Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag – Groundhog Day

If you are trying to lose weight or refrain from over-consumption this time of year, avoid Germany at all costs.  You will fail.

Between the first day when I walked through the welcoming entryway of the in-law’s fairytale gingerbread house to the last day of the holiday, when I waddled out, barely squeezing yourself through the narrow entryway, I had unwittingly consumed enough food to feed a large village in Mali, China or even India.  Dare I say even two villages.  Usually a restrained and temperate person, how had I succumbed to such unbridled indulgence?  I will tell you how.  In Germany Christmas is a two-day national holiday.  “What?” you ask.  Yes, it’s true.  But if you think about it, it shouldn’t surprise you that much.  In keeping with their traditions, like the fact that Germany is the land of the 90-day mandatory vacations a year (okay, maybe not quite that many, but definitely closer to 90 days than the meager 2 weeks or less that most Americans earn but are often encouraged not to take), perhaps Germans feel one day for Christmas isn’t enough.

On the 26th, otherwise know as zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag (2nd Christmas day), we all sat down again, at the same table, with freshly lit candles on the Weihnachtsbaum, again providing a twinkle (and considerable heat to the cozy room), and again dove into another Christmas meal of roasted goose,  plump raisin stuffing, piping hot gravy, red cabbage and Kartoffelkloesze, something like an over-sized gnocchi.  As on the 25th, the meat was perfectly cooked and roasted, with its skin crispy and fatty in all the right places and the meat falling off the bones; the plump sweet raisins complimented the tangy red cabbage; and the Kartoffelkloeszes bathed itself in gravy before finding its way into my eager mouth.  Can you say “Groundhog Day”?

When I asked my family why Germany has two Christmas days, no one seemed to know for sure.  They were just relieved to have a two-day holiday.  The likely guess may be that traditionally it allowed couples to spend one day with one family and the next with the other family.  Brilliant!  This would solve a lot of family angst during the holidays. In the U.S., many couples usually negotiate which holidays to spend with each side of the family.  If you have ever done this, you know how much stress and anxiety this can put on some fragile family relationships.  Maybe, Germany’s two-day Christmas holiday is the perfect answer to this dilemma.  But one thing is certain: it’s not the solution to losing weight or maintaining a healthy diet.


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