Thursday, December 13, 2007





If you feel compelled to spend your miserable wages on Christmas Tat then these examples of festive kitsch are about one degree preferable to the corporate evils on display in our Capitalist marketplaces. Why? This German Advent calendar doesn't contain any branded chocolate and so you may happily reflect on The Annunciation and the Flight to Bethlehem etc. without teeth decay /contributing to some fat Cadbury executive's Christmas bonus. The St.Nicholas doll above may look cute but he is definitely not modelled on the dominant company-originated image of Santa Claus we all have to put up with. The red-suited and white-bearded brand of Santa comes directly from Coca Cola advertising in the 20th Century. This St.Nick is offering what he owns to the poor and there's not a Nintendo Wii in sight!

5 comments:

Boring Being said...

The only time I've felt 'Chrismas-y' in recent years have been when I've been over to Munich for the Christkindl Markt. I used to live in this fine city, and I fell in love with the place. Properly cold, clear blue skies, gluwein and with the bare minimum of commercialisation. The stalls are full of genuinely desirable Christmas nik-naks, many of them hand crafted. Even the crowds are bearable and polite. I'm not religious, but Munich's a God-fearing place and the market is in the main square, under the gold statue of Unsere Lieben Frau with the Cathderal a snowball's throw away.

John Bagnall said...

Sounds fantastic, BB! Years ago I was briefly in Munich and even in the fetid Southern German summer heat the city easily won me over. I also liked Heidelberg. Without wishing to stereotype, these places seemed more "German" than say Hamburg or Frankfurt. Did they escape bomb damage in the war and therefore have more historical sights?

Boring Being said...

Can't speak for Heidelberg, but 70% of Munich was destroyed in WW2. They rebuilt it just as it was just before the war, where they could. That's why it's such a people-scaled city. Living there was a joy. Bavaria is ├╝ber-German, very conservative and absolutely stuffed with stereotypes. I can't imagine what a Bavarian farmer would think of Berlin or Hamburg. Much the same as a Pennine hill farmer thinks of "That London", I suspect.

They got a bit carried away in their zeal to replicate things exactly, though - until embarassingly recently there were swastikas on the ceiling of the famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall, painted during its restoration and touched up since. Considering Hitler used to hold rabble-rousing meetings in the function room upstairs, you'd think they'd have noticed earlier.

I was once told that the large, artificial hill in the former olympic park was made from cleared wartime rubble. I'm not sure how true that is, but it is topped off with a memorial cross.

John Bagnall said...

Thanks BB, you've made me want to re-visit Bavaria and as I haven't yet decided on next year's holiday (other than a Walsingham pilgrimage) this looks quite likely. I also remember Munich had some excellent art galleries/museums with some fine gothic tryptychs and altar-pieces, though Hamburg did have a good share of spooky 19th Century Caspar David Friedrich oils.

Boring Being said...

If you do go, don't miss the Asam Kirche (Church of Sankt Johann Nepomuk) on Sendlinger Strasse. Every square inch of the interior is heavily Baroque. Watch out for the gilt skeleton just inside the main doors. It's holding a pair of scissors and about to cut the thread of life.