThen, last Friday evening was Die Feuerzangenbowle. Die Feuerzangenbowle is both a drink and a movie, and it is quite the custom to drink the drink and watch the movie this time of the year. The movie is here what It’s A Wonderful Life is to the US. The drink is red wine mixed with spices (most likely cinnamon and clove), orange juice, and strong rum. There is then a cone of sugar placed over the pot, which is doused in 54% rum and lit afire. The sugar caramelizes and drips down into the drink, sweetening it. This Friday night, the whole thing was on a big scale. Tuebingen Christmas MarketThere was a movie screen hung from one of the medieval houses on Platz vor dem Haagtor, a small plaza in the western Altstadt, and a massive projector and speaker system showed the movie for the hundreds of people gathered there. And they had the drink as well. A massive pot, further across than I am tall, and with a sugar cone taller than I am on top, was lit afire, with huge blue flames reaching for the sky. I bought myself a cup of the warm drink and stood there, bundled up, watching the German movie. A most excellent experience, and the movie was pretty good—though I’m amazed they managed to make it at all in 1944, with Germany fighting on two fronts and being bombed day and night. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so the photo here was taken by Lawrence Tooth, who has generously allowed me to post it here.

Der WeinachtsmanAlso last weekend was the Tübingen Weinachtsmarkt, the Christmas market here. A much smaller, though I felt, more genuine version than the one in Nürnberg. Unfortunately though, it was only that one weekend, which also meant that the market was unbelievably crowded, and it took one about 20 minutes to move 20 meters. I did, however, have the best Glühwein I have had—and it was also the cheapest I’ve had. Some things are just done better on a smaller scale.

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