Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ghosts of Christmas Past (6)

Another Trip Down Memory Lane... Life In Germany...

Downtown Berlin at ChristmasDowntown Berlin at Christmas, about 1988

The largest city that I've ever lived in is Berlin, Germany. We went to West Berlin in 1988 with my husband's job in the Army-Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and by the time we left in 1991, Germany and the city of Berlin had been reunified and most of the infamous Berlin wall had been torn down.

It's interesting to me that in 1990, just a year before we moved to Kentucky, Berlin's population was 3,433,695 (East and West Berlin combined) and the entire state of Kentucky's population was 3,685,296.

Band at a Berlin Christmas marketA band at the Zehlendorf
Christmas market in Berlin
We lived in a part of Berlin called Zehlendorf. I'm sure it was once a little town that was gradually swallowed up by the metropolis. Zehlendorf had its own business district and they had a Christmas market (Weihnachtsmärkt) in December, much like those we had seen in the little villages of Bavaria.

For the Christmas market, streets were closed to traffic. Merchants set up tents and booths and sold all sorts of Christmas crafts, gifts, baking ingredients, and holiday decorations. Sausages and bratwursts, gingerbreads, and other holiday goodies were sold by vendors, most notably the spicy gluhwein (glowing wine,) served hot to warm cold fingers and toes. Children could ride a carousel or even a little pony.

Shepherd at the Christmas marketShepherd at the Christmas
market animal exhibit
The Christmas market photos at left were taken near the Paulus Gemeindehaus, a community center owned by the Zehlendorf Lutheran church. We felt very much at home at the Gemeindehaus because our church, the American Church in Berlin, used the building on Sundays for Sunday School classes.

The shepherd was watching over a little pen of sheep. Keely was a preschooler, just the right size to be fascinated by the sight of real sheep. I remember we stood by the sheep pen for a very long time before she finally had seen enough of them. Before we went home, I bought a carved rolling pin for making springerle, a souvenir of the Zehlendorf Weihnachtsmärkt which I have to this day.

While I was writing this post, I looked for the website of the American Church in Berlin (ACB) and learned that it no longer meets at the historic Alte Dorfkirche, just down the street from the Paulus Gemeindehaus. They've moved to a much larger church that's closer to the center of Berlin, near the area where the church was located before World War II.

I'm happy for the American Church, both because it has grown and because it has better facilities, but I enjoy my memories of the old village church in Zehlendorf. Worshiping in that historic Christian meeting house and attending Sunday School in the Paulus Gemeindehaus helped me feel like Zehlendorf was my home too.

The last Christmas we spent in Berlin, I sewed a dozen angel costumes for the ACB Sunday School Christmas program. I tried to make them sturdy so they'd last a long time. I hope they're still in use at the new church this Christmas.

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Sarabeth said...

I'm really enjoying this series. What a rich life.

Genevieve said...

Thanks, Sarabeth. :)

Truly, I have found life interesting, wherever I have lived. I think that is partly an inborn attitude. I am thankful that I have that sort of nature.

Lorraine said...

Yes, thank you for posting this, it brought back some good memories for me. I lived in Germany during the same time period you did and I remember the Christmas market also. We lived in Augsburg and on top of the Rathhaus, people dressed as angels would appear and music would fill the air to celebrate advent. It was quite beautiful.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lorraine. I enjoyed your memories of Germany too. :)

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.