Better German Podcast with Susi

Susanne Schilk-Blümel

Episode 16 - Festivals and Holidays in Austria in Winter Part 2

Vienna Christmas Markets and Winter Traditions: Snow, Lights, and Festive Celebrations

2023-12-14 28 min

Description & Show Notes

This is an episode about festivals and holidays in autumn and winter in Austria. It is the second part of the episode and the focus is on the time before Christmas and Christmas in Vienna. The host, Susi Blümel, talks about the weather, traditions, and experiences related to these festivals and holidays. She also mentions other events such as Advent, St. Nicholas Day, and New Year's Eve. The episode includes a word list with translations and suggestions for learning German words related to the topic.

Austrian Winter Festivals: Christmas Markets, Snowy Days, and New Year's Celebrations
In this episode of the Better German podcast, Susi Blümel explores the varied festivals and holidays celebrated in Austria, specifically Vienna, from autumn through to New Year. She paints a vivid picture of the beloved Christmas markets in Vienna, filled with arts, traditional items, and a variety of food and drinks. Susi provides insight into the weather during this time, from the rarity of snow to the typical temperatures experienced, as well as sharing a personal experience of a romantic snowy day at a renowned Christmas market. She delves into the cultural and religious significance of the four Sundays before Christmas, known as Advent, discussing the traditional customs such as lighting candles on a wreath. Additionally, Susi offers an overview of other holidays and special days celebrated during this time, such as Niccolo and the significance of December 21st. The episode culminates with a delightful list of words in both German and English related to these traditions and holidays, encouraging listeners to join in and practice. So, let's get into the festive spirit and explore the enchanting traditions of autumn and winter in Austria with Susi Blumel.

Key Topics and Bullet Points
Primary Topic: Festivals and Holidays in Austria
- Christmas Markets in Vienna
  - Locations and number of Christmas markets
  - Offerings and attractions at the markets
  - Traditional beverages and food
  - Weather and ambiance at the markets
- Advent and Pre-Christmas Traditions
  - Advent wreaths and candles
  - Observance of the 4 Sundays before Christmas
  - Fasting and preparation for the arrival of Jesus Christ
  - Non-religious aspects of Advent; reflection on values and traditions
- December Holidays and Celebrations
  - Saint Nicholas Day (Niccolo)
  - Traditional gift-giving and treats
  - Public holiday on 8th December and its significance
  - Winter solstice and its cultural relevance
- Christmas and New Year's Eve
  - Celebration of Christmas in Austria on the 24th and 25th December
  - Family gatherings and traditions
  - Typical Christmas meal traditions
  - New Year's Eve celebrations and traditions, also known as Silvesta
- Significance of Days and Months
  - December as the darkest month and the beginning of winter
  - The transition from December to spring
  - Traditional customs associated with the coldest months
- Language and Learning 
  - German language words and their English translations
  - Suggested learning methods for language learners
- Podcast and Upcoming Episodes
  - Promotional content for other podcast episodes
  - Encouragement for audience engagement and feedback  
The podcast episode covers a range of topics related to festivals and holidays in Austria, focusing on the traditions, cultural practices, and celebrations during autumn and winter in Vienna. It provides insights into the ambiance of Christmas markets, pre-Christmas preparations, specific holiday observances, cultural significance of days and months, language learning opportunities, and promotion of the podcast and its episodes.


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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 second part of the episode about festivals and holidays in autumn, winter in Austria, mainly Australia, mainly Vienna, to be honest. in this episode, I'm going to talk a little bit about the Christmas markets. In Vienna, what you can expect weather wise. And what you can expect to see on these, Christmas markets actually, like what is going on there? a little bit about the weather. And, the traditions in that time. Up until new years, actually a little bit after that. And then at the end, you're going to get a word list from me about. Many of those words that I have mentioned there and their translations. And you can learn those words right there. 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. You will find different booths on all sorts of places, but the bigger markets are about 15 and some of them are very, very nice. They have like arts and traditional things that you would pretty much only get on a Christmas market. They have a lot of food you can drink booze, of course. The tradition is to drink basically hot sweetened wine and and other things. You have big Christmas trees up, very nice lighting. People sometimes ask me that, we very rarely have snow in December. So even though these Christmas markets are nice, we usually don't have snow around that time. The temperatures of course they can be very different, but the temperatures, it's not warm, it could be quite windy. Currently it's between 5 and 10 degrees during the day, and it can go down to zero at night. So this is degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit. In case you were wondering, we use Celsius in Austria and most of Europe. Also about the weather. It's ironic because I just said that it's usually not cold. And I recorded this episode originally a few weeks ago. And quite shortly after I recorded it originally, we had a big winter start in Vienna. We haven't had such a big amount of snow. in November, I think it was even before the beginning of December, in a long time, I really don't remember when was the last time, so it can happen, it can be snowy also around that time, but it's not the rule. So it's getting cool. But usually it doesn't snow in December. I've once had this super nice experience of meeting with a very good friend who was visiting from Australia, he used to live in Austria, but then he had already left for some years and we met. He was in Vienna for one day and we decided to meet on the Christmas market. And just when we arrived, and we were in one of the most famous, or if not the most famous Christmas market in Austria. It's right in in front of the the Viennese Mayor's House, "das Rathaus" is the word for it, for the mayor's house. You have the Christmas market there, but to the left and right of it, there is a very nice park. And this park is also lit up and you even have the possibility to go ice skating right there. So anyway, we arrived there, and then it started to snow and it was beautiful, big, soft snow flakes. Snowing can be very different, but at that day they were just like in the movie they were coming down. I think I've only ever once, really experienced this beautiful kind of snow. It was very romantic. However, to be very honest, it's not the usual case. So if you come to Vienna, be prepared for beautiful sites, beautiful lighting, very nice Christmas markets. I would advise you to be careful with the booze, not just for obvious reasons, but also, it's sometimes extremely sweet. And it's also standing there for a long time. So, yeah, I don't drink that too much, even though it's very tasty. Yes, but realize, depending on where you come from, it's cold, even though it's not usually going down to zero degrees, it can be very windy. Be prepared, bring your gloves, bring a good coat, bring a good hat. Good. So the Christmas markets in Vienna by the way are open until the 26th of December. some continue to be a smaller version and sell good luck charms for new year's Eve, which is called Silvester in Austria. However, before we jump into Christmas and New Years the four Sundays before Christmas. So Christmas is being celebrated or is celebrated in Austria on the 24th of December. So, actually it's from the 24th, to the 26th of December. But probably the biggest thing is the 24th of December, which is Christmas Eve. And we give our presents on Christmas Eve. However, before the 24th. the four Sundays before that are what is called and the whole time is called Advent, "der Advent".. I'm not sure if that is a tradition anywhere but in the German speaking area, to be honest, I'm pretty sure it's not a tradition in the United States. Let me know if it's a tradition in your country. And, from a religious point of view, it's a time where people are fasting and they're preparing for the arrival of Jesus Christ on the 24th of December. I'm not a Catholic person and I didn't really grow up Catholic, but still, Advent for us is also for us, for our family, and I think for many other families in Austria, that maybe are not super religious, but still feel connected to tradition of Christmas, it's kind of a time where you try first of all mnt let buying of, christmas presents, rush, craziness, completely overtake your life. And it should be a time where people like consider their values, consider what is important for them in that part of the tradition, which is also a Catholic tradition, I think is a very nice one. But, on the less, spiritual, but more physical part of that tradition, we have "Adventkränze". So a "Kranz" is a wreath. So an "Adventkranz" is a wreath for "Advent". "Advent" is the time, and it's. It's the, it's basically the time of the advent. It's like the time when people are expecting the return of Jesus. And the wreath is made of the branches of a fir tree or or a spruce, or something like that. So one of the trees that are traditionally used also for Christmas trees, and out of the branches of the same tree, we also make wreaths, that we put up before Christmas. And there's one candle for all of the four Sundays before Christmas and on every Sunday you light one more candle. So sometimes these Christmas wreaths, in German, we call it "Adventskranz", in English they call it Christmas wreath. So every Sunday we light one more of those candles. That's why sometimes these candles have four different lengths, by the way. So, that's one of the things that is happening before Christmas. Now we're in December, okay. The first "advent-Sunday", so der 1. Adventsonntag is very often in November, but this year it's actually on the 3rd of December. Because the fourth Adventsonntag, the fourth Sunday of the advent, this year is Christmas Eve, the 24th. So anyways, so that's what many people do not, not necessarily with a catholic point of view, but, they do it. of course there is also Hannuka in that time. there's still quite a few Jewish families in Austria. Technically, my family's part Jewish, but the part of the family where I grew up, we didn't really have, the Jewish traditions. Okay, so what else do we have And then on the 6th of December, there is Niccolo. That is probably something you can relate to because it's actually the day of St. Nicholas, which became in the English speaking area Santa Claus. So it's actually the commemorative day of the Saint where Santa Claus, the tradition of Santa Claus, is coming from. And that was a. holy man, a Bishop, actually, a Christian Bishop, It was Nikolaus from Myra, and he died somewhere between 350 or 360. And he's a very famous holy man, and I don't want to go into his story, but the tradition of giving presence goes back to him because he, that's the thing that is being told, he used to take care of particularly children that were in need. And he lived in, would-would be Turkey today. So the 6th of December, this is actually his day, and we have the Niccolo. So by the way, this is also not a public holiday, but it's a traditional thing that kids get a little bag of things. These are small things. When I was a kid, we would get peanuts. And, tangerines. And dried figs and dried prunes and maybe some sweets, a little bit of marzipan and a chocolate Niccolo, like this guy in chocolate, and some more chocolates, probably. So that's what we would get, and that's still pretty much the tradition to make little bags of goodies, not too unhealthy, I mean, Hey, there are nuts in there and tangerines and so on, to give to the children. that's on the 6th of December. And it's very nice. On the 8th of December we have a bank holiday, it's a Catholic holiday and there is a whole set of Catholic traditions connected to it. Many people are just like for them it's a day off. However, what is special about that day, is that on the 8th of December, that's the only, day that I'm aware of, that is technically a bank holiday, so banks are closed, offices are closed, but most shops are open. That's so people can do Christmas shopping. And then, one other thing that is kind of happening around that time was on the 21st of December. That's the day where we have the shortest day light and the longest night. So we have about 16 hours of night and eight hours of day. And that's the shortest and from that day on, days are becoming longer. So, december is not the coldest month. The coldest months are actually January, February, but it's the darkest month. And then after that, the days are becoming longer and when the days have become longer, the sun is getting more and more, and that's what starts the spring. And also the 21st of December, it's actually only the beginning, the official beginning of winter. So, autumn starts on the 21st of, September, Usually up until the 21st of September is pretty much summary. Can be different, but it's pretty much summer. This year, I think it was even longer. And then, maybe October usually is kind of autumn and November. I would very much consider already winter. However, officially winter only starts on the 21st of December. And then we have Christmas from the 24th to the 26th of December. And, most people celebrate with their families on the 24th of December. This is very much a family feast. Sometimes people maybe meet friends as well, but traditionally this is a family thing. And up until like, I don't know, 20 years ago, there weren't even any restaurants open. So people only had the chance pretty much to celebrate with their families. Now restaurants do have open. so we celebrated in our family and then usually people have more parts of the family and they can't celebrate with all of them at the same time. So usually on the 25th and the 26th, they would go to the other parts of the family, where they haven't been before, for example, on the 24th of December, we very often we would celebrate, just the family, the immediate family, my parents, my sister, once she was born, because she's a few years younger than I am. And, then on the 25th, We would go to one of my grand parents and on the 26th to the other grandparents. Or sometimes one of the grandparents was with us and we would go visit the others on the 25th. So for example, now, In my family. It's usually my parents, my father, my sister. her partner and me on the 24th. And then on the 25th, we like me and my husband, we're going to visit his, parents. And it's similar for, many families. To do it that way. What do we eat? There are different traditions of what people eat on the 24th. for many people, it's actually fish. However, there are other there's even a traditional, like quite a lot of people that I know that would eat sausage. Like traditional actually Wiener. Vienna sausage. I don't know, I haven't experienced that personally. We don't, for the past, I don't know, 15 years or so. In our family, we have we've started to eat fondue. And I think we will stick with it because we would really like it. And then the last thing, because I said, I'm going to go on until the end of the year is new year's Eve new year's Eve in German is called Silvester. that's the 31st. Silvester is party time. So, many people will go out, have parties with their friends, probably also with their families. Most years, I have celebrated with friends, or if I felt more for a little quiet, I actually stayed at home with my husband, but that's not so much of a tradition. I think usually the traditional thing is to just go out and party, and to do that. Actually this year, I'm going to spend new year's Eve in the United States and for sure, with a party. So I'm looking forward to that. And, before we end off this episode, which has become quite long, but I'm going to leave it like that, I am going to give you a list of words and by the way, there is a freebie for this episode. That is a list of those events that are just told you. with the name, the translation to English the date and maybe some notes. And there is also a list of words that I'm going to give to you right now in German and in English, so you have to translation, that are connected to this all. It's not all of the words. That you could connect with this, but there is quite a few of them. I hope you enjoy this episode. It was impromptu. Let me know if you like it. It's not only about Germany, even though you get a lot of German words as well. It's a little bit more about the tradition. I hope you find it interesting. I will try to upload pictures, that I have the, give you a little bit more of an idea to my homepage. So you can find the homepage, of this episode, on better, And you will find links to everything else in there. You will find links to the freebie there, which is the list of the words that you can download the list of words that are connected to this episodes. It's a list of nouns. And you will also find the links to where you can see pictures. I, because I just realized recording, I hadn't planned to do this. But now doing the recording for this episode, I realized I should show you some pictures, I should show you some pictures of, of Vienna with decorations and maybe some Christmas market pictures and things like that. So. I'll try to do that as well. I want to once more tell you about episode number 14, and this is an episode about how to learn German or help you learn German or support your German learning experience, by watching movies or TV shows with subtitles. This is something that can be super entertaining. and you will learn sort of without noticing it. You can do more or less around this if you want to, but I highly suggest to just have a go at it. And there is a very cool freebie that I'm very proud of, also being released, when that episode is going live. And it's an interactive guide. There's all of the films that I'm mentioning in this episode, and by the way, I'm covering Netflix, Amazon. Disney plus and YouTube and I'm giving you a few suggestions for every one of those platforms. However, in the interactive guide, you will find way more and I keep adding things to them. So all of these platforms have now original German movies with subtitles and there's very different Genres. You will find everything, from comedies to romantic movies, to documentaries, like current interesting documentaries. geography documentaries, science fiction. I'm trying to cover as many different things. So everyone will find something that is interesting in there. And you will get my interactive guide where you can look for level that that I suggest is for, because there's different levels of difficulty and also the subtitles that are available and where it is, and so on. I'll explain this a little bit more in the next episode, and I'll also give you all of my tips, not just which movie to watch, but also on what you can do to get the most out of it and how you can incorporate this very fun way of improving your German or learning German into your life. Okay, so let's get started. I definitely suggest you to listen to this word list with the PDF. So download, go to that homepage and download the PDF. Because otherwise, it's probably hard to follow. So I'm just going to say the words one time in German, and then in English, if you want to practice these more than I suggest to repeat it, and I suggest you to use these words in sentences. If you are coming into one of my courses, there's courses coming up next year, you can subscribe to my newsletter and then you will be Informed once they're coming up, but the courses are coming up next year, and then you will, of course learn all the details of how to learn your words. But you can also follow my podcast and I'm giving you quite a few tips on how to learn new words. I'm saying the word in English and the translation. I encourage you to repeat it with me. And if you want to actually learn these words, then I encourage you to play it back a couple of times and keep repeating it. And then practice it, try to make sentences. If you speak some German already, you can try putting these into German. If you don't speak any German at all, you can even make English sentences and just use that one word in German. And then you will see that you will start recognizing those words and it's a start. Okay. Here we go. So repeat all of these words after me. die Ernte harvest. der Dank gratitude, thankfulness. das Fest festival, party. das Erntedankfest harvest festival. feiern to celebrate. die Feier celebration. die Familienfeier family celebration. die Neutralität neutrality. das Allerheiligen holiday on 1st Nov (all hallow) der September September. der Oktober October. der November November. der Dezember December. die Gans goose das Gansl goose das Rotkraut red cabbage das Blaukraut red cabbage der Knödel dumpling die Kartoffel potatoe die Semmel roll little small white bread der Kartoffelknödel potatoe dumpling der Semmelknödel dumpling made from white bread der Ball ball, formal party die Ballsaison ball season der Staatsvertrag State treaty das Dirndl Austrian traditional dress also, girl der Fasching carnival die Laterne lantern die Zeitumstellung changing of the clocks das Weihnachten Christmas der Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas market das Christkind baby Jesus der Christkindlmarkt Christmas market das Geschenk present die Weihnachtsbeleuchtung Christmas lighting der Nikolo St Niklaus. Okay. So these were all the words. If you haven't done, go and download your PDF with this list, and you will also find the list of all of the events that I was mentioning in there. By the way, if you haven't heard the episode five of this podcast, which is an introduction to articles, maybe you're wondering why I would always say "die Ernte" or "das whatever". So I would always say the article with the word. In that episode, you will hear why, because basically when you learn German, you should always learn the correct article with the words. In there you get a little bit of an introduction If you haven't heard that episode, I definitely suggested to listen to it. It could clear up what are these articles, what do they mean and why do you have to learn them? And are they just made up to torture students of the German language or what's up with them? ? If you have a one that, that maybe that episode could help you as well. Okay, so thank you very much for listening to this episode. It has turned out a little bit long. I hope you still enjoyed it. Let me know if you did. And let me know what you want to know. And I hope I'll hear you soon and talk to you soon. Bye-bye.


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