Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Once every five years.

Last Saturday we had a bit of a snowstorm here in Dresden, or better said (at least by my definition) a blizzard. This picture was taken at around 10 in the morning, and it kept right on snowing like that well into the evening. I'm not sure how late because I turned the day into a movie-n-junk food extravaganza, the culmination of which was falling asleep on the sofa around 8 in the evening.
So, the big question is, will we have snow on Christmas? The better part of the nearly one foot of snow which fell on Saturday has already melted (that's the beauty of living in this not so extremely cold part of Germany, although the downside is having to put up with all the slush and crud all over the sidewalks). Yesterday I was informed that in Dresden there's snow on Christmas only about every five years. Just a bit east of Dresden, in Görlitz, they have snow on Christmas once every 3 years I think it was, and in the west, in Düsseldorf, they have snow on Christmas only once every 20 years!! This is due to the various climates in these different regions of Germany.

The other big question is: how in the heck do I get my bike out of this ridiculous mess? Good thing I'm not one of those whackos who ride around in the snow, so I don't have to worry about the answer to that question until the spring.

It's beginning to look a lot like...

This should give you an idea of what a Christmas market here looks like, this is a smaller one on Hauptstraße in Dresden. I like this one better than the super famous, somewhat overdone and overpublicized Striezelmarkt on the Altmarkt because it doesn't exhaust you, the people aren't as pushy and flipped out, and they have nicer regional crafts and treats. The Striezelmarkt might be over 500 years old, but it's full of a lot of commercial junk and the shoppers are so Christmas-ed out that they're a bit like lemmings. Though I do love the spectacle of it.

Another spectacle, the larger than life Christmas pyramid, also on Hauptstraße, near Albertplatz. This thing mesmerizes me, with its lights and moving parts. To give you an idea of the size, a person is probably as tall as that light in the front, which on a normal tabletop pyramid, would be a mere candle. Oooh, this thing is really fantastic. What I'm wondering is, where do they put it the rest of the year? Do they dismantle it? How much does something like this cost, if a normal tabletop model runs around 60 Euro?

Another regional specialty, like the Christmas pyramid, is the Schwippbogen, or in English, Schwibbogen. These items are usually made of wood, and the authentic ones come from the Erzgebirge region. Apparently, back in GDR times, these things were made regionally, but mostly sold in the west, because they were too expensive for the locals. I guess this was somehow overlooked by authorities. Maybe the approximately 20% of the total production which they sold inside the GDR was convincing enough for the authorities.

The star in the window is also a typical Christmas decoration you'll find here. Not flashing, moving or playing music, it's much more understated than American Christmas decorations.

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