But then... Berlin is basically back IN Fall this week! It was up to over 50 Fahrenheit (that's about 12 Celsius) on Christmas day. Needless to say, it was not a white Christmas. It was a rainy one instead.
Whatever you celebrate, you hopefully had a few days off. We chose to spend them with a few good friends and made a nice dinner party. It was great to have a chance to relax and breathe for a bit.
Now that those days are over (at least until the New Year) I decided to get a little work done and voila - Sunday in Fall.
However, Sundays are not always lost, as this piece had its beginnings on a Sunday.
Speaking of holidays - I should mention a word about holidays while abroad. Back in the USA it seems there were some snowstorms and such, and I got plenty of Facebook updates of my friends, showing their uploaded pictures from various holiday-themed events from Christmas to anti-Christmas as well as touching stories and quotes to help us get into the holiday spirit ranging from a bit silly to truly inspiring. It is much like this on every holiday, I find, now that I have been away, at least on Facebook.
Germany, and Berlin as well, is primarily a Christian country in terms of what its people believe. Berlin (though I have no personal experience with other German cities) seems to be a mecca of varying Christmas markets. I know most towns, villages, and all of the major cities have a few of these Christmas markets, but I would be hard pressed to believe that any of them have more than Berlin. Do correct me if I am wrong... as I said, I have no experiences of my own.
Here, there were Christmas markets in every part of town. I ran into 3 of them in Mitte, and I'm not sure they were the only three there. The markets run from being free and permanent (till January) and open and packed, such as in Alexanderplatz, where most tourists and travelers pass along with a healthy helping of Berliners of all sorts, to temporary such as in some of the "boroughs", to paid entry (though it was only a Euro, but I suppose it kept the riff-raff out. The ticket was also 1 Euro off for the Dali museum, so I'm not sure it was a money making scheme).
Christmas markets exist to a certain extent in the United States, but are quite localized and those in big cities are not so "extrovertedly" publicized as to attract attention to the fact that they are not being fair and equal to other religions and beliefs. Hence the "Happy Holidays" that is so prevalent in the USA, and so blatantly ignored here with all of these Christmas markets in most of the public squares.
My point with all this was not to get into my amazement with the sheer number of Christmas markets (another time, another place) but rather to mention the little fact that it was strange and difficult to get "in the Christmas *ahem* Holiday spirit" without my obligatory inundation of Reindeer- and Santa-themed advertisements on TV and billboards, stores covered with either Happy Holidays or the triple combo of Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa, and the sounds of all of the American or Americanized Christmas tunes (not so many Hanukkah or Kwanzaa songs still, USA, sorry to say) I knew so well from Elementary and Middle School chorus classes.
The advertisements I did well without. The holiday greetings - well I saw lots of Merry Christmases and maybe some Happy Holidays but part of me missed seeing a few Happy Hanukkah and some Happy Kwanzaa signs around. And as much as I might have enjoyed the novelty of hearing a few unfamiliar Christmas-themed tunes on the radio at first, in the end what I really missed was 50 Shades of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (songs...).
It is tough to deal with the holidays in a new town with only a few new friends around. Luckily we had some who were game to come over and spend a holiday evening with us. Being away from familiar traditions, sights and sounds makes it difficult to sympathize so easily with my friends back in the USA and their building Holiday excitement, but even when we aren't in contact, seeing their posts and pictures on the 25th and 26th especially warm my heart and remind me of the wonderful people I had gotten the pleasure to meet, live with, work with, and share my life with.
This post wasn't much about music, and it was only a bit about my actual work in the last few weeks. However, it is here to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and everything else I have missed. And, this is to remind everyone how their pictures and good wishes on Facebook can seem silly when all of their friends are in the same town and are seeing each other often, but those pictures and good wishes are precious to those of us who are far away from the people we know best, and we like to know our friends and family back home are doing well!