ahhh, my favorite time of year is here again! and this year i’m not taking classes and studying like mad so i can really enjoy it. the first snow of the winter fell last week and boy, it was perfect. light fluffy swirling snowflakes: my favorite! got into the spirit and ordered myself an early christmas gift of this pine mason jar candle. (big candles are not a thing here)
the path from the bus stop to the plant i teach at (my usual monday and tuesday morning) also, the first place i taught last february, always in the snow. we’ve come full circle!
an excellent start of the season. we celebrated the thanksgiving holidays on friday evening instead of thursday, so we could really let our hair down. i must say, this thanksgiving was at least ten times better than last year. reason one: i cooked a whole chicken! why does everyone get so nervous about cooking poultry? it wasn’t hard, people. you too can cook your own chicken or turkey! reason two: more food! and instead of stuffing, made these lentil mushroom balls that actually tasted exactly like stuffing… only much more veggie loaded and healthy. reason three: my jello solidified this year! that may seem like it’s supposed to be a given, but last year (having been in the CR only 1.5 weeks) i bought the wrong kind of jello. this year i actually bought polish jello… all instructions were in polish– seemed like a proper nod to grandma. and reason four: there were leftovers! it’s only right. reason five: both a charlie brown’s thanksgiving and garfield’s thanksgiving were seen. reason six: board games were played following the meal. what says holidays like board games?!
i will spare you of an “i’m thankful” speech, but there is so much for us to be thankful for this year that it couldn’t even be listed. i felt such an outpouring of gratitude that i wouldn’t even know where to start.
the kuře, with roast vegetables and stuffed with fresh thyme and lemon wedges
thank you momma forys for providing this in your care package last winter! it came into excellent use. note: it is so strange to be able to follow english instructions. what a blessing.
which brings us to yesterday, the first day of the budějovice christmas market and the kick-off event: where the entire town comes out to watch the annual lighting of the tree and all of the lit fixtures around town. i had attended this event last year in prague, where they actually emceed the whole process and offered a countdown. this year…. there was no ado or announcement: they flipped a switch, the lights went on, and i blinked and missed it.
but the feeling of walking into the square with such a warm atmosphere… it truly made my heart swell. the families, the big lit tree, the holiday atmosphere, a live band playing american and traditional czech christmas songs, the multitude of glühwein stands….. it was better than a birthday.
“bethlehem”, “christmas tree”, and “baby jesus post office” – in czech republic they have ježíšek (little jesus) instead of santa claus whom they write their christmas lists to.
christmas tree in front of one of the most beautiful town halls in the world! certainly.
a word on hot mulled wine: a holiday favorite all over europe, first discovered by myself during my semester in germany, 2007. this is why it will forever be glühwein to me. here in czech republic however, it’s proper name is svařák or svarene vino. in prague they only offer this variety, similar to the german style. probably to eliminate tourist confusion and to simplify things. BUT! in south bohemia, punč (punch) is the most popular beverage, and you can try at least seven types of punč per stand (of which there are many) or the standard svařák (about three varieties) if you prefer. (a bit overwhelming, yeah?) i probably prefer punč, as it is a bit lighter– not as heavy or rich as the svařák.
one thing that i miss… commemorative ceramic mugs at german christmas markets. but at least there are candied almonds….. hallelujah!
happy day. finished breaking bad last night– can you believe the ending wasn’t spoiled for me earlier?! i’m thanking the the internet gods for that freebie. would really like to see catching fire… hopefully in the next week.
worth a note: alex had challenged himself during the month of november to write 50,000 by november 30th as part of national novel writing month or NaNoWriMo. he spent many a late night writing in the kitchen and my german studies may have suffered a little (we share one computer)… but it was worth it, because yesterday he happily finished and now has a excellent start to his first novel. i’m so proud that he followed through with this. the hardest part is to start, isn’t it? you can read a couple excerpts if you’d like at his blog.
today there is an advent market at the exhibition grounds i want to go check out… still gotta grab some lights and ornaments. this next week is a big ol’ czech childrens’ holiday tradition: mikuláš eve (st. nicholas day eve). i will certainly report back, as i will be attending this event with two of my favorite czech kiddos.