Planning a Trip to Europe

In a few months, I will be going back to Europe for the third time! The past two times I went to Europe, I traveled to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark. This time I will be going to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, and France. 

So far, I’ve traveled to 13 countries. After this trip, though, I will have traveled 17 countries in total. Right now, I’m still currently in the process of planning the trip. Some of the places I’ll be revisiting and some of the places are going to be completely new to me. I’m not going to say exactly where I’m going just yet. I’ll leave that for after I come back and can post pictures. 

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Pryanik: Russian Spice Cookies

Pryanik (Пряник) are Russian spice cookies. It is sweetbread filled with spices, marmalade, sweetened condensed milk, or caramelized milk. The spices used can be cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom. It is often served as a snack with tea or coffee. The city of Tula is most famous for Pryanik. In fact, Tula even has its own museum dedicated to these cookies.

They come in many shapes and sizes, so they can be as simple or as elegant and nicely designed as you want them to be.

pryanik

Tylskuu pranik

Meine Ehre heißt Treue

So earlier today, I had the privilege to help out with the Battle of the Bulge re-enactment. I was walking through some of the German barracks and other German buildings, when I noticed a sign that read, “Meine Ehre heißt Treue.” I became very curious about this (of course), so I decided to look it up.

*Note-the ß in heißt is NOT a capitalized b (B). The ß is the German letter eszett, which is used for the double s (heißt=heisst).

Meine Ehre heißt Treue means My honor is loyalty.  Literally, Meine Ehre heißt Treue means My honor is called loyalty. However, this is actually an idiom that non-native Germans will not understand (myself included.) If my honor is loyalty does not make sense to you, think of it as For me, my honor is my loyalty or my honor is my dignity.

Meine Ehre heißt Treue was the motto for the German Schutzstaffel (also known as SS), which was used to pledge their oath to Adolph Hitler. Brief background information: The Schutzstaffel was a special (and elite) military unit that was formed in April 1925 (in Germany) by Hitler and the Nazi Party, so Hitler could use the men as his personal bodyguards.

I’m not going to go in depth about this, because World War II is a huge topic to talk about. There’s a lot of history with it, and it’s history that we all ought to learn-even minor things like the meaning behind words. Go out and explore the world, you never know what you will see, who you will run into, what you will experience, or what you will learn.

Saint Nicholas’ Day/Der Nikolaustag

Today, December 6th, is St. Nicholas’ Day/Der Nikolaustag. So here’s some brief information/history about St. Nicholas’ Day.

St. Nicholas’ Day is celebrated annually in Germany (and other European countries) on December 6th. St. Nicholas/Sankt Nikolaus is portrayed to be the Bishop of Myra and it is said that his companion is (dark, scary-looking) Knecht Ruprecht. Knecht Ruprecht would wear a tattered robe and carry around a large sack. A legend has it that he would stuff all the naughty children in the sack.

St. Nicholas was the patron of children, students, teachers, bakers, merchants, and sailors. He is also credited with performing miracles on December 6th and also, he was known for his gift-giving to children. German-speaking countries celebrate and feast these miracles to honor him.

Saint Nicholas’ Day Tradition-The evening of December 5th, kids will put their shoes outside their doors (or windows) and St. Nicholas will come put chocolate, goodies, & small toys for the good children and coal for the bad children. Then on December 6th, the little boys and girls will discover their presents (or coal).

I remember back in 2nd grade, my 2nd grade teacher did this with us. I can still remember the little brown bear I found in my shoe and the excitement I felt afterwards. Culture is all around us and you never know how much cultures will intrigue you, unless you take time to experience them.