- Created on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:06
- Written by Christine Beech
Level-B2 to C1 Advanced
Now normally it's fair to say that we Brits aren't big on things German: we prefer France and Spain for our holidays, croissants to pumpernickel and the Costas to Cologne. That is until the festive season, when an invasion of all things German breaks out on the streets of Blighty.
Suddenly the streets of Birmingham echo to voices from Frankfurt and Friedrichshafen, and the city centre is colonized overnight by wooden huts straight out of a Grimm's fairy tale, lit by countless flickering candles in glass holders showing snowy scenes of forests and mountains, that in no way resemble the slushy, muddy lanes of England in the winter.
Midlanders, who would normally turn up their noses at anything more foreign than a Balti from their favourite curry house turn out of the office early to nibble on a bratwurst ( bearable, after all it's a hot-dog really), and some Gluwein ( it's alcolhol, so who cares?).
So who is to blame for this bizarre Germanification of the Christmas season? Well it was royalty of course- Queen Victoria in fact- and because she fell madly in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, we all have to vacuum up the needles from under the tree every December. In 1841 Albert had a Christmas tree imported from Germany, decorated with real candles, and it was placed in Windsor castle to the wonderment of all. A picture of this heart-warming scene, the royal family ( they had nine children) all gathered around the exotic tree, covered in candles, baubles and tinsel was published in the 'Illustrated London News' in 1848. It was a 'Hello' magazine moment. Everyone wanted to celebrate like celebrities, and the Christmas industry was born. You too can turn your hovel into a castle, just add a tree and all the trimmings! Even the Americans got in on the act, after a similar illustration was published in America, with the royal crowns removed from the heads of the Queen and Prince of course.
Now we want all things German to make our Xmas special- we want the tree, the alpine huts, the wooden toys, the candles and even the bratwurst. Just don't bring the snow. Or the sauerkraut.
Pumpernickel-a type of heavy German bread
Costas-the Spanish coasts
Blighty- a nickname for Britain
to colonize- to take over a place, often another country
flickering-an intermittent, unsteady light
Balti- a special curry cooked in Birmingham
to nibble- to eat in small bites
heart-warming ( adjective)
baubles- round decorations to hang on a Christmas tree
tinsel -shiny decoration for Christmas
fairy lights- the small lights used to decorate at Christmas and parties
hovel- a very poor house like a shed