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Fall: you're doing it wrong, Hamburg.

By Thursday, October 23, 2014 , ,

They do fall wrong here. Usually I hate the "you're doing it wrong" click-bait headlines, but in this case it really feels apt.

First, fall started August 8th. The temperature dropped, the air was dry with a cool wind, and it smelled like Autumn. Someone across the street was even baking with a whole lot of cinnamon.

Second, there is a significant lack of fall flavours. Oh, there are some cooking pumpkins in the store, but they're Hokkaido Pumpkins (you can still make puree out of them) and no Libby's cans of pumpkin, no pumpkin beer, pumpkin pies and besides the Starbucks in the train station, no pumpkin coffee. No caramel apples, no scarecrows, no hay rides, no bumpy squashes my mom calls 'interesting' but I think look kind of gross. No apple cider, (the non alcoholic, unfiltered, spiced and hot kind), no apple picking.

The leaves do have the decency to turn color, though.

But even that doesn't make up for the dismal appearance Halloween makes. Some kids do go trick-or-treating (Suß oder Sauer /sweet or sour here, which I have to admit is a great translation), but it's not in the collective German Psyche, like it us in the US. A few decorations in shop windows to get children interested, and that's about it.

No parades, no themed parties, no sexy insert-profession-here costumes to giggle at, and absolutely no wearing costumes to work or school.

Then there's no Thanksgiving or similar holiday. The Christmas Markets start in late November, but there's no kind of seasonal celebration for Fall.

There is the National Day of Unity, October 6th, when a whole lot of nothings happens. We're supposed get the day off (it's a national holiday, but a workshop was scheduled that day anyway at work), but that's it. I've asked Germans what they do to celebrate, and they blink at me and say "drink".

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  1. Oh dear - you've just listed most of the reasons why I LOVE the way Germans do autumn! :-) The thing I missed this year were the fall colors. Where we are all the foliage was so confused it didn't know what to do. So the leaves stayed green, dried up without turning pretty, and are now falling. That was disappointing. To replace Thanksgiving, there's Martinstag (Nov. 11)! The traditional fare is Martinsgans - goose - but if we were to celebrate it, we'd do a turkey. Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving if it's not at Mom's house, though, right?

    The best part of autumn in Germany for me, though, is (now that I no longer teach in the U.S.) not having to deal with Homecoming (floats, parades, decorating, fundraiser at the football game, the football game, the dance...)!

    Your photos are beautiful!

    1. I think what I miss most of all is that between Halloween and Pumpkin Spice Everything, saying good bye to summer and hello to the impending winter just doesn't seem so bad. I'm going to try to cook some veggie thanksgiving-y food for some of my friends here, but you're right, it's not the same when it's not at mom's.

      I never went to a school that took homecoming too seriously, but I get the impression that at some other schools it's like a second prom - but for all four grades. Now that you point it out, that seems exhausting to organize!

  2. haha aw I kind of feel the same about living in the UK - but I'm personally not a bit 'autumn flavour' kind of girl, so I don't mind so much. We do have pumpkins and I forced my British boyfriend to carve one with me! At least, the colours change in Germany - in the UK it's only very slightly! That's the thing I miss most about north american fall I think!

  3. I was worried about fall in Prague, but it happened--just a little later than I hoped! And I've had a few Pumpkin Spice Lattes, so they do exist in Europe if you need a fix :)

  4. We are celebrating Erntedankfest - roughly translated as Harvest Thanking Festival - on the first Sunday in October. It's a church thing so if you are not into that, there is no Erntedankfest for you. Kindergartens and Elementary Schools usually introduce it to the kids and let them decorate the altars with whatever fall goods you can think of.
    But as it is not a commercial thing, you probably can't take any notice.

    Then there is that Halloween thing - our (protestant) Reformationstag is on the same date. So there is no Halloween tradition in Germany. 20 years ago the Reformationstag was erraded off the holiday list - allegedly to finance the German reunification... 'nuff said...
    But in true protestant manner WE still celebrate it, but with just a festive Reformationsgottesdienst at church - and some special treats and prayers.

    Enjoy your life in Germany!