My first true German Christmas celebration happened this year, with my German boyfriend’s family. We did it all, the decoration, the church, the food, the presents, and the singing! What an anthropologic roller-coaster it was. Since I moved here the only Christmas I experienced was with my ex-pats friends, which means everyone brings something from their culture which is very nice but it was not the same as the full-on Christmas with the family experience.
But I have a special talent to stress myself out, so to deal with that problem I like to be prepared. So naturally, I approached the only reasonable source of knowledge – My dear boyfriend. I asked him about a million questions, like what should I wear? What will we eat? What do we do in the church? Are Jewish people allowed to take part in the Christmas mass? Some of my questions were reasonable and some were just weird. The worst was the question: “what would you like for Christmas?” for me a legitimate question for my boyfriend no so much, “you are NOT supposed to ask that!” he told me with outrage. I have to say I was surprised because everybody knows you can tell Santa Claus what you want and if you can tell Santa why can’t you tell me? After this silly discussion that almost ended with a fight, we established that the gifts should have some sentimental value, and the closer the person is to you the bigger the present should be, so a Christmas gift for a boyfriend equal to a birthday gift.
Although we established a status quo the gifts continued to be an issue, unlike me and every other German on the plant my boyfriend doesn’t like to plan, he buys Christmas presents few days before Christmas, and for me, sentimental value gifts mean to think ahead. Eventually, we managed to find a balance between the two, and all of our gifts were smashing success.
The Christmas events went pretty smoothly, I did NOT burn on the spot when I entered the church. I could totally pretend I’m singing and not sing. As all Jewish holidays involved with a crazy amount of food, I was well prepared for dinner, except for the goose. My boyfriend’s parents prepared this beautifully roasted goose, and it was the first time eating a goose, so I was excited. Let’s just say that my weak Jewish stomach couldn’t really handle this rich and fat bird. This is one tradition I will have to skip next year.
From all of the Christmas events and activities, the best one was the decoration of the Christmas tree. My boyfriend’s parents bought this huge tree and we decorated it with dozens of beautiful vintage decorations, that the mom is collecting for decades.
The only thing that I missed from the complete magical Christmas experience was Santa Claus or like the Germans call him Weihnachtsmann (Christmas-man). Usually, the job of being Santa Claus falls on my boyfriend, the uncle, but this year there were no kids in our celebration, hence no Santa Claus. So I couldn’t sit on his lap and tell him what I want for Christmas, inappropriate as it is. But like all good things, Christmas will come back next year and I have something to look forwards to – Meeting Santa.
Adi G. is a graphic designer and illustrator from Israel. She lives in Berlin 7 years. Her favorite thing about Berlin is the international food scene.