Like so many other 'old traditions', most of the traditional British Christmas was invented by the Victorians. Prince Albert brought over many German customs, including the Christmas Tree, which filtered down to the general population from the Royal Court.
One the British haven't embraced, is the soldier nutcracker (as in the ballet) - I came across this chap chained up outside a Christmas decoration shop.
German decorations are fab - especially the ones that twirl round and round, powered by the updraft from candles. Sadly...budget airline ticket = carry on bag = no room to buy any = :-(.
The symbol of Berlin is the bear. My Ma has a little silver bear pendant that my Dad brought back from a trip to Berlin before they were married. As a child it was symbolic of going out and parties, as she wore it a lot.
When you wander round Berlin there are bears EVERYWHERE - some tasteful, some not. I think this one looks rather embarassed, and well it should!
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I was in my first term at University - literally half my lifetime ago.
Our hotel, was about 100 yards into East Berlin, with Checkpoint Charlie at the end of the block. Neither of us could quite get over the fact we were wandering around East Berlin.
On the S-Bahn to and from the airport, it was clear that while lots of money has been invested in the East, certain areas remain untouched. As we looked at people our age getting on and off the train, it was almost unfathomable to contemplate the changes they must have experienced. Not just to their environment, but to their worldview and moral certainties.
I guess it's enevitable that Checkpoint Charlie would become a tourist attraction - and for all I was a tourist, and I was there, I found the jolly t-shirts and posing with the 'soliders' slightly distastful. I was glad to see that there are church services where the dead are remembered.
Every right thinking person is upset today about events like this, and even more so this.
It leaves me feeling particularly raw, as The Boy and I were turned down as adoptive parents earlier this year. The reason? Our history of ill-health - something we had been 100% frank about, despite being cautioned against doing so be a friend (who 'neglected to mention' her mental health issues and is now the fantastic Mother to a very, happy child).
I think we could give a could provide a loving home to a child, and at times like this find it hard to understand why we were turned down, when children are left with their natural parents, who do such unnatural things to them.