Christmastime in Dusseldorf

Christmas is less than two months away!  Admittedly, I panicked a bit when I first realized this—there is always so much to do to prepare!  But, then I remembered how wonderful Dusseldorf is at Christmas time and all my stress melted away.  From the charming Christmas markets to the beautiful candlelight and delicious mulled wine, there truly is an amazing romantic mood during Christmastime in Dusseldorf.

Previously I shared a bit about our fantastic Christmas markets, but there are many other beautiful seasonal attractions around town.  The “Wheel Of Vision” is a giant Ferris wheel that provides a birds eye view of Dusseldorf.  This is a particularly romantic spot once all of the Christmas markets are open and the holiday lights are strung throughout the city.  Add in Christmas music playing in the streets and there is truly something special about sitting back and enjoying this ride.

Christmas-market-3

If you prefer more action – no problem, there is another great attraction around Christmas:  The ice rink!  Located in the middle of the Christmas market at Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, a 450 square meter ice rink is erected for the public to enjoy.  It never feels more like Christmas than when I take in a few laps while relishing in the aromas of roasted almonds, cinnamon and chocolate being sold by the holiday vendors.

I am looking forward to welcoming you the Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel this Christmas season.  Be sure to ask your Personal Assistant about what other holiday activities the city has to offer—I promise there are lots!

Weihnachtszeit In Düsseldorf

In weniger als zwei Monaten ist Weihnachten! Zugegeben, als ich das realisierte, geriet ich ein wenig in Panik – es gibt doch noch so viel zu tun! Aber dann fiel mir ein, wie schön es in Düsseldorf zur Weihnachtszeit immer ist und mein Stress verschwand. Die reizvollen Weihnachtsmärkte, der schöne Kerzenschein und der leckere Glühwein, in Düsseldorf herrscht eine wunderbar romantische Stimmung zur Weihnachtszeit.

Letztes Jahr habe ich Euch schon mehr über unsere fantastischen Weihnachtsmärkte verraten, aber es gibt noch mehr weihnachtliche Attraktionen in der Stadt. „Das „Wheel Of Vision“ zum Beispiel ist ein Riesenrad, welches nur zur Winterzeit einen spannenden Blick aus der Vogelperspektive auf Düsseldorf verspricht. Besonders romantisch ist es, die Fahrt zu genießen, wenn die Weihnachtsmärkte bereits geöffnet sind und die Stadt in ihrer Festtagsbeleuchtung strahlt. Aus den Straßen schallt Weihnachtsmusik herauf und es ist wirklich etwas besonderes, sich oben zurückzulehnen und die Fahrt mit ihren Eindrücken zu genießen.

Christmas-market-3

Wenn ihr mehr Spannung bevorzugt – kein Problem. Es gibt eine weitere Attraktion in der Weihnachtszeit: Die Eislaufbahn! Platziert in der Mitte des Weihnachtsmarktes auf dem Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, erwartet Euch eine 450 Quadratmeter große Eislaufbahn, die frei zur Verfügung gestellt wird. Dort ein paar Runden zu drehen und dabei genüsslich die Aromen von gebrannten Mandeln, Zimt und Schokolade und was die Händler an ihren Ständen anbieten wahrzunehmen, das ist für mich Weihnachten.

Ich freue mich schon, Euch im Breidenbacher Hof zur Weihnachtszeit zu begrüßen. Fragt auf jeden Fall unsere Persönlichen Assistenten nach weiteren Weihnachtsaktivitäten in der Stadt – ich verspreche Euch, es gibt noch so einige!

Celebrating Singapore National Day With The Merlion

Just last week, the whole country was abuzz as we celebrated our 48th National Day on 9 August 2013.  National Day celebrations in Singapore are always an elaborate affair and one that I love to partake in.

Singapore National DayThe highlight of the festivities is the Singapore National Day Parade.  Each year, the National Day Parade presents an exciting display of fanfare, from the traditional parade march by all the uniformed organizations in Singapore to a stunning air acrobatics show by the air force to colorful stories of Singapore told in song and dance.  This all leads up to a spectacular display of fireworks, which beautifully lights up the skyline of our central business district.

This year, the National Day Parade consisted of several different segments, taking participants on a journey through Singapore’s history and the dreams for the future. One of the segments was a fun chapter portraying the traditional folk stories that we were told by our elders.

Many of the stories feature the Merlion, an iconic symbol of Singapore.  The body of the Merlion is of a fish, which represents Singapore’s history as a fishing village and the Merlion has the head of a lion, which represents Singapore’s Malay name “Singapura,” meaning lion city

Singapore National DayOne story of how the Merlion came into being dates back to when Singapore was still a fishing village.  There was once a very bad stormy night that had engulfed the city in dark clouds and the raging winds had woken the villagers.  As the terrified villagers watched the storm unfold, suddenly a bright light emerged from the Southern waters surrounding a mystical creature.  The creature battled the waves and the storm and by morning the wind and the waves began to die down and the creature had retreated into the waters leaving a colorful trail.

Rumor has it that when the creature – the Merlion, had conquered the storm, it claimed its victory by standing on a proud perch on Mount Imbiah which is located on Sentosa Island. Today a large statue of the Merlion is erected at the Imbiah station on Sentosa Island, just a five-minute walk from Capella Singapore, where visitors can uncover the tales of the mythical creatures of the sea and find out their fortune for the year ahead.

 

The Legend of Qixi

With Valentine’s Day just passed, the grounds of Capella Singapore was teaming with couples eager to romance their partners at our restaurants, the bar and Auriga spa.  Leading up to this day, there was much ado about Auriga spa’s new couple’s treatment – the Senja Sunyi treatment, which features a special blend of traditional Asian massage techniques. This reminded me of an interesting fact about how there are actually two Chinese Valentine’s Day.

The popular and more well known Chinese Valentine’s Day is “Chap Goh Mei” (literally translated from Hokkien as the fifteenth night), which marks the last day of the Lunar New Year festivities.  This day is typically celebrated by single women who pen their names and contact details on mandarin oranges and toss them into the river for single men to collect and eat.  Sweet oranges would mean that their fate together was good.

The lesser-known tale of the Chinese Valentine’s Day is marked by the seventh day of the seventh month on the Lunar Calendar.  This day is also known as “Qixi” which means the night of sevens and it revolves around a love story between a princess and a cowherd.

qixi

The story tells of a princess, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, Zhinü (literally meaning “the weaver”), who came to Earth to escape her mundane duty of weaving clouds in heaven.  Here she met a young cowherd and they fell in love and got married.  Naturally when the Goddess of Heaven found out about the nuptial, she was furious and ordered Zhinü to return to heaven.

In the midst of his misery, the cowherd heard the voice of one of his oxen, telling him that if he killed it and put on his hide, he would be able to go up to heaven and be with his wife.

The cowherd did as the ox had said and went up to heaven to look for Zhinü.  When the Goddess found out, in her anger she took out her hairpin and scratched a large river in the sky, separating the two lovers for eternity.

All is not lost however.  One night each year, all the magpies in the world would take pity on the star-crossed lovers and fly up into heaven to form a bridge known as Que Qiao, “the bridge of magpies,” so that the lovers can be together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon.

I always love the romance of this story and while it won’t be celebrated for several months I can’t help but think about it during this time of year.  The Qixi festival in 2013 falls on 13 August.

 

 

64px-PD-icon.svg  The image of the star-crossed lovers is in the US public domain as the copyright has expired.

The Legend Of The Chinese Zodiac

The Lunar New Year is probably one of the most important Chinese festivals each year as it marks the coming spring.   This year, the New Year falls on February 10th.  The Lunar New Year is surrounded by age-old myths and folklore.  One of the most popular is the legend of the Chinese Zodiac.  Chinese astrology follows a cycle of twelve animals.  Each represent the Zodiac signs for their respective lunar year, with 2013 being the year of the snake.

According to legend, the Jade Emperor invited all of the animals to participate in a race across the river.  The winners would earn the twelve coveted seats in the Chinese Zodiac.

The rat and the cat were clever enough to hitch a ride on the strongest swimmer – the ox.  Just before it reached the shore, the rat pushed the cat into the river and jumped off the back of the buffalo and across the finish line, making it the first animal to earn a seat in the Zodiac. The ox then took second.

The Chinese Zodiac

In third place came the tiger, which was no surprise.  But in fourth and fifth place, and nearly tied, came the rabbit followed the dragon.  It is said that the dragon, who could have easily won, chose to help the rabbit across the river instead, thus claiming a later place on the calendar.

Behind the dragon, the horse could be seen approaching the shore.  But just as he was about to climb out of the water a snake slithered off the horse’s hoof.  Resulting in the sixth position going to the snake and the seventh to the horse.

The goat, monkey and rooster helped one another across the river on a raft and arrived at the same time.  The Jade Emperor was impressed with their resourcefulness and each received a place on the Chinese Zodiac calendar.  In eleventh place was the dog, who’s arrival was delayed because he enjoyed playing in the water.  After a break for a meal and a nap, the pig crossed the line and claimed the calendar’s final seat.

And now you know how the animals secured a place on the Chinese Calendar!  Oh and the cat?  It crossed the river in the 13th position, thus missing out in the competition.  The cat blamed its misfortune on the rat and they haven’t been friends since!

The Hoppeditz Comes To Dusseldorf’s Carnival

It’s the final countdown: The end of the “fifth season” will be celebrated on February 11th.  Last year at this time, I told you what carnival is about and how we celebrate it in Düsseldorf.  This time, I’d like to tell you about our carnival mascot: the Hoppeditz.

Every year, on November 11th at 11:11 am the Hoppeditz, a jester of sorts, wakes up and drops out of a mustard pot.  Why a mustard pot?  Well, because Dusseldorf is famous for its mustard!  The Hoppeditz then begins the carnival season with a speech in which he roasts the city of Dusseldorf and our mayor.  It is always a good laugh and the mayor always enjoys playing along.  From there, the Hoppeditz acts as a sort of master of ceremonies throughout the Fifth Season, partaking in the many Carnival related festivities.

The Hoppeditz has been a central figure here in Dusseldorf and in 1841 a monument was built in his honor.   At the unveiling of the monument 200 white pigeons were released.  Attached to them a message of Carnival was sent out to the world.  The unveiling resulted in such a celebration that fireworks were set off and residents partied throughout the night.

Hoppeditz

The monument existed only until 1860.  There was a shift in attitudes and no longer was it considered appropriate for public.  During that time carnival and the Hoppeditz was celebrated behind closed doors. Thankfully, in 1937 the public opinion once again shifted.  For the first time carnival was celebrated at the Burgplatz and it continues like this today.  We also have a new monument, erected in 2008 to commemorate the beloved Hoppeditz.

Unfortunately, the Hoppeditz only has a short lifespan.  On Ash Wednesday he is carried to his “grave” in a funeral procession that signifies the start of Lent.  But there is no need for tears, as he will return to Dusseldorf again at the start of the next Carnival season.

If you have an opportunity to partake in the Carnival events this year – take it!   It is truly one of the most exciting and amusing times in Dusseldorf.