Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Markets / Germany

Two couples I know, at this very moment, are visiting Germany from Canada, just to see the Christmas markets.  It is news to me that this is a touristy thing to do.  But they invent new ways to make money and grow the economy, all the time. In that respect, ingenuity knows no bounds.

I do marvel, because, in spite of growing up to Germany, I have never really been to a Christmas market.  It was just not something we did, just like we did not go to any Oktoberfest in Munich.  It was just something for the heathen out there, for spending money that could be saved and sent to the overseas mission society.  Seriously.  We did buy ice cream at the parlor on the market square, in summer.

But look at this lovely picture.  The old houses, the market place, the statue of someone famous, the big Christmas tree, the inviting stands, somewhere a fountain--what could be merrier. -- My father saved his money for traveling to Canada.  That was the other thing.  We went to different countries to see things.  This would be the same reason Canadians go to Christmas markets in Germany, where it is probably raining and gloomy.  We have nicer sun and snow here...

I have an aunt in Germany who sometimes writes me about the Christmas activities in these public places.  She is not a regular church attender, but she always moans:  there is nothing "Besinnliches." -- Now, how would you say "besinnlich" in English?  "Besinnlich" is something away from the bustle, something for going inside yourself and contemplating, something meaningful to ponder, something more deeply human and godly. Something you hope to find in Advent and Christmas;  the quiet wonder at the miracle of God loving man, or even man loving man, in spite of the conditions of the world.

Could one find this on this square?  Is the problem with the market?  With the money-making motive?  With our selfish need to find something that hits us the right way?  Our expectations?   Where will my aunt find something "besinnlich" in the German Christmas experience?  Or any Christmas experience?  Or, for that matter, any experience?

Where will we?


gerhardt said...

Gitte....'besinnlich' = Thought provoking or contemplative in English!
I couldn't imagine anyone not finding that, somewhere in a Christmas market in Germany! Direct her to listen to the Weihnachts Oratorio (Bach)or to "Vom Himmel Hoch" (Reger)...

Brigitte said...

Good advice Gerhardt. Funny thing is that over the years, I have not got to know this aunt as well as one might hope. I should give it a try, again over Christmas. "Besinnlich", yes, I would go with contemplative. But I am also trying to think of what she means or wants. I think she is getting at this deep dissatisfaction we often feel, and while Christmas can be so hyped even about the feelings involved, it just can seem hollow. All the more, we need to make a little effort to find some way to be more contemplative.