My favorite aspect of Christmas in Cincinnati, however, has to be the German heritage. So many American Christmas customs were originally German, including the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum), fruitcake (stollen), and the advent calendar. My family even adopted the Weihnachtsgurke tradition of hiding a pickle ornament on the Christmas Tree. Whichever kid found it Christmas morning (I usually let my little brother win) would gain an extra present from Santa! However, I learned recently that this tradition isn’t authentically German, but invented by German-Americans.
Whoops! So maybe my family needs a little schooling in the traditional German Christmas. Well, we got that a couple weeks ago. My wonderful mom, dad and brother trekked out to Cincinnati from Wilmington, Delaware (10 hour drive = not fun) just to see little old me and enjoy Christmastide in the town.
My Dad, who speaks German, had read about the German heritage here and was itching for a Bavarian Christmas meal. Where better to take them but Hofbräuhaus in Newport? Believe it or not, this was my first time at the restaurant, and it certainly won’t be my last. We ate schnitzel, drank Christmasbier (a pint each for me and the folks, a stein for my “little” brother), and chicken danced our tails off. The next night we dined at Montgomery Inn in Mount Adams. True, not a German institution, but home to the most delicious (and messiest) ribs I’ve ever had. Bibs recommended.
After food, the first thing on my holiday to-do list was the Cincincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights. It didn’t disappoint. Not only did we stroll around the beautifully decorated park, but also got to see many nocturnal animals usually not out-and-about during normal zoo hours. I particularly liked the American cougars (I am a cat lady J). I discovered that the zoo was founded by a German immigrant, Andrew Erkenbrecher, and is very similar to traditional German zoos and botanical gardens. Watch the FOX19 morning news on Monday. I take a closer look at the history of the zoo and its tenacious founder…
How better to wrap up the weekend than by enjoying a cup of Graeters hot chocolate and hitting the ice rink in Fountain Square? It was pretty cold Saturday night, so I opted to watch rather than skate. The folks were impressed by the huge Christmas tree – my Mom even said it rivals Time Square’s! But the main attraction for my family was the Genius of Water, or the Lady. As you all know, the Lady is another German facet of Cincinnati. Ferdinand von Miller Jr. created her, after his dad sculpted “Patrona Bavaria” for Munich’s Oktoberfest! You’ve probably heard the story, but in case you don’t know: http://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/okt.aspx?menu_id=256&id=8474
After this holiday season, I can’t wait to see what Cincinnati brings us in 2012. Happy New Year!