A Day At The Lake

17 Jan

After weeks of gray skies and snow, the sun is finally back. It may be a bit too early to head to the beach, but while passing through the southern Bavarian city of Prien last weekend, I did make it out the region’s largest lake – Chiemsee.

Halfway between Munich and Salzburg, this large lake lies at the foot of the Alps. On a warmer day, I would have gladly taken a dip in the crystal clear waters. However, with temperatures barely above freezing, I opted for a relaxing walk and soaked up some winter sun. The lake is officially known as the Chiemsee (“der See” is the German word for lake), but as the region’s largest lake, it is also sometimes called the “Bavarian Sea.”

As always, here are a few pictures to boost your imagination!



A German Epiphany!

6 Jan

20 + C + M + B + 11

I have seen this strange inscription written in chalk over the front doors of many houses in my neighborhood since my arrival in Germany.  Only recently did I find out what this puzzling equation represents.

January 6th: The 12th Day of Christmas

Germany, and Bavaria in particular, has kept many religious holidays on the calendar, including January 6th: the Epiphany celebration.  I first started paying regular tribute to this holiday in France.  Although it is not a bank holiday there, I got used to celebrating with a piece of “king cake”, the notorious galette des rois made out of pastry and marzipan.  However, I would have to say that this is by no means a particularly spiritual experience.

In Germany, the religious traditions linked to this holiday are still very much alive.  The tradition of blessing houses linked to Epiphany celebrations here can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The inscription (20+C+M+B+11) is in fact a blessing over each household and all those who pass through.

It can be read in the following way.  The numbers at the beginning and end, 20+11, correspond to the new year: 2011. So these change each year.

The letters have a dual-reading.  First of all, they correspond to the initials of the three wise men: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.  The word “Epiphany” comes from a Greek root that evokes the idea of an “appearance” or “apparition,” and this holiday traditionally celebrates the appearance of Christ and the visit of the Three Kings.  Secondly, the three letters also symbolize a latin blessing: Christus mansionem benedicat (may Christ bless this house).


"Sternsinger" - 3 "star singers" come on the Epiphany dressed as the 3 Kings to sing a traditional song and perform the blessing. They also collect donations for charity.



That is all there is to it!  So, now that the puzzle is solved, wishing everyone a wonderful Epiphany!