Life seems to just keep skipping along. Perhaps the typical writer would use a more mundane adjective such as moving or plodding, but the realization that I have lived in this foreign country for over four moths justifies the use of a more sprightly temporal description. Another factor is the cheerful Christmas song written by a friend which is currently playing in my ears. Indeed, the season has hit in full force. There are several things here which celebrate the season in a different way. Most prominent of the differences in the celebration of the upcoming holiday is the bold declaration of, "Fröliche Weihnachten" instead of "Merry Christmas" splashed across innumerable signs and windows. Other notable variations are as follows:
1. No eggnog, instead there is a hot drink called Glüwien which can be found in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.
2. The local notion of a holiday market is something of an outdoor festival which is set up in the town square in the beginning of December and continues until Christmas. It is also open every day instead of merely the weekends and features primarily Glüwein, food, seasonal gifts and a carousel.
3. Growing up, I was familiar with Advent and had even seen the countdown calendars--the ones where you open the paper doors and see the picture of a candle, an angel, or a Santa-- or the paper chains to further encourage the excitement of the season in smaller children, but from what I have seen here they go rather further. These are no paper window calendars. They are small gifts or daily chocolates depending on the version (mine is the chocolate version for which I am very grateful). That's right... every day there's a little package to open. Oh, and there are two Santas here. The first one is Weihnacts Mann and he puts treats in the shoes which have been cleaned and left out by the children on the evening of December 5th. Niklaus, however, gives the gifts of Christmas which is apparently celebrated on the 24th of December.
4. "Holiday spirit" as encouraged in the States (i.e. kindness, and generosity), have not yet appeared on my radar here, but that does not exclude its existence it could merely mean that I am in the wrong circle.
5. I have yet to hear the flood of Christmas songs we learn so quickly to loathe in the shopping centers. Although the street accordion player has added "White Christmas" to his repertoire, there seems to be a general consensus to moderate the repetitiveness of the holiday music.
As I have not fully experienced this holiday I have much to learn about how it varies from the one I have known so well. This must conclude my observations of the moment, however, because I am sleepy and fully intend to make an early start of things tomorrow.