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I love Germany's quiet attention to the seasons, the produce that appears and disappears like clockwork as we move through the year, and I love seeing the stuff of carols and fairy tales in the shops, the bunches of mistletoe and the paper cones filled with roasted chestnuts that I spy and can't resist as I go about my daily errands, buying pumpkin and pasta for the night's supper. I can't think of a translation for Adventzeit, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, where each Sunday is ceremoniously numbered and marked by a visit to the Christmas market or to a choir recital. This bouquet came from the flower shop at the corner of Danzigerstraße and Schönhauser Allee; as they queued, customers nibbled on the Lebkuchen (soft gingerbread), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) and Vanillakipferl (vanilla crescents) in the basket on the counter.


Oh, I love this time before Christmas as well. But the time after Christmas will be so much the worse. - Still dark and cold but without this solemn anticipation...

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