The Holidays: Not Over Yet
In my comparisons between the way Christmas is celebrated in the States and in Germany, I've been watching the crowds in the stores and the streets. As you all know, Christmas in the States is a consumer frenzy, with fights breaking out over toys and electronics, elbowing crowds of cranky last-minute shoppers, and traffic traffic traffic. Here, there are no fights, there are laughing, benevolent crowds, and still traffic traffic traffic. I suppose the screeching tires and angry shouts out driver's side windows could count as fights, as I imagine they could come to blows eventually, but for the most part, it is still a joyous occasion here, even if one has to wait in line at the department store for thirty minutes. They really keep the people entertained in the malls and stores here, with fairy tales being told for the little ones, live music (even if it's a sad rendition of You Are the Sunshine of My Life, at least they're trying), and bizarre circus characters, wandering around to ensure a continued contentment even if the bill comes out to six hundred Euros.
Yes, those people are on stilts. And, yes, they are in front of a pillar emblazoned with the image of, of all things, St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. This picture was taken in the infamous KaDeWe, which stands for Kaufhaus des Westens, or Department Store of the West. It's sort of like Nordstrom's or Bloomingdale's, but bigger and more expensive.
The crowds, though, are not only in the stores. They are also still in the streets, despite the below freezing weather, putting their kids on rides and then standing there watching them and drinking warm liquor. In the area around KaDeWe, along the street called Kurfurstendamm and the towering Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, the Weihnachts Markt is in full swing.
Tonight is most likely the last night of these markets, as the Germans celebrate their gift-giving and church-going Christmas on the 24th of December, with the 25th being a day of feasting and the 26th being a day of family and recuperation. Therefore, the next three days will be pretty quiet here in Berlin, so I'm just sitting here in our toasty apartment, writing my blog and wearing these little pink gloves that are supposed to keep my hands hydrated. It's really very dry here. If it rained, it would be snow, but it's extremely arid. My poor sinuses. The consistently wrong weather report tells me that tonight and tomorrow it'll snow, but I'm not so sure.
And soon, we'll be off to Poland. I'll most likely add another small message to my blog before we go, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, but in prelude to that, here's a Chrismas greeting from Brad and Santa Claus (or Weihnachts Mann, if you'd prefer his German name).