Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our Christmas in Vienna

Krampas and St. Nicholas (Renata Lindroos)
We had reservations for Christmas Eve dinner at a local restaurant - we were hoping for a traditional Viennese dinner.  When we arrived at the restaurant we found the INN closed - a familiar Christmas story? We walked for what seemed miles, like the 5 unwise men following the northern star  (Ok, let's make that 4 unwise men - and 1 wise one not pictured) looking for another Inn that would take us in ....

....We ended up going east and found an Indian restaurant that welcomed us with open arms.  Instead of incense - the smell of curry and spices permeated the room where we shared a meal that left us wanting more.  Next stop India.

Zum Moghulhof Indisches Restaurant in Spittleberg

A large part of the enjoyment we get from our adventure is in learning the culture and traditions of the countries we visit. Some traditions are  passed down for hundreds of years and some are more recent but seem to have taken hold.  As in various parts of the USA, traditions and family are strong here, why else would someone spend 6 months in a parka, thermal underwear, gloves, scarves and nasty weather?  It is the warmth and comfort they get from a routine and from family that makes them stay.  I love the Krampus and St Nick observance on Dec 5th.  Parents in the USA could learn something on parenting and about putting the fear of coal as a gift from St Nick from these Austrians. ( of course the "experts" would talk of scarring the children with a scary creature, bah humbug! These kids get fewer gifts and seem happy enough). We can also learn about how to celebrate Christmas and avoid our ugly, greedy Black Fridays, and the After-Christmas Sales. The people here refuse to work after 2 PM on Christmas Eve, and nothing is opened
(aside from a few Cafés )  until the 27th. I mean  NOTHING is opened, and you had better have done your grocery shopping for 3 days. It must be a wonderful break from the daily work life and escape from the commercialization the holidays can become. The Austrians are doing all they can to keep USA Christmas morning Santa out of their lives, however our movies and TV shows keep creeping in and taking over their childrens' minds. Their Christmas traditions are being threatened, kind of sad really.

The advantage of staying in Vienna for 2 months was getting to know the locals and getting  invitations to their parties!!
Ingela (red top tan pants) is from Sweden but has made Vienna her home for over 20 years.  She and her fellow choir members sing Christmas carols in English, German, and Swedish.  If you ever decide to visit Vienna, please let us know and we will put you in touch with Ingela - we rented a wonderful apartment from her for our stay here.
Entertainment included a former Swedish Idol Winner Johannes Kotschy and our own Trevor Lindroos aka Josh Grobin aka Karaoke King

Marilyn Wallace invited us to spend Christmas at her home.  We were able to embrace all the local customs including the fiery gluhwine Marilyn is preparing.  Back story on Marilyn:  She moved to Vienna from the USA many years ago to study opera, and where she met her husband Bill Wallace.  Together they formed "International Theater" an English speaking theater in Vienna.   This is our connection with her  30+ years ago where Richard came over to act in various plays for 6 months, I came over and worked back-stage making sure he looked good (I did the lights) - we got married and Marilyn and Bill held our wedding reception in their home!  Wonderful reunion.

Being seated for Christmas dinner.  Notice the "Christmas Crackers" on the plate - really an English tradition where we crossed arms to pull the ends to get our surprise out! 

In the poppers or crackers we found riddles and crowns that must be worn throughout dinner.  Conversation starters are trying to guess each others riddles.  (I did not partake because I forgot my glasses)

Dinner ends - but some traditions don't.  Austrians do not do the Christmas Stocking, Marilyn held on to that tradition and before dessert was served we all got a Christmas Stocking.

An end to a wonderful evening!   

Our wish to all of you for a wonderful New Year!!