Better German Podcast with Susi

Susanne Schilk-Blümel

Episode 13 - Festivals in Autumn and Winter in Austria and Germany

Part 1 of a Holiday Special for Thanksgiving and the autumn time

2023-11-23 35 min Susanne Schilk-Blümel

Description & Show Notes

The topic for this episode is special days, holidays, and festivals in the German-speaking area throughout autumn and winter. Highlights include coverage of Austria's diverse traditions and the Austrian national holiday. Furthermore, language and cultural nuances concerning religious holidays, cultural festivals, and national events are discussed. Susi also compares Thanksgiving to holidays in Austria. Alongside these points, she mentions the upcoming guide for watching German TV shows and movies that will be released in the forthcoming episode.

In this episode of Better German, host Susi Blumel speaks about the festivals and holidays in the autumn and winter seasons. She discusses the public holidays in Austria, including the unique traditions of Allerheiligen  (All Saint’s Day) and Matinstag (St. Martin’s Day). The episode also explores the interesting customs of Lantern-making, the colourful Carnival season and the extravagant Ball season in Vienna. Blumel also shines a spotlight on Halloween and the emergence of Christmas markets. Additionally, she teases the upcoming episodes focused on watching movies to learn German. The episode is filled with culture and personal experiences, making it an interactive Episode of the festive and celebratory spirit in the German-speaking world.
Key Points:
- The host discusses upcoming episodes about learning German through movies and TV shows. 
- Various holidays and traditions are highlighted, such as Halloween, Allerheiligen, Saint Martin's Day, and the start of carnival season.
- The episode introduces the concept of the beautiful ball season, Christmas markets, and the significance of certain public holidays in Austria and Germany.
 Upcoming Episode Teaser:
   - Part 2 of the Festivals and Holidays Autumn Winter series: Focused on movies to watch for learning German.
   - Special freebie: An interactive guide for watching German movies and TV shows.
Audience Acknowledgment:
   - Susi Blumel extends greetings to her listeners in the United States and acknowledges Thanksgiving as a significant holiday for some listeners.
Winter Challenges and Festivals:
   - Susi Blumel discusses the challenges of winter in Austria, with short days and cold weather.
Harvest Festivals and Traditions:
   - Blumel discusses local harvest festivals in rural Austria, as well as the Oktoberfest tradition in Germany.
National Holidays:
   - The German national holiday on 3rd October, celebrated as the Day of German Unity.
   - The Austrian national holiday on 26th October, marking Austria's declaration of neutrality after the Second World War, with a show of the military in Vienna on this day.
Next Episode: 
Episode 14 We have fun as we learn how to enjoy the language by putting our feet up, relaxing and watching German-speaking films!
·      Other additional Materials
·      Interactive German Movie Guide
·      Your First Sentences in German

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Welcome to the Better German podcast. My name is Susi Blümel, and I will teach you German and everything around the language , the countries and the culture. Welcome to the new episode of better German. I'm quite excited to do this. This episode is about all the special days, holidays festivals at the end of the year, starting in autumn, going until the end of the year, in the German speaking area in general. I'm going to cover a few things that are for all of Austria, Germany, not so much Switzerland, because I don't know so much about their traditions, to be honest. But most things are about Austria. So in case you heard, I was actually planning that this episode 13 is an episode that I'm also super excited about. And that's an episode about watching movies or TV shows to learn German, to watch German TV shows with subtitles. I have recorded this episode and I'm very excited, it's a very special episode to me. I've actually been working on this for quite a while, and there will be a very special freebie, that I'm really happy about. Once this is going live, you will be able to log in to my homepage and have an interactive guide, for watching movies or TV shows. So you can choose different options, you can say, okay, I want Netflix because I only have Netflix, and I want intermediate, or you can go by subject, or you can even choose by language of subtitles available. So this is going to be a guide that comes out as a freebie, with the next episode. This is going to be episode 14. I changed the date for that episode because I realized that this episode is going to air, on Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Austria. And I was looking at the episodes, the podcast statistics, and I saw that I have a lot of listeners, in the United States and I'm very glad about, so hello, shout out to all of my Us listeners. I'm very glad that you're there. I've also been. lucky to spend Thanksgiving in the United States in the past. And I loved it. It was a very lovely holiday. And when I looked at that, I realized there's so much, you could say about the different holidays and festivities and things going on from around September to the end of the year in Austria and Germany. It's quite an interesting time. And I also realized it's quite different to what it is in other countries. Maybe you're going to listen to it on Thanksgiving maybe later. I hope you're going to be in holiday mood. So happy holidays, maybe you are listening to this much later, then I hope you enjoy it anyway. At the very end of this episode, there will be a word list, because after all, this podcast is about learning German, so at the end, I'm still giving you quite a lot of nouns that are around the whole topic of what are we going to cover in this episode. However, I think learning a language, is not so much only about learning what do the words or the sentences mean in another language, but it's also about understanding a culture. And I think it's a very nice approach towards any culture to look at their festivities, to look at their traditions. This is quite a subjective thing, Austria and Germany are very diverse countries, we have people of, different religions, different degrees of religiousness, or no religions. I obviously I can speak for all people that live in Austria, I'm just trying to give you my very subjective view, on these different kinds of things that are going on at this time of the year. I have to say. It's actually not my favorite time of the year, I'm a summer person. I'm a spring and summer person. And at the very beginning of the winter every year. I'm like, how am I going to survive this winter? Not everybody, that listens to this is going to have the same, time zone. Of course not, so I'm also going to give you a little bit of a reality, how it is. So we have real winters. of course nothing. Like, I don't know, Alaska or Siberia. But it's pretty cold here and it's dark. It's really dark. We are having the middle of November now, and up until the 21st of December, the days are actually getting shorter. until on the 21st of December, we only have eight hours of daylight, so it's pretty dark. So let's get started with the actual calendar of events or however you want to call it. The first thing, I want to mention that's a local festivity and it doesn't have a set date. Around September, in many areas of the more rural Austria, not so much in Vienna, we have harvest festivals "Erntedank" we call it. so yeah, this is usually when the harvest is complete. In Vienna, there is a harvest festival in the beginning of September, and it it's nice. They have floats and a big party on one of the nice big places in Vienna. However, it's not a traditional thing for our family or for people that live in the cities. If you're however, visiting a village in the countryside, or if you are from a countryside, then that is a big thing. Okay, good. So that's harvest festivals, these are local festivities. And then, that's a more recent development for us in Austria, in Germany, there is a big tradition, particularly in the Munich area or actually in the whole Southern area. There is a tradition called Oktoberfest. So that's October festival. And, you probably have heard about that. It's a big thing. And it's a.hugeot festival. Where people drink, beer, they eat traditional foods. Most people dress in the traditional clothes. or a modern version of the traditional clothes. So the, the female version of the traditional clothes is called It's a dress, it's a nice dress and it's also the name for girl in many regional areas. Then the next holiday that I want to talk about shortly, just shortly, because I really don't have so much personal experience with it, but I wanted to, add it to nevertheless. On the 3rd of October, there's the German national holiday and it's called "Tag der Deutschen Einheit". It's the day of the German union or unification. After the second world war East and West Germany were separated. So East Germany. kind of was controlled by Russia, and Western Germany was. The Republic of Western Germany, And then after the break of the Berlin wall, In 1989. I mean, it took some time, but that started to the events. And then after Western Germany and Eastern Germany were combined again. And this, This is celebrated on that day. That's the 3rd of October. I don't know exactly how they're celebrating it because I've never been in Germany around the time. I do see, or I have seen many Germans taking the day off, because this is a public holiday, so most people don't have to work. And sometimes it means that a lot of Germans come to Austria because many Germans like to come to Austria for shorter or longer trips. So the 3rd of October is the day of the German union, "Tag der Deutschen Einheit". And now we're getting really into the Austrian things. The 26th of October is the Austrian national holiday day. "Nationalfeiertag". So 26th of October, it's our Austrian national holiday. And there is actually a few events that happened around the 26th of October 1955 and these are what we're celebrating. So on the 25th of October, The last, allied soldier left Austria. So, Austria was on the losing side of the second world war being like into cahoots with Germany and so on. So, after the second world war for 10 years, the allies, meaning. Russia, England, the United States and France, were controlling Austria, while the government was rebuilt and so on. And, so that was going on for 10 years, until 1955, like the war was over 1945, and 1955 the last soldier left, on the 26th of October, we declared our neutrality. Wow, that is a hard word to say in German it's "immerwährende Neutralität", so everlasting neutrality. That means, that we're saying we're not going into any wars more or less. There are a few other countries in Europe that are as well, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland. I think that's it. Please correct me if I'm wrong. These are the neutral countries in Europe. They're not taking sides in wars. They're not supposed to do that. And we declared that we're not doing that. So that's why the 26th of October is our national holiday. We do have a military we're neutral, but we have a military, I guess for defense purposes, and, the 26th of October is quite a big display, of the military. So like, there's this huge place in Vienna called the Heldenplatz . The heroes place. It's a very beautiful place, by the way. You have a very nice park on one hand, on one side and you have. For the most part, the Imperial palace D also. The Viennese Imperial palace, which is huge. It's an entire part of the city. And that's there. I'm going to. I don't know if I manage to do it, like at the the appearance of this episode, but I'll try to do it as soon as possible, I'm going to put on my homepage pictures for things that go with this. And I have some very nice pictures of Hayden plots. And I'll try to put it in the, in the YouTube video. That's a promotional insert here. If you want to, you can also follow the podcast on YouTube, but you can follow it, pretty much anywhere where you could follow podcasts if there is any place, where you want this podcast and it's not there, please let me know. I've tried to put it anywhere where people could find it, not just a huge players like Amazon and iTunes. There's like 20 different podcasts listening places, podcast apps, where you can listen to it. But if there is any one that is dear to you, where you would like to be listening to this podcast, just let me know. I'll do my best. So that's the 26th of October. to be honest, we don't have big parades, it's not like the 4th of July in the United States. It's not like everybody's going out we're not meeting up to have a barbecue It's we know that that's what it is. Everybody learns at school, why we're having this holiday. We kind of, enjoy a time off. It's a public holiday, so most people don't work unless they work in. hospitality, so in a restaurant or a hotel, mainly, but shops are closed. By the way, that's probably not as bad in Germany, but in Austria shops are closed every Sunday, and shops are closed on public holidays. Yeah. So for example, what I told you before, what I was talking about, the harvest festivals, these are not public holidays. maybe there is regional ones, but they're not bank holidays or public holidays. However, the 26th of October is an actual public holiday, that means all schools are closed. All public offices, banks are closed, and most shops are closed. The only thing that is open, on Sundays or on holidays are a few shops for tourists, like where you can get souvenirs, gas stations are open. Usually on train stations or, on the airport, there is a few shops that are open, like small supermarkets, but the supermarkets are closed. So that's what I mean, when I say it's a public public holiday. So that's what we do on the 26th of October, pretty much we enjoy having a public holiday. Some people like to go. so the places where there is. military displays and you can look at tanks or helicopters and things like that, there are usually some flight shows. But in my family, we we're just having a day off, basically. On the last Sunday of October, we have the time change we call it, "Zeitumstellung", or actually the changing of the clocks. So, we change the time, or the clocks two times a year. Once in the last weekend of October. Or the last Sunday of October and once on the last Sunday of March. I think it's outdated, I'm not the only one that does. The original idea was to, to save money on electricity, but, there are scientific studies and it's, it's pointless. So on the 31st of October, obviously is Halloween. Now Halloween, as it is celebrated in in the United States, like people dressing up and doing trick or treating and things like that, that is a relatively new development in Austria. Like when I was a kids, we didn't do that at all. My first contact with Halloween personally was probably when I was the first time in the United States. So. Basically. Until like 25 years ago or something. There wasn't much going on in Austria with Halloween and it has become a more usual thing. So people do dress up, it's more just the spooky thing, because we have something else, where people dress up and this is "Fasching". "Fasching" or carnival. I, you probably have heard of carnival it's, in the United States locally, but it's not a national thing. However in Austria, we have "Fasching", carnival. It starts on the 11th of November. I'm going to talk about that. Once I'm there in my date list. So if people dress up for Halloween, it's pretty much exclusively like as witches, devils. Demons, or anything, spooky ghosts, things like that. There is no big trick or treating thing. Actually, I've never seen anybody personally trick or treating. We do have a holiday around that time. Meaning on the 1st of November, So 1st of November in German is "Allerheiligen". And that would be all Hallows. If you look where the word Halloween comes from, It's a version of all Hallows Eve. So an all Hallows is an old English or an older English way of saying all saints. And, that's exactly what "Allerheiligen" means "all saints". So that is a holiday on the 1st of November. It's also a public holiday. So another day, just a week, pretty much, later from the 26th of October, where everything is closed and what many people do traditionally on that day is, they go and visit the cemeteries, they visit their deceased relatives or dear ones on the cemeteries. Not everybody in Austria does that, of course, but it's a big thing a lot of people do visit. the graves of their deceased relatives. I think from my observation, generally, this is more. a thing that like older people do. So that's the 1st of November. What for many people the tradition is now between the 26th of October and the 1st of November. In recent years, like really recent years schools have started to have an autumn break. so. Around that time, there was a week or even 10 days off So many people use it to take a short break, take holidays, particularly people with, that have kids that are in school age because they don't have school around that time. So, the next thing coming up in that area, we're really going play by play here is the 11th of November. So the 11th of November is not a public holiday. However, there's quite a lot of things going on and starting around the time. So first of all, it's called "Martinstag". So the day of St. Martin of the, of the Saint Martin, I'm not going to go into the story of St. Martin. I just want to say so much: a lot of these days, or some of these days, they're named after saints, because in the Catholic tradition, and Austria is traditionally a Catholic country, Germany is more protestant. So there is a few traditions that are a little different, but in Austria, all the saints have a day. This is assigned to them, that is usually their birthday or their dying date. So if you look at the calendar in Austria, very often, you find names written next to the date. And in case you ever wonder, these are the days when the saints in the Catholic religion are being celebrated. So very often when we refer to special days, not necessarily only in a religious context, we refer to it by the names of these saints. So the 11th of November is "Martini" or "Martinstag", the day of the "Saint Martin". And, there are many, many different traditions that're connected to this. So one of the traditions is that on that day, or not even only on that day, but usually in a week, or even in the weeks around that. we like to eat. a "Martinsgans". So "Gans" is a goose. So we eat a festive meal, that is not dissimilar to Thanksgiving, actually. but we don't eat turkeys, we eat geese and it's not exactly a light meal, because geese are relatively fat, That's kind of more heavy than Turkey, but anyway, it can be very good if it's well done, it's very good. And the traditional meal is this goose and, red cabbage, we eat red cabbage. It's kind of like. Sauerkraut, but in red and not sour. I don't know if that makes sense. So it's made by red cabbage, cabbage comes in different colors, one of them is red. and it's called red cabbage "Rotkraut", in some areas in, in Germany, particularly, we also call "Blaukraut" that means blue cabbage. And then with this, goose and cabbage we like to eat dumplings. "Knödel". There's a lot of different variations, but the two that I know the best or I've seen the most are "Kartoffelknödel" or "Erdäpfelknödel", so these are potato dumplings, or "Semmelknödel". "Semmel", is a piece, it's a roll, it's a small piece of white bread. And, when this is dried up, basically in order to not have things go to waste, we make different things out of it, among other things you can make dumplings out of it. So these are "Semmelknödel", they're actually quite tasty. So that's the traditional food. Most people that I know now, they will go to a traditional restaurants that will serve "Martinigans", and you actually see the lot in traditional restaurants. So I think most people these days, if they do that, they go to the restaurant and have this nice meal. And it's not really a family tradition. However, another very cute traditional actually, and that is definitely a family tradition, is "der Laternenumzug". So, a "Laterne" is a lantern. So little kids in kindergarten or in school, they will usually make their own lanterns out of paper. When I was small, we used to use real candles. Now we don't use real candles for, because it's a fire hazard. I think that's a good thing. And we made our own little lanterns and we were walking around with these lanterns on a little stick and we were singing. And it's very cute. It's actually one of the first memories I have in my life. So we were all going around, and singing this song about walking around with our little lantern. And that's something that we do on this 11th of November. And there used to be a tradition of having big fires. and at some point that tradition, was forbidden in some areas. And I think these lanterns are what is leftover from that tradition. on that day, we're still on the 11th of November, which by the way, is not a public holiday, everybody works there. It's the official beginning of the carnival. It actually starts on the 11th of November at 11:00 AM and 11 minutes. So, 11.11. 11:11. That's the 11th of the 11th. That's how we say the 11th of November, 11 Uhr 11 11 o'clock and 11 minutes 11.11, 11:11. That is when carnival starts. Now carnival. as I said, Starts on that day. I don't know if you have no idea about carnival basically it's a time from the middle of November until. February, middle of February, beginning of March, The exact ending it's determined of the date when Easter is in that year. and I think only catholic countries probably have that tradition. Because even though a lot of things that are happening in that time are not Catholic at all. and actually most of the traditions predate the Catholic tradition, they're older than caseloads system. However, some point they were merged so much into the Catholic calendar, that I think they only exist in, in countries that are that are catholic. So anyway, on the 11th of November, it starts, there are different traditions alive, and I think that's very nice. we have a lot of things, people are dressing up, we have a lot of parties. However most children's carnival parties, they're usually like after Christmas in January and February. But still, carnival will actually starts in November and is interrupted only by the Christmas holidays. In the Austrian Alpine areas and some part of the German Alpine areas, you have something called "Perchtenläufe". So "Perchten", there is nice and ugly versions of that, but they're considered demons or ghosts. And they have them, like they're doing floats, they're doing, parades. of these "Perchten". And for example, I'm in the "Salzkammergut" area. Like. "Ausseer" area that's an mountain area in the mountains of Styria, Upper Austria and Salzburg. And in that area, they have a tradition of parades with these "Perchten". And variations of them. And these, as far as I can tell, they're representing. ghosts or demons anyway there are groups that are parading and it's pretty wild and exciting. And that's the carnival, time. In the city, carnival or "Fasching", we call it "der Fasching", it's mainly about having parties, having a good time, dressing up, maybe dreaming a little bit of what could be. and it's probably the biggest for kids. Not all adults go to a carnival party. It's been quite a while that I was the last time. On a carnival party. but I used to go a lot when I was a kid and we had carnival in school and in kindergarten and with friends and so on. And people can dress up as everything. And they will usually more dress up in things they consider is like their heroes or something, they really like. So, they will dress up as princesses or as firemen, or as, I don't know, probably in the, in the more modern days as Marvel characters. and things like that. So, That's that's what we have for Fasching, I wanted to add it, because it does officially start at the 11th of November. but these kinds of parties in Vienna after the new year. However, there is other parts of Austria and Germany, where Fasching is starting to be, there is a pun intended, quite a serious thing in November. It's it's the time when people are going crazy and they have their own traditions of like, parties with sort of like comedic parts and they're making, there's a lot of making fun of, of politics and politicians and people in power around that time and then there's traditions with different parades and different figures. One last thing that starts on the 11th of November and that's connected with carnival and Fasching and that's very Viennese. That's the beginning of the ball season. So a ball is a formal party. It's a formal dance, where people, in older days used to just ballroom dance in modern days, you usually have a big mixture of dances, but still it's ballroom dancing. And then many people like to go to balls, not everybody dances on a ball. But there is a big tradition of balls and they really start on the 11th of November. And the season again goes until The middle of February or beginning of March. and, in Vienna we have about 450 balls, every year, some of them are really famous. The world famous, like the Vienna state opera ball. Is world famous and I think they even export it to the United States, there's a Viennese opera ball now, or there used to be. In New York. I haven't been to any of them because for my taste, this particular one is a little bit too formal, but I have been to other balls and it's a very nice. activity, if you like that kind of thing. And, we have a lot of beautiful buildings in Vienna. And most balls are held in one of those beautiful buildings. And it is quite an experience to spend, an evening in like in the ballroom where you have these, beautiful traditional buildings, people are dressed up in nice dresses and, suits and you dance. It's nice, most of these balls have live music. And as I said, I don't think that they're super stiff. And even if you don't like to ballroom dance or you don't know how to ballroom dance, it is quite an experience So that season starts also on the 11th of November. And now we're through with what's happening on the 11th of November. It's quite an exciting day. I have to say. What we have, in the middle of November, so right after this 11th, of November. The first Christmas markets are starting. So, and Christmas lightings will go up. In Austria, I think we have a tendency to start many of the Christmas markets even earlier than in Germany. Most places in Germany, don't start a Christmas markets until the end of November. So we start our Christmas markets at the middle of November. So basically when everything in the us is in the full things, giving mood, we're already in the Christmas side of life. And until the end of November, all of the Christmas markets in Vienna have opened. We have about 15 Christmas markets in Vienna, that's just the bigger ones. I think there's like you will find different booths on all sorts of places, but the bigger markets there are about 15 and some of them are very, very nice. So, as this has become such a long episode, I'm going to leave you on this extreme cliffhanger, of the information about all the Christmas markets in Austria. I've decided to split this episode in 2. We're pretty much at the half of it. I will publish the second part of this. holiday season special very soon, definitely before Christmas. The episode 14 will come next Thursday. So stay tuned. Together with the second part of the, of this episode, there will be a freebie, which is a PDF. It's a downloadable PDF. I'm just remodeling the whole freebie delivery on my homepage or actually it's going to be on my homepage then. So stay tuned. I hope you've liked what you heard so far. And happy Thanksgiving if you're in the US or if you're American or Canadian, and celebrate Thanksgiving. Happy holidays, do, well, wherever you are. And I hope to hear you soon. And definitely. come back next Thursday, because with that next day posole, where I'm going to talk about movies and which movies to watch to learn German, to help you on your German learning experience, there will be also a great freebie, which is an interactive guide, that will help you to find movies that you can watch. so, see you then! Thank you for listening to this episode. You can find a transcript of this episode at www. bettergerman. info and slash and then the number of the episode. You can also sign up for a newsletter there and then you will be informed when there is a new episode coming or any other important events going on, new articles, new freebies or... things like that. If you liked it and, it was helpful for you, please share it with other people and let them know that this exists. And if you are looking for a course and you want to learn German online, then you can, of course, find all the infos as well on www. bettergerman. info. So, see you there and see you in the next episode. Bye bye!


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