Thursday, October 22, 2009
Berlin: eine angsteinflößende Stadt
Not a new expat sentiment, but holidays outside of the US (or wherever it is you call home) are not the easiest of times. Especially holidays that are totally ignored (or worse, incorrectly celebrated) by the rest of world. I will say that my neighborhood threw a pumpkin/squash festival (in German Kürbis is the word for both). It was fairly tame and not all that pumpkin- or squash-focused, although they were selling over-priced pumpkins and squash. My absolute favorite part was the kids running around in giant plastic bubbles. Alas, I didn't have my camera with me, but of course somebody else documented this bizarre activity at some other festival. I guess they are sort of pumpkin-shaped?
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday (after my birthday, which Germany has also yet to do justice to). So this year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and we threw a Halloween party (costumes mandatory). I have to say, I was really pleasantly shocked that almost all of our guests wore costumes (maybe the Germans take "mandatory" literally?). We had cowboys and indians, pirates and angels, Cruella DeVille, Karate Kids, James Bond, and some generally creepy-looking Krauts. And, to our great surprise, we even had a group of trick-or-treaters! They say Halloween is taking off here (and if you were a German kid, isn't it the holiday you'd want to copy?) - the costume store down the street had a line out the door for three days solid. Still, living in an apartment (as opposed to a freestanding house with a welcoming front porch light) a ways from the areas of Berlin known for high numbers of expats, we were were not prepared. We lamely offered them our bowl of unwrapped candy (gummy rats, bats, and cats) from our party buffet (it seemed like a safer choice than finger pretzels or lychee eyeballs). I think the American paranoia regarding tainted candy hasn't made it here yet and they seemed pretty excited that some fairly unimpressive costumes merits free candy.
ps. For those keeping count, my New York Times columnists in Berlin sightings count is up to three!