4 Ways to Celebrate 4th of July Abroad

 

I can not believe tomorrow is the 4th of July. Seriously, where is this year going? With Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest full of red, white and blue outfits, the strawberry and blueberry flag cake and how to have the most epic backyard barbecue. I’ve always loved the 4th of July because it usually means an excursion to the lake, day drinking and delicious food.

Nowadays, the 4th of July is just another day, a working day, nothing special. That’s obvious, right? It’s America’s Independence Day, not Germany’s! My co-workers acknowledge the day with something like, “Today’s a big day for you, isn’t it?” It’s very nice of them and just goes to show how much American history is taught in German school. It’s fascinating.

In an effort to keep traditions alive and to still celebrate the beginning of America, here are 4 ways I will be ringing in the 4th of July in Germany!

1. Prepare American food. Just because we don’t have a backyard or any friends with a backyard, we do have a balcony and will be grilling cheeseburgers tomorrow night. Is there anything more American than a cheeseburger, fries and beer? We’ll bring in some German tradition with some German beer, but I am really looking forward to it. The hamburger buns in the grocery store even have an American flag on them.

2. Listen to country music. I love country music and the songs have American pride all over them. Grilling + Music = the perfect 4th of July. Whenever I would visit the lake or go on a boat, country music (or Jimmy Buffett if my dad was the captain) was always blasting. It reminds me of summer, going to Rascal Flatts concerts with my girlfriends in high school and not having a care in the world.

3. Wear red, white or blue. Wearing all three at once is a little over the top and definitely screams American expat. But it’s still great to show pride in being American with a blue shirt and white pants or a red summer dress.

4. Watch fireworks or an American movie. Did you know you can watch fireworks on YouTube? We did that over New Year’s Eve and it made me feel connected to an American NYE. We may put fireworks on in the background and then watch an American movie. The typical American movies are Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Independence Day and Enemy of the State. 

I love these ideas because it proves that you can bring your traditions anywhere. It’s sort of like how American immigrants would bring their hometown traditions when they moved their lives to America. Be sure to check out my Instagram to see how we celebrate in real time.

 

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How are you celebrating 4th of July this year?

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Turning 29

 

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Yesterday was my 29th birthday. One year away from the big 3-0. Yikes, I’m old. The day was pretty great, but passed without much thought. I had to work and buy a new hairdryer because mine started smoking on Monday and then I went to the gym with a friend. A fairly normal day, although it ended with pizza and champagne, so that was nice!

We are celebrating for real in two weeks in Champagne, France with one of my best friends from high school and her husband. I am so looking forward to it! That’s when the real celebration with happen.

As with every birthday, I’m taking this time to reflect on this past year and thinking about the year ahead. I don’t feel any older and I honestly think of myself being 23 or 24, especially when I get carded at bars (in America) or the grocery store in Germany. Yes, I have been carded in a grocery store here in Germany where the legal drinking age is 18.

 

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This year is going to be a big year for me, I can just feel it. I’m feeling settled into life in Germany and have somewhat of a routine. Vinn and I are traveling all around Europe and are building memories that we are going to look back on when we’re 80 in our Adirondack chairs in our backyard with fondness.

This year, my 29th year, is my year to throw myself into my passion and to keep crossing things off my bucket list. Now is the time because I have no real responsibilities and it won’t be long until we have a mortgage and kids running around asking for snacks all day. I want to throw myself into what I love.

This year, I want to focus on the people that make me happy and building deeper, stronger relationships. I’ve always believed that when it comes to friendship that it’s quality over quantity hands down. Building relationships in Germany has been hard, but I have made some great friends here and I hope these relationships continue to grow. It’s also difficult to continue friendships from 7 hours away and I want to make an even bigger effort to stay in touch. I am very lucky because I text with my best friend every day, FaceTime about once a month with another friend and email back and forth with even more. I also talk to my mom and sister daily. Thank Goodness for technology.

Of course, my relationship with Vinn is my number one priority and I am excited to see where this year will take us. Physically, this year is taking us to some amazing places and I can’t wait to share these moments with each other.

 

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This is a random thing, but this year I want to figure out a skincare routine. I’ve gotten a handle on my breakouts, knock on wood, and now I want to research products that will keep my skin looking fresh and youthful. Now, I pretty much just use a moisturizer with SPF in it since staying protected from the sun is the number one thing for your skin. I want to find some kind of eye cream and serum that will keep me looking 29 for a very long time! I’d love to hear your recommendations, if you have some.

Overall, I think year 29 is going to be filled with more passport stamps, lots of wine drinking, great conversations and amazing memories to last a lifetime.

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How Germans Celebrate Easter

With Easter coming up this weekend, I thought I’d share some insights into the Easter traditions here in Germany. One of my favorite things about living abroad is that I get to see how other people live, especially how other cultures celebrate holidays.

 

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I just had to include the cutest picture of Copley. Doesn’t she just look so happy?!

Growing up, Easter was not the biggest holiday, that award goes to Christmas easily. But we would get together with my aunt, uncle and cousins and my Mima to celebrate with a big meal and lots of wine. We don’t have the same meal every year, but it’s usually something like a ham with lots of sides, a beef tenderloin or spaghetti and meatballs. We’d have Easter egg hunts when I was little, but after age 10 we pretty much stopped those. My mom always gave us an Easter basket, like seriously up until like 24, and she would even hide them throughout the house and we’d have to find them with a scavenger hunt. She’s seriously talented with coming up with rhymes for the scavenger hunt. This is my biggest memory of Easter for sure. I love little traditions like that.

A lot of Easter celebrations are similar here in German, too. It is a pretty large holiday nationwide. Schools are closed, banks are closed and no one has to go to work on Good Friday or the Monday after Easter, or Easter Monday. The Saturday before Easter is a huge day! People head to the grocery store like the Apocalypse is coming, Easter markets are everywhere and bakeries are flooded with people hoping to score an Easter “lamb,” which is a cake in the shape of a lamb.

For decorations, Germans love “Osternbaum” or an Easter tree where they hang eggs on tree leaves like the picture below or around a well like the picture above. I love this tradition because the eggs are so beautiful and full of bright colors. These trees are everywhere and they just make me so happy.

 

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On Easter Sunday, most Germans go to a church service and then have a large, celebratory lunch with family. The typical German Easter dish is Maultaschen, which is a German ravioli or tortellini with large noodles filled with meat, usually, and with spinach. Legend has it that German monks came up with Maultaschen as a way to hide meat from God during Lent. Sneaky Germans.

 

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For children, Easter egg hunts are very popular and Easter baskets from the Easter bunny are given on Sunday morning. The baskets are usually filled with little chocolates and most likely a Kinder überraschung or a child, chocolate surprise. Kinder is a brand of chocolate that fills a chocolate egg with a toy. They are illegal in the United States because of the potential chocking hazards from the toy inside, so naturally we had to buy some. I’ll share picture of our surprise on my Instagram once we eat them!

Overall, German Eastern and American Easter are pretty similar. We are all Christians celebrating the day Jesus rose from the dead. I am really looking forward to celebrating Easter this year here in Germany and am looking forward to seeing what the day will bring!

How are you celebrating Easter?

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Happy Valentine’s Day

A Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. OR Schon Valentinestag, as they say in German.

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Tonight Vinn and I have low-key plans to head to a favorite Italian restaurant tonight. The past few years, we’ve opted for a night out rather than getting each other gifts. We both love going to restaurants and feel that we should spend our money on experiences and not gifts.  Plus, this weekend we are heading to Dublin and eating out, visiting the Cliffs of Moher and drinking plenty of beer and whiskey for a lifetime. I’m really looking forward to it.

And we are both extra excited to go out tonight and this weekend because we spent all weekend on the couch. Vinn caught some kind of stomach bug on Thursday and couldn’t really move or eat. We stayed on the couch, binge watched Netflix and tried to recover. I managed to cook some delicious meals for myself and hit the gym for the first time in a month thanks to a minor medical thing. It felt amazing to finally be back and doing something healthy. I missed it.

Sorry this post is all over the place. It’s exactly how my brain is feeling lately. Wishing you all a great Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s filled with love. I will leave you now with this darling picture of my other Valentine, Copley!

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A Very (German) Christmas

Merry day after Christmas, everyone. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend celebrating with family. Vinn and I celebrated with our little family here in Germany and it was incredibly wonderful.

Fun cultural tidbit: Christmas Eve is much “bigger” here in Germany. Most families go to church, have get togethers, eat a large Christmas goose and celebrate. And actually, Christmas Eve is the day when Germans put up their trees. This is one that I do not think I could adapt because I love having a tree and looking at it all December long. For our Christmas Eve, we spent all day in our matching penguin pajamas watching holiday movies. It was perfect!

Christmas Day, we woke up, made some homemade cappuccinos, took a family picture and opened some presents.

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She will do anything for treats. Doesn’t she look like an old man wearing an undershirt with chest hair sticking out? So darn cute. And those gifts under the tree are what a “we aren’t doing gifts” Christmas looks like for my family. When my parents came to visit, they brought all of these. Vinn and I each exchanged gifts, as well.

 

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This is the best we could get with the self-timer on my camera and some treats sitting on the tv stand. But, these pajamas are so darn cute! They are a little big, so comfy. We basically spent all weekend in them.

After opening presents, we ate a breakfast of lemon ricotta pancakes, bacon and more coffee.

We watched a few more movies and then it was time for dinner, which was homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. And O.M.G. was it delicious! It was the first time I made meatballs since moving to Germany and I was nervous about they would turn out, but they turned out great! We’ll have leftovers for several days, which is awesome. It was so nice to have a nice meal with some wine and to reflect on the year. We also talked about our travel plans in the new year, which makes me really excited.

I would say that our first Christmas in Germany was a super success. Even though it was only the two of us, it was so nice to start some new traditions, like watching critically acclaimed movies, and celebrate as our family.

How was your holiday?