Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Herzlichen Gl├╝ckwunsch zum Geburtstag

Now that Mads has had her first German Birthday, I thought I'd make some notes on things I've learned about German Birthday customs. They may be of use next year.

No Pre-Birthday Birthdays

Maybe I'm wrong here, but my feeling is that in Australia if you are going to have a 'do' for a Birthday you choose the day closest to the actual day. So, if your Birthday is on a Saturday but you want to have a cake and champers at work, you'd do it on the Friday rather than wait until the Monday because it's closer in actual days. Is that right? In Germany it seems to be bad luck (or at least bad form) to pre-empt a Birthday. You don't wish people happy birthday in advance and you can't take a cake to the kindergarten before the day.

Also, I discovered to my horror, you are expected to bake a cake for your child's kindergarten birthday. Explaining that you are a terrible cook and the cake will be very flat makes no difference. You have to do it anyway.

Cake Carriers

I must admit I used to chortle whenever I saw people walking around carrying their cakes in one of these. I guess they are probably available in Australia, I'd just never seen one before. Maybe we are a nation that simply doesn't transport cakes much or maybe it's more about my own deliberate avoidance of cake-making or carrying. But when I realised there was no way out of making a cake for the kindergarten, I borrowed one of these transporters from someone and frankly, it was great. The cake barely moved as I swung it around, although that could have been because the cake was about 5 centimetres high and somewhat heavy. Still. It did make the train trip easier and the cloudy plastic stopped people from being able to see just how flat my cake was.

Birthday Registries

I've noticed that a lot of the big department stores here have a system where a kid who is about to have a birthday is given one of the store's plastic tubs to fill up with all the things they'd like their guests to give them. Then the tub is labelled and left in a shelf so that guests can come and choose things from it to give at the party. A sort of bridal registry, I guess, but for kids' gifts. Do these exist in Australia? I've not seen them.

And finally:
A kid dressed up as an obscure bright red super hero with bunny ears will attract less attention at Rome Termini than you might expect.

(See below)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Still here



So yes, there has been slackness on the blogging front of late which has been owing, in part, to there being a large amount of writing to be done in a short amount of time and to our recent slew of visitors (all of which we adored having!). First there was the delightful Marisa who overcame an unfortunate incident with a bad burrito early on in her stay and rallied to play endless games of 'Super Mouse' with Mads, even though she was herself only ever allowed to be 'regular cat'.

Then last week Matti and Evie arrived, which was very exciting, not the least because they speak German so finally we had someone to tell us what our mail said. I did discover, however, that it's a little humilating to have an 8 year old order for you in a cafe, so I began pretending I had larynjitus. One evening we took them to one of the Sachsenhausen Apple Wine Bars where the photo above was taken. I am leaning forward because I always look like I have a pin head in photos (although my head is actually quite large) and frankly, I'm tired of it.

Another day there was a visit to a reconstructed Roman barracks. I didn't go on that excursion, but apparently there was an impressive display of barracks-related items including a sandal, some weapons and handcuffs. It made quite an impression on Mads. When she got home she went straight to her room and made handcuffs for the Donnies (both hard and soft) with pipe cleaners. Then she left them on her floor to think about their misdeeds.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to the Frankfurt book fair. It's the biggest book fair in the world and I suspect it will be a somewhat sobering experience in some ways, but it should be interesting too.

Then on Friday we are going to Itri to meet up with Evie and Matti for the weekend and hopefully catch the last of the rapidly diminishing European warmth.