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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sundays in Europe

Beer Garden fun in Dresden, Germany

Maggie and Riley, on a Sunday hike through a castle.
Kid's meal at a local German restaurant. Those, of course, are sausage trees!
Family fun on a Sunday dinner out in Germany. Maggie wearing a medieval crown.
Sundays in Europe were a lot different than Sundays in the United States.

Sundays in Germany ,and in most of Europe, consisted of all stores closed. So no shopping. The only things opened on Sundays were restaurants. If you needed to go out to grab that small carton of milk they only have in Germany (Germans will make fun of our gallon milk jugs), then you would need to wait until Monday morning. No shopping at all. That took some use to when I first moved there.

In the United States, as a busy mom and full-time teacher, I always used to devote Sundays to grocery shopping and other kinds of shopping. In our commercialism and Western ways, you can buy a carton (or gallon) of milk at any given time here in the U.S. Shopping is always convenient and there's always a dozen kinds of 24-hour/7 days a week shops opened throughout our area. In Germany, shops usually close on Saturdays around 5, and close all day on Sundays.

Sundays are reserved for family time. On Sundays, you will see dozens of families taking walks, hiking, and eating out at restaurants and spending whole afternoons at the neighborhood beer gardens. During the spring, summer and fall months, the beer gardens on Sundays are filled with people, but mostly with families. All the beer gardens offer playgrounds, so while Mom, Dad and other family members are sitting and chatting while eating and drinking, kids are often at the playgrounds- most times unsupervised. Many expat gatherings were held at the beer gardens, and the other American women would always laugh that we could only leave our children unsupervised at the beer gardens in Germany, and we wouldn't dare do it in the United States. Everything was family friendly.

Restaurants are also different in Germany than in the United States. My first dose of experiencing this was during my House Hunting Trip to Dresden, before our actual move to Germany. My husband and I ate at many restaurants that week; the service slow and relaxed. We often stopped for a quick meal, since we had so much to do in that short week. But in Germany, there's no such thing as a quick meal. Eating out at a restaurant is the experience and Germans and other Europeans often sit at their table for hours. I had asked a German woman, whose son was in Riley's class, what the differences were between Germany and the United States; she had been an expat herself in America before moving back to her home country of Germany. She laughed, and said right away, "Eating out." She explained that the first time her and her husband went out to eat in America, they couldn't believe how fast-paced it was, and how the wait staff continued to push the bill on them. They were used to eating in Germany, where you spend most of your evening at the restaurant. "You guys in America will go to dinner then to the movies. A date for us Germans would be one or the other. You Americans try to cram too much into a date." I laughed too. I explained to her that was one of the differences I saw too. Because in those early months, Tim and I would take the kids out, and just want to eat and get home. But we were finding it was taking forever for our food, and to even ask for the check. Hours and hours. There were some nights, especially on Fridays, when we really wanted to go out to eat, but we really didn't want to make it an all-night event, so we just simply stayed home.

Sundays were special in Germany. Because of the rush-rush of the week, on weekends, everything was halted. But it wasn't your decision it was halted. It was just the way it was, and you never had to make that decision to just be and stop; it was already made for you. As Americans, how many times on a Sunday do you feel guilty for not doing anything, and just being? Always, right? But in Europe, it was expected.

When we moved back to New York, my husband and I both wanted Sundays to be still family time. We didn't want to get back into the habit of shopping on Sundays. It worked all summer. But then, when I started teaching again, grocery shopping was put back on Sundays. But the intention is still there.

So have a great Sunday today. The Europeans are walking with their families in their quaint cities, maybe eating as a family or at a local restaurant, and relaxing. No stress or guilt for taking the day off and having no worries. We need to learn to do this more!

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! I loved Sundays in Germany! (Unless I had run out of milk and had to go to the BahnHof to buy some)