Invited to spend Christmas with a friend and his family in Germany

49 posts in this topic

On 09/05/2020, 18:34:44, confu said:

What do you think should I bring for them when I visit?

 

I honestly wouldn't bring too much, especially not on a first visit. Food is good, don't give expensive permanent deco or pricey gifts to his family until you've got a ring on it.

 

Canadian maple syrup is available everywhere here, though you can get better quality In Canada. I would consider maple butter (just whipped maple syrup) or possibly pure maple (soft) sugar candy. But if you legit don't know where to buy it locally and are just going to buy it at the duty free shop, DON'T BOTHER. That stuff is all overpriced and low quality. You could try to bring butter tarts or nanaimo bars if you can make sure they don't get squashed. Or better yet, make them when you get here.

 

Canadian wild salmon (smoked) can be nice, but IME can be hard to find if it's off-season. I usually bring a can or two back for myself, but I doubt canned fish makes a nice gift, haha. I also usually bring back a bag or two of cheese curds, which I keep in a freezer bag stuffed with a frozen blue block. (You can freeze hard or semi-hard cheeses and it doesn't change the texture much.) Once I brought back some peameal bacon. Bring some Swiss Chalet or St.Hubert dipping sauces mixes and whip up an improptu poutine. Mmmmmmmm. 

 

Canadian ice wine is a nice novelty if you can fit it in, but it's expensive as hell, and it's not unknown here. Germans invented it. I also usually bring a bottle of Canadian whiskey whenever I come back here. It's not high-falutin' like scotch, but you can you introduce them to a ginger n' rye. Maybe some other novelty Canadian spirits, gin or rum (screech?). A jug of Clamato if you want to horrify them with that vile devil juice. Keep in mind that  --- standard warning about exceptions here, blah blah blah --- most Germans are quite happy with a safe, bland, boring flavour profile, so keep it simple food-wise. 

 

You could always bring some Canadian junk food like Coffee Crisp or Crunchie, Sour Patch Kids, or ketchup or all-dressed chips. Last time back I saw maple-flavoured marshmallows (i think they were PC brand?). A couple boxes of KD? What do you like? It's always nicer to receive something that has some thought or relevance to it and you can give a story. No one wants pens or little key chains with maple leaves on them (sadly, to my discovery).

 

Get ready to be asked about bears, wolves, moose, Indians (they mean First Nations, not Punjabis), ze naytcha (nature), and how much French you speak in the snowy state of Saskatorontowa on the Pacific Ocean. 

 

On 09/05/2020, 18:34:44, confu said:

Is there anything that I should be aware of?

 

Germans wear house shoes or they'll die. They will open the windows even in December when it's cold outside to let in 'fresh air'. I know, this blew my mind too. 

 

On 09/05/2020, 18:34:44, confu said:

Although I've done some research into German Christmases (e.g. celebrating on the 24th, eating goose, it's a family time, etc.), it'd be amazing to hear some first-hand experiences from all of you!

 

Every family does it different. I personally don't know anyone who does goose (sad, because I like it). My wife's family is half vegetarian, so raclette is the norm. On the 26th most things will still be closed, apart from restaurants, gas stations, train stations, etc. The shopping times will probably startle you. 

 

12 hours ago, AnswerToLife42 said:

PS

Don't bring animal products, could cause problems at the customs.

 

There's little you can bring from Canada that customs would have a problem with. Well marijuana, but don't bring that obvs. I'm going to take a wild guess that OP doesn't know any hunters with bear steaks in the freezer (supposedly good eating, as long as they haven't been eating fish). 

 

Also, just don't tell them. S.W.I.M. has smuggled in large amounts of cheese, meats, beer, spirits, and homemade saran-wrapped food from Canada and no Zollner has ever been the wiser.

 

5 hours ago, BobbyDigital said:

Don't get into all that stuff, it's just people being goofy.

Nürnberg is in Bavaria so he is Bavarian. Plus you said near Nürnberg, near is relative. I'm a 45 minute drive south of Nürnberg (south of the Weißwurstäquator) and it is quite Bavarian, and very Catholic.

 

Although some people are quite serious about being Franconian and not Bavarian, or more a fringe is it?

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On your premise in your first sentence then there's no point of bringing almost anything. We can buy everything here. Yup. Just saying.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your suggestions and insights, @alderhill!! I completely forgot that Coffee Crisps were an exclusively Canadian thing haha. Loved them as a kid. My family's Chinese Canadian from the West Coast, so I might bring them some cute New Years snacks and decorations as well!

 

Between your and Santitas's experiences though, I feel like I should just get rid of the crush and view the Christmas invite as any other friendly vacation. Even if he acts like he's into me sometimes, I don't wanna hurt myself by holding onto false hope.

 

That said, he is a good friend to have, and I still look forward to the upcoming cultural exchange haha :D

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, McDee said:

On your premise in your first sentence then there's no point of bringing almost anything. We can buy everything here. Yup. Just saying.

Haha aww I thought it might be fun to bring presents for the festive season!

 

Edit: I'd likely be flying from the Canadian capital after visiting my parents for a bit, not staying in New York too long :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, confu said:

While he described himself as Bavarian and seems to be Catholic, he wouldn't technically be Bavarian, right? If Franconia comprises the majority of the North of the province?

 

Technically, he´s Bavarian, as Franconia is no longer a state in it´s own right. It´s part of the state of Bavaria which is one of 16 states that consitute the Federal Republic of Germany. There are 3 Franconias: Lower, Middle and Upper Franconia (according to altitude). Nürnberg is part of Middle Franconia but even though being the biggest city it´s not where the government od Middle Franconia resides (that´s Ansbach).

 

8 hours ago, alderhill said:

Although some people are quite serious about being Franconian and not Bavarian, or more a fringe is it?

 

There is the Fränkischer Bund which has the aim of declaring Franconia a state of it´s own - i. e. no longer part of Bavaria but still part of federal Germany. IIRC they even ran for state elections 30 years or so ago but never gained much popularity. For most people it´s just beeing goofy - as has been said already. Even though there may be a kernel of truth in the claim that Franconia is put on the back seat when it comes to distribution of state funds among the Bavarian regions. E. g. the universities of Munich are usually given the latest tools before Franconian universities are being equipped with it or Franconian towns are being relatively underfunded when it comes to money for ring roads etc. I don´t know if it´s true, just heard the complaint. After all, Markus Söder, the current PM of Bavaria is from Nürnberg.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, confu said:

Even if he acts like he's into me sometimes, I don't wanna hurt myself by holding onto false hope.

 

If in doubt asking directly is ok in German culture. Beating around the bush and looking for hints isn´t necessary.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, jeba said:

Technically, he´s Bavarian, as Franconia is no longer a state in it´s own right. It´s part of the state of Bavaria which is one of 16 states that consitute the Federal Republic of Germany. There are 3 Franconias: Lower, Middle and Upper Franconia (according to altitude). Nürnberg is part of Middle Franconia but even though being the biggest city it´s not where the government od Middle Franconia resides (that´s Ansbach).

 

There is the Fränkischer Bund which has the aim of declaring Franconia a state of it´s own - i. e. no longer part of Bavaria but still part of federal Germany. IIRC they even ran for state elections 30 years or so ago but never gained much popularity. For most people it´s just beeing goofy - as has been said already. Even though there may be a kernel of truth in the claim that Franconia is put on the back seat when it comes to distribution of state funds among the Bavarian regions. E. g. the universities of Munich are usually given the latest tools before Franconian universities are being equipped with it or Franconian towns are being relatively underfunded when it comes to money for ring roads etc. I don´t know if it´s true, just heard the complaint. After all, Markus Söder, the current PM of Bavaria is from Nürnberg.

Haha that's interesting! I guess legitimate support to overthrow the Bavarian overlords never really picked up.

 

6 hours ago, jeba said:

If in doubt asking directly is ok in German culture. Beating around the bush and looking for hints isn´t necessary.

Yeah, I'm just afraid of making things awkward or seeming desperate. Plus, I really think this quarantine is making me go a little crazy. Even though I don't think he's interested at this point, I'll try to bring it up the next time I see him. That won't be for a while though haha

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Krieg said:

Make some Poutine for them when here.

Haha I'm not the biggest fan of Poutine! But we'll see :)

Thanks, Krieg.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The friends and acqaintances I have here don't go in for big or expensive presents among non-family visitors and expensive stuff would not be expected from a young traveller. But giving small presents/souvenirs "Mitbringsels" is very common and much appreciated even on informal invites to Kaffee und Kuchen in someone's house. I find people are very creative in wrapping up small gifts in a personal or imaginative way, often using natural materials.

Another thing I've noticed here is the affectionate and thoughtful way in which people  express good wishes on special occasions either verbally or in a  card, say. None of your quickly scribbled Happy Xmas or Have a Good Year!

Oh, and shaking everyone's hand is normally de rigeur; my neighbours look excruciatingly uncomfortable not doing it in the current situation!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, RedMidge said:

Please- no poutine!

Hahaha I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way about Canada's national "cuisine."

 

59 minutes ago, Feierabend said:

The friends and acqaintances I have here don't go in for big or expensive presents among non-family visitors and expensive stuff would not be expected from a young traveller. But giving small presents/souvenirs "Mitbringsels" is very common and much appreciated even on informal invites to Kaffee und Kuchen in someone's house. I find people are very creative in wrapping up small gifts in a personal or imaginative way, often using natural materials.

Another thing I've noticed here is the affectionate and thoughtful way in which people  express good wishes on special occasions either verbally or in a  card, say. None of your quickly scribbled Happy Xmas or Have a Good Year!

Oh, and shaking everyone's hand is normally de rigeur; my neighbours look excruciatingly uncomfortable not doing it in the current situation!

Thank you, Feierabend! This is exactly the type of answer I was looking for :)

Comparing to when I visit Asia or see family acquaintances, it'd be customary to bring higher-end alcohol (mostly wines or spirits), fight over the cheque for a large meal at a good restaurant, or bring some other semi-fancy thing. But from what you're describing, it seems to make more sense to bring something small that's more personal/thoughtful and creatively packaged to Germany. Well noted! I'll have a lot of fun with this!

 

Haha since that is more or less settled, I'd love to hear more about Christmas customs or social norms!

Otherwise, I'll let you guys know how he reacts to my impending confession when it happens. Thanks, all!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, confu said:

Haha since that is more or less settled, I'd love to hear more about Christmas customs or social norms!

 

The "big" day or rather evening is that of the 24th December here (as opposed to the 25th at least in many English-speaking countries).

We live in the heathen North of Germany & Christmas Eve evening meal is close family whereas on the 25th we do UK-style turkey with all trimmings for enlarged family.

In most German households up here the 25th is not really very special.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, HEM said:

The "big" day or rather evening is that of the 24th December here (as opposed to the 25th at least in many English-speaking countries).

We live in the heathen North of Germany & Christmas Eve evening meal is close family whereas on the 25th we do UK-style turkey with all trimmings for enlarged family.

In most German households up here the 25th is not really very special.

Haha that explains why he thought I meant the 24th when I said my birthday was around Christmas! Very interesting. I read that kids opened their presents on Christmas Eve as well, so this is really great to know!

 

I also read that the 26th is the Second Day of Christmas in Germany, which happens to be my birthday. In Commonwealth countries like Canada, it's Boxing Day like the UK, and we have a lot of sales so it becomes a day of consumerism haha. (But Boxing Day isn't a thing in all English-speaking countries, as I discovered coming to the US.)

Do Germans do anything on the 26th? Or is it not as meaningful of a day, like the 25th?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Feierabend said:

 But giving small presents/souvenirs "Mitbringsels" is very common and much appreciated

Yes. Like e. g. toilet paper and disinfectant. Or FFP 3 masks.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, confu said:

Do Germans do anything on the 26th?

No.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jeba said:

Yes. Like e. g. toilet paper and disinfectant. Or FFP 3 masks.

Funny thing is I've been bringing face masks over to him because we're pretty much out of stock in NYC... but the guy acts like he's immortal sometimes 😩

 

58 minutes ago, jeba said:

No.

Woop! Now, hopefully international flights will be an actual thing in seven months.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Things vary also from region to region. In my area, ex DDR and traditionally "Protestant " the season's rhythm goes basically;

The four weeks of Advent, everyone wishes each other Schönen Erste/Zweite/Dritte Advent on each of the four weekends. Markets, Advent concerts everywhere, lots of cosy meetups and commercialism as per the world over.

Heilgabend, the 24th is rhe highlight. But it's not a public holiday, shops shut early afternoon and the poor sods who have to work somehow have to get into festive mode for the evening. Around here, Kartoffelsalat and Wurst of some kind is a big deal at the meal! But lots of variation between families as per their own habit. The Bescherung, giving of the presents is the highlight. Male rellies get roped in to be the Weihnachtsmann in red coats and wonky beards.

25th is a bit more like UK Boxing Day, lots of visiting. In my  village (another!) Weihnachtsmann, flanked by a couple of tinselly angels, arrives in a horse and cart with small presents for children. I'm not sure if that's organised by the Gemeindeamt or the local Feuerwehr who are the hard core of village social life.

Then nothing much until Sylvester. (Life-threatening uncontrolled fireworks on every street, compulsory watching of Dinner for One whilst under-the-influence.)

If I was getting some little present from Canada, I think I'd like something that reflects one of  the diverse cultures - a small textile, a CD of trad music, a  nicely made little artefact ... teamed up with  a little box of whatever local chocs or sweets.  Have a little selection of photos of your area and anything quirky or places particularly special in it ready to chat about ...

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

germans love gift baskets with wine, cheese etc for example 

like previously mentioned I think a lot of people would be happy about you bringing something from canada! that is a nice gesture! 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Feierabend said:

Things vary also from region to region. In my area, ex DDR and traditionally "Protestant " the season's rhythm goes basically;

The four weeks of Advent, everyone wishes each other Schönen Erste/Zweite/Dritte Advent on each of the four weekends. Markets, Advent concerts everywhere, lots of cosy meetups and commercialism as per the world over.

Heilgabend, the 24th is rhe highlight. But it's not a public holiday, shops shut early afternoon and the poor sods who have to work somehow have to get into festive mode for the evening. Around here, Kartoffelsalat and Wurst of some kind is a big deal at the meal! But lots of variation between families as per their own habit. The Bescherung, giving of the presents is the highlight. Male rellies get roped in to be the Weihnachtsmann in red coats and wonky beards.

25th is a bit more like UK Boxing Day, lots of visiting. In my  village (another!) Weihnachtsmann, flanked by a couple of tinselly angels, arrives in a horse and cart with small presents for children. I'm not sure if that's organised by the Gemeindeamt or the local Feuerwehr who are the hard core of village social life.

Then nothing much until Sylvester. (Life-threatening uncontrolled fireworks on every street, compulsory watching of Dinner for One whilst under-the-influence.)

If I was getting some little present from Canada, I think I'd like something that reflects one of  the diverse cultures - a small textile, a CD of trad music, a  nicely made little artefact ... teamed up with  a little box of whatever local chocs or sweets.  Have a little selection of photos of your area and anything quirky or places particularly special in it ready to chat about ...

Haha I'd love to see people so dressed up and festive! That's so wonderful :)

And thank you for all the gift recommendations. I'll definitely put a few of those ideas things together with a cute package!

 

4 hours ago, goodtimezz said:

germans love gift baskets with wine, cheese etc for example 

like previously mentioned I think a lot of people would be happy about you bringing something from canada! that is a nice gesture! 

 

A gift basket is a wonderful idea! I might just use it ;)

Thank you!!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now