Be a part of Christmas history in Weimar, Germany

Did you know that the first Christmas tree was erected in Weimar, Germany? Or, that one of the most famous Christmas carols, “O, Du Fröhliche” was composed there, as well? If you’re looking to have a traditional Christmas as well as be a part of the holiday’s past, then Weimar may be the perfect place for you.

In the early 1800’s, on the night before Christmas, a man named Johann Wilhelm Hoffmann decided to do something special to cheer up the poor children of the town. So, he erected a Christmas tree outside his shop in the market square for the town to enjoy.

To celebrate Hoffmann’s gesture and the holiday, the Weimar Christmas Market will take place from November 24 to December 22, 2011. During this time, the town center is illuminated by tiny lights, the air smells of roasted nuts and just-baked Stollen cake, and carolers create the background music for the cozy scene. Visitors to the market can purchase items from craftsmen and traders, such as traditional pyramids and nutcrackers, glassware, and wooden toys from different parts of Germany. An ice skating rink, mulled wine, Santa Claus and, of course, a Christmas tree, are other things to look forward to at the event.

Dining in Newport, Kentucky – Hofbräuhaus

Once word gets out that I blog for a travel website people expect me to know all of thousand of the  Philippines islands by name, the capital city of Nauru (there isn’t one) or the ingredients of that strange gelatin found in a lot of European fare. Well let it be known it’s a pretty big world out there and a lot of information for one person to store, but I do my best to grab the bull by the horns when presented with a new and foreign opportunity. Such was the case when I stepped into a world of German cuisine at the Hofbräuhaus. I was nothing more than a tenderfoot. My taste buds long deprived from the splendors found in Bavarian dishes wanted more and my belly just felt as if it would pop. Wait, I just realized I’m getting far ahead of things here. I haven’t told you what I ordered.

When I stepped into the Newport, Kentucky’s Hofbräuhaus I hadn’t a clue what to expect. I was told there would be chicken dancing which semi-frightened me and my companions were all aghast that I had come so far in life without tasting good German food. I knew then I would have to do everything the German way that night – even beer which I usually don’t let pass my lips ever. When we started with beverage orders I requested the lightest brew possible and the smallest serving. I continued gazing over the menu lost and confused. What should I order? I saw a chicken sandwich on the menu, but common sense told me that certainly wasn’t German food. There was Schnitzel, Leberkäse, Bierwurst, Bratwurst, Grillwurst and Kasseler Rippchen. From what I could gather it was a lot of sausage and a lot of potatoes. I was clueless. Luckily 7 of the 12 of us dining that evening were real experts at this and had even dined at the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

They pointed me to the Sauerbraten – a roasted round of delicious marinated beef accompanied by red apple kraut, mashed potatoes and broccoli. I was humming with joy, but I still had to wait for my dish. In the meantime one of my pals ordered several appetizers for all the tenderfeet in the group to gain a full scale of what the cuisine is like. We sampled Fritierte Gurken (German fried pickles), Sauerkraut balls and something that reminded me of the cheesy goldfish snacks except they were kind of doughy and less cheesy. Before I could question my excuse for not having had so much of these scrumptious treats in the past my Saurbraten found its way into the center of my being. I dug in.

Oh, time for the chicken dance! I abandoned my seat and meal to take part in the chicken dancing business. I stretched my wings up high, flapped them around and wiggled down with the best of them until the live band started speeding things up. My rhythm got lost in laughter and I was having a ball of a time. Once dancing time was up I retreated from the dance floor back to the dinner table. The brief bit of dancing gave me enough energy to plough through the rest of my plate. As I cleaned up house my group smiled and cheered me on! I was a newbie no more.

The Hofbräuhaus is located in Northern Kentucky on the southern side of Cincinnati at 3rd & Saratoga at the Levee, Newport, KY 41071. Ph. 859.491.7200. Open daily from 11:00 A.M. Most dishes range from the $10-$30 price range. Excellent and friendly wait staff.