I know this blog post is nearly one month late but better late then never, right?
As most of you know I spent Christmas with Peter and Rita Wiens and their lovely family (Luka, Max, Noah and Sarah) in the small city of Lage, Germany which is located about 2.5 hours east of Cologne. When I came to Europe for the first time four years ago, the Wiens family welcomed me into their home with open arms and told me I would always be welcome at their house. This time was no different. I can’t describe how loving and welcoming this family is. Although I’ve only met them 2 times (not counting the time they came to visit Canada when I was only a few years old) it feels as if we have known each other for ages and I am so thankful that I can feel at home thousands of kilometres away from my real home in Canada.
The first night I arrived in Germany the family and I went to a true German Christmas market in the nearby city of Bielefeld. I have heard a lot about German Christmas markets over the years so it was nice to actually experience one for real. It was crowded, cold and there were so many delicious German specialties which really added to the Christmas atmosphere.
Throughout the time I was in Germany we attended church, met with family, exchanged gifts and again, ate a lot of food. I must say – the food really was exceptional. We had amazing homemade Mennonite food, all the meat one could hope for, and the Wiens’ introduced me to their traditional Christmas Eve raclette which can only be described as an individual way for people to grill their own meat while sitting at the dinner table. Delish!
Christmas is celebrated a bit differently in Germany than it is celebrated in Canada. On Christmas Eve families spend their time together and exchange gifts. On Christmas morning no gifts are opened (except those from the extended family) and this is the time where you meet up with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and celebrate all together. It was cool meeting the whole Wiens family. We are quite closely related and I think that it is nice that we have a connection despite us living on two different continents. I also appreciate the extent that everyone went to make me feel so welcome. Thank you!
While I was visiting Germany I had the chance to visit my friend Nora at her house. Nora is a friend I met four years ago while working in Sweden and as it turned out she didn’t live too far from the Wiens’. We spent the weekend together just catching up while touring a few small towns closer to her house. It was so nice to see her again and I am looking forward to seeing her again when she visits me in Rome (girl – you have no choice. VISIT ME!).
New Years Eve this year was quiet but fun. Noah and Peter made the girls (Rita, Sarah and me) hamburgers, bruschetta and chocolate cake while waiting on our every need like proper gentlemen. We brought in the new year with fireworks that lasted nearly half an hour (who would have known that such a small town would be SO enthusiastic about fireworks?!)and shortly after I went to bed.
Going to Germany for Christmas was an excellent experience. I was able to spend Christmas with family and friends who love and care for me. I was able to take a break from Italy for a bit and be in a culture which is more similar to mine. I was able to relax and have a break from my job, something I really needed.
Thank you Wiens family for your hospitality. I hope to see you soon – this time in Canada maybe?