Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

The Christmas Season is in full swing, and we were greeted with snow on the 1st day of December making it all the more magical. Since then it has snowed a handful of times but not big snow, however, enough to be beautiful. Unfortunately, unlike back home, classes don’t get cancelled. It was so strange for me to see little kids at recess the day it snowed.

 

 

 

I’m missing home extra right now because everyone is finishing finals and I won’t be done until the 22nd. The exams are EXTREMELY spread out and finals for me started last week and is finishing the week after next. Although I’m not stressing out and cramming, I much prefer to get it over with as soon as possible. Someone told me they don’t feel they’ll do as good because they don’t have any pressure as opposed to if you had a shorter amount time and I think that’s very true!

Along with finals, I also have 2 group projects left.

Reflecting on this semester, If I’ve learned anything it’s how to work on a group project. I’ve become a master of google slides and google docs. Although at times it was frustrating to work in groups, at LSU it is very seldom there are group projects and I think it’s very important to learn how to work with a team. Something else I’ve enjoyed this semester is NO TEXTBOOKS. I can’t tell you how many times either myself or someone in class has asked how a topic would ever be relevant in real life. Here, as opposed to using a text book we learn topics with case studies, aka real-life. I’ve really enjoyed learning how the concepts we study in class are applicable in a real-world scenario. Plus, I’ve learned several cool facts of some of the biggest companies in the world! Also, I’ve gone on 3 field-trips! Two of which were to the European Parliament and one will be next week to the Christmas Market to conduct some marketing research for my experiential marketing class.

I’ve also enjoyed playing on the soccer team at school! We won our first game 6-2 and play again tomorrow! The girls are awesome and it’s great for me to practice my French, and they get practice in English haha. It’s a sight to see I can imagine during our games or practice when I’m yelling at them in English the whole time for runs and calling for the ball.

As for the Marché de Nöel, as much as I love the Christmas market I do feel like it’s a “go once and that’s it experience”, however, it is very pretty. This may be in part because it’s extremely cold out and there is no indoors area. One of the good things is that since there are so many surrounding villages, visiting their Christmas markets there’s always something new to see. They are also much more cozier since they aren’t in the middle of a big city and as opposed to being surrounded by huge buildings it’s little cottages.

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As usual, regardless of all the good things that happen, I feel there’s some rule that it has to be a 2:1 ratio. So the one bad thing that has happened to me the past week was that on my way to work on a group project, mid-peddle crossing the street, my bike chain broke and I couldn’t control my bike anymore and there was a group of about 20 people at the bus stop in front of my house watching the whole scene play out. It wasn’t like I could check why it happened in the middle of the road and I was so embarrassed I didn’t even look back so I had to hop down of the seat straddling my bike and scoot the rest of the way and then I just walked it as quickly as possible to lock it on a rack since I was in a hurry and couldn’t figure out what had happened at first. It wasn’t until I compared my bikes to the others on my way home I realized the whole chain was missing. This will be the 3rd time I bring it to the bike shop. I’m sure they’ll know me by name before I leave!

In order to get in the Christmas Spirit, I bought hot cocoa which may or may not have been a good thing. I make it on a regular basis, in order to a.) get warm, and b.) feel christmasy. Our evenings are usually spent drinking hot cocoa, wine, or tea together and eating bread and cheese or whatever evening treat someone brings home. And lately, we’ve been watching Christmas movies to make it feel more like a Christmas atmosphere.

Today we’re picking up our Christmas tree today and will be having our Christmas dinner next weekend to exchange our Secret Santa gifts since everyone is leaving for the holidays.

 

Finally, this past Thursday Alex, Soundousee, and I visited the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg in Selestat. It’s so neat that things like this exist so close to us. We took a train from Strasbourg there and poor planning on Alex’s part had us taking an Uber up and not knowing it was the only one in all of Selestat we had to ask for a ride back down to the train station. All-in-all it was a fun afternoon, the weather was beautiful and the view was amazing. I can only imagine having lived during the Middle Ages and looking out at my kingdom. The cool thing is that you can see other castles in the mountains in the distance.

Only a handful of days until Damian gets here! So excited to travel for the New Year !!

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Being 5,090 miles away from home (yes, I looked it up) didn’t stop me from celebrating Thanksgiving! We planned our “Friendsgiving” meal way in advance and everyone was assigned a typical Thanksgiving dish to bring to the table. Mind you, this was everyone’s first time celebrating Thanksgiving in their life…most of them had never even tried the dishes they made, yet, they all turned out AMAZING! Francesca was so confused why she was putting sugar and marshmallows in sweet potatoes, however, her dish turned out to be my favorite!

I assigned everyone a recipe and there were A LOT of substitutions. There are several things you cannot find here in France that make up your favorite thanksgiving dishes: brown sugar and corn syrup for pecan pie; as Tatiana had put it best, “you can’t find ‘corn’ anything here”!

We cooked together all afternoon and it was just like back home everyone running around, getting dressed and taking showers last minute, Abi dropped half of her green beans on the floor, the Thanksgiving chaos made me feel like I was at home!

In the evening we all got together and invited a few other friends to celebrate! We even served everyone the amount a true experienced Thanksgiving veteran would, covering every single square inch of the plate!

I was so proud when in true spirit ; people got up for seconds!!!

This was our menu:

Turkey

Rice Dressing

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Apple Pie

Pecan Pie

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Before digging in we each said what we were thankful for which I know some people were really looking forward to taking part in this tradition *cough* Diana *cough*.

Everyone mentioned how they were thankful for this experience, for being able to experience their first thanksgiving, and having such wonderful roommates! We got a little silly and Francesca ended up having a huge list of things she was thankful for…when we went to continue going around the circle she even said, “Wait! I’m not done yet”…She really embraced the tradition!

Later in the night she even gave me her secret ingredient for her Sweet Potato Casserole. It called for pecans and not knowing the nut she grabbed walnuts… her tactic for getting us to not notice was crushing them up extremely small. It was still delicious!

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Friday we didn’t partake in Black Friday as it’s a much smaller event here, most stores offered 20% off.

Friday evening was the inauguration of the Christmas Market which the oldest most famous one is here in Strasbourg! We weathered the pouring rain to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree. It was similar to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve where they had performers before the lighting and a host with several guest broadcasters from around the country coming in to comment.

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IMG_1725-1.jpgAfter the countdown and the tree was lit we escaped the weather. On the way home, we stopped at McDonald’s as all rough nights go; comfort food when I’m missing home (or being lazy).

Saturday morning Diana and I headed to Colmar for a guided tour of their Christmas Market. The town is so cozy and beautiful; it’s a 25 min train ride from Strasbourg.

The tour took an hour and I learned so many things about Christmas traditions! Apples and Pretzels were used as decorations on the tree. The apples as a sign for original sin and the “bretzels” as they are called here a symbol of god’s eternal love thanks to their shape which resembles an infinity symbol. Also, Godmother’s and Godfather’s would hide a piece of gold inside to give to their godchildren on New Year’s to start of the year (I like this idea; nanny and parrain, take notes!)

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Did you know that St.Nicholas, the man who inspired Santa Claus, was from Turkey! His legend told here in France is that a butcher lodged three boys and killed them and cut them into pieces and St.Nicholas rescued them and brought them back to life.

Also, St.Nicholas passes on the night of December 5th, his feast day is on the 6th. Children receive presents on the 6th. He is followed by Krampuslauf (Krampus) who steals all the naughty children and puts them in his sack never to be seen again.

So, on Christmas Eve it is not Santa Claus who brings presents but Christkind, a female angel modeled after the Angel of the Lord who announced Jesus’ Birth.

Bretzels and Clementines were traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve because of tradition to not eat meat which is where we get staying up till midnight which was when they would then have a feast! Some places eat seven kinds of fish!

Furthermore, I learned that Santa Claus’ red and white suit became widely popularized thanks to  Coca-Cola!

Finally, the last Christmas Tradition I found intriguing was that Christmas Eve is thought to be a magical night because it’s a night when it was believed that animals had the gift to speak!

The tour was very interesting and our guide shared many myths, legends, and traditions of Christmas in Alsace and Europe.

Something traditional at the Christmas market is “Vin Chaud” or “Hot Wine” which I was not a fan of; it’s very thick and syrupy. It’s traditionally red wine which historically; it was the bad wine that was left over and it was heated up and flavored with spices. It ALMOST tastes good but not my favorite. White wine, apple juice, and orange juice with spices are now offered for different preferences. IMG_7455 2.JPG

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~FRANÇAIS~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Le fait que j’étais 8,191 km de chez moi (oui j’ai recherché la distance) ne m’a pas empêchée de célébrer Thanksgiving! On a organisé, en avance, notre repas de « Friendsgiving » et tout le monde devait préparer un plat pour ce repas. Il faut savoir, que c’était la première fois que tout le monde a célébré Thanksgiving. De plus, plusieurs d’entre eux n’ont jamais essayé les plats qu’ils ont préparés, mais quand même ils étaient réussis. Francesca n’a pas compris pourquoi elle a ajouté du sucre et des guimauves aux patates douces, néanmoins, son plat était mon préféré !

J’ai donné à tout le monde une recette et beaucoup d’ingrédients étaient remplacés. Il y a plusieurs choses nécessaires pour les plats, surtout pour les desserts traditionnels de Thanksgiving, qu’on ne peut pas trouver ici en France.  Par exemple, du sucre brun ou du sirop de maïs pour la tarte de pecan. Comme Tatiana l’avait dit, « tu ne peux pas trouver des choses avec du maïs ici » !

Nous avons cuisiné ensemble tout l’après-midi et c’était comme si j’étais chez moi. Tout le monde courrait par tous, en train de s’habiller à la dernière minute et prendre des douches.

Abi a laissé tomber la moitié de ses haricots verts par terre : le chaos de Thanksgiving m’a donné l’impression d’être à la maison.

Le soir nous nous sommes réunis tous ensemble et on a invité quelques amis pour faire la fête. On a servi tout le monde de portions équivalents à celles d’un vrai « expert » de Thanksgiving, couvrant chaque centimètre carré du plat.

J’étais très fière quand tout le monde s’est levé pour du rab.

Voici notre menu :

Dinde

Rice dressing

Casserole de Haricot Vert

Purée

Casserole de Patates Douces

Tarte aux Pommes

Tartes aux Pecans

Haricots Verts

Avant de manger on a tous partagé quelques mots afin de remercier les bonnes choses dans nos vies. Je sais que certaines personnes avaient hâte de participer à cette tradition @Diana.

Tout le monde était reconnaissant de cette expérience : de célébrer leur premier Thanksgiving, et d’avoir de merveilleux collocs. Nous sommes devenus un peu ridicules et Francesca avait beaucoup des choses pour lesquelles elle était reconnaissant (i.e. Pizza)…quand on a essayé de continuer à la prochaine personne elle a exclamé qu’elle n’avait pas fini ! Elle a vraiment comprit cette tradition.

Plus tard, le soir, Francesca m’a donnée son ingrédient secret pour sa délicieuse casserole de patates douces. Des pecans étaient nécessaires pour la recette mais comme elle ne savait pas ce qu’étaient des pecans, elle a acheté des noix. Pour que l’on ne se rende pas compte de son erreur, elle les a émincés très fins. Quand même c’était incroyable !

Vendredi nous ne sommes pas allés au Black Friday comme c’est un évènement beaucoup moins sérieux ici, beaucoup des magasins avaient des réductions à 20%.

Vendredi soir était l’inauguration du Marché de Noël ici à Strasbourg où se trouve un des plus vieux et plus grands en France. On a supporté la pluie pour observer l’illumination du sapin de noël en centre-ville. C’était comme New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, il y avait des artistes qui ont joué pendant le spectacle.  Il y avait aussi un présentateur avec des messages d’autres présentateurs venus d’autres régions du pays partagés avec les spectateurs.

Après le compte à rebours et l’illumination du sapin, nous sommes partis. Sur le chemin du retour, on s’est arrêtées manger à McDonald’s ; de la nourriture qui me rappelle chez moi (ou quand je suis paresseuse) !

Samedi matin Diana et moi sommes allées à Colmar pour un tour guidé du Marche de Noël. La ville est très mignonne ; c’est à 25 min par train de Strasbourg.

Le tour a duré une heure et j’ai appris plusieurs choses sur les traditions de noël. Les pommes et bretzels sont utilisés comme décorations pour les sapins. Les pommes étaient des symboles pour le péché originel et les bretzels sont des symboles de l’amour éternel de Dieu représenté par leur forme qui ressemble à un signe de l’infini. De plus, les marraines et parrains auront caché une petite pièce d’or dans le bretzel pour le donner à leurs filleuls pour commencer la nouvelle année. (J’aime bien cette idée ; nanny et parrain, notez cette idée !)

Est-ce que vous savez que, St.Nicolas, l’homme qui est derrière l’inspiration de Père Noël vient de la Turquie. La légende racontée ici en France c’est qu’un boucher a accueilli 3 petit garçons et il les a tués et découpés en petit morceaux. St. Nicholas les a sauvés et les a ressuscités.

Aussi, St.Nicholas passe pendant la nuit du 5 décembre, parce que sa fête religieuse est le 6 décembre. Les enfants reçoivent des cadeaux le 6. Il est suivi par Krampuslauf (Krampus) qui kidnappe tous les enfants désobéissants. Donc, la veille de noël, ce n’est pas le Père Noël qui amène des cadeaux mais Christkind, un ange féminin modelé d’après l’Ange de Dieu qui a annoncé la naissance de Jésus.

Des bretzels et clémentines étaient traditionnellement mangés pendant la Veille de Noël à cause de la tradition religieuse qui prohibait de manger de la viande jusqu’au 25 décembre. Dans quelques régions, 7 différents types de poisson étaient manges !

En outre, j’ai appris que le costume rouge et blanc du Père Noël est devenu popularisé grâce au Coca-Cola !

Finalement, la dernière tradition de Noël que j’ai trouvé intéressante c’est qu’il y a une croyance populaire par laquelle les animaux seraient magiquement dotés de parole.

Le tour était vraiment intéressant et notre guide a partagé beaucoup de mythes, légendes, et traditions de Noël en Alsace et en Europe.

Quelque chose traditionnelle au Marché c’est du Vin Chaud de laquelle je n’ai pas aimer ; c’est très épais et comme de sirop. C’est traditionnellement du vin rouge parce que historiquement c’était du mauvais vin qui était cuit et parfumé aux épices. Ça a presque un bon goût mais je n’aime pas trop. Du vin blanc, jus de pommes, et jus d’orange avec des épices sont aujourd’hui utilisés pour différentes préparations.