Woman’s Carnival Day in Dusseldorf

As I’ve mentioned before, Dusseldorf is one of the best cities to celebrate carnival in Germany. Carnival, which we also call the 5th season, actually starts in November: The 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour and 11th minute. But the real highlight of the carnival season follows in February during the final weekend. This weekend includes the “Woman’s Carnival Day” which has a long tradition in the Rhenish area.

Today, I’d like to tell you more about the Woman’s Carnival Day, the day’s traditions and how the day usually proceed.

rsz_altweiber_2014_-_krawatte_ch

This year, the Woman’s Carnival Day takes place on February 4th, and traditionally starts at 11:11 am. Although it is not a bank holiday, many people leave work at 11:11am, but not before a few pranks are played!  One of the most traditional pranks allows women to cut off the ties of their male counterparts.  To make up for the damage, the women often give the men a peck on the cheek.

Of course, on Woman’s Carnival Day, even the General Manager of Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel is not safe!  The attack on Cyrus Heydarian is always a secret and requires both brazen courage and stealth planning.  There is always a question of who will make this bold move!  Last year, it was our daring Marketing Manager,  Sina Hoekstra.  She bravely took the golden scissors, went to his office and snipped it away!  Fortunately, Cyrus was prepared and was sure to wear an old tie that day!

I can’t wait for February 4th this year, to see who will make the move.  Sorry Cyrus, but tradition is tradition!

 

Altweiber in Düsseldorf

Wie ich Euch bereits erzählt habe, ist Düsseldorf eine der besten Städte in Deutschland, um Karneval zu feiern. Karneval, oder wie wir es auch nennen, die 5. Jahreszeit, startet eigentlich im November: Am 11.11. um 11:11 Uhr. Aber das eigentliche Highlight des Karnevals folgt tatsächlich im Februar, am finalen Wochenende. Dieses Wochenende umfasst neben dem Rosenmontag auch Altweiber. Altweiber findet am Donnerstag vor Rosenmontag statt und blickt auf eine lange Tradition im Rheinland zurück.

Heute möchte ich Euch einwenig mehr über das Altweiber-Fest erzählen, über die Tradition dieses Tages und wie er normalerweise abläuft.

rsz_altweiber_2014_-_krawatte_ch

In diesem Jahr findet Altweiber am 4. Februar statt und wird ebenfalls traditionell um 11:11 Uhr eingeläutet. Obwohl dieser Tag eigentlich kein gesetzlicher Feiertag ist, beenden die meisten um 11:11 Uhr ihren Arbeitstag – aber nicht ohne noch ein paar Streiche zu spielen! Der bekannteste Streich an diesem Tag erlaubt es Frauen, ihren männlichen Arbeitskollegen die Kravatten abzuschneiden. Als Entschädigung bekommen sie dafür einen Kuss von den Frauen auf die Wange.

Natürlich ist an einem solchen Tag auch der Direktor vom Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel nicht sicher vor diesen Streichen! Der Überfall auf Cyrus Heydarian ist immer streng geheim und bedarf großen Mut und genauste Planung. Jedes Jahr stellt sich die Frage, wer wohl den Kravatten-Streich übernehmen wird. Letztes Jahr war unsere Marketing Managerin Sina Hoekstra die mutige Person. Sie machte kurzen Prozess: Nahm die goldene Schere, ging selbstbewusst in das Büro und schnitt die Kravatte von unserem Direktor kurzerhand ab! Zum Glück war Cyrus vorbereitet und trug an diesem Tag eine alte Kravatte.

Ich freue mich schon auf das diesjährige Altweiber-Fest am 4. Februar und bin gespannt, wer sich in diesem Jahr traut. Tut mit leid Cyrus, aber Tradition ist Tradition!

Celebrating New Year’s Eve Around The World

New Year’s Eve happens to be one of my favorite holidays.  It involves self-reflection, a moment of bliss, and a commitment to renewal all wrapped into one night.  There is something so miraculous about millions of people joining together to countdown the last ten seconds of the year with the anticipation of a brighter and enlightened new beginning.  No matter what part of the world New Year’s is celebrated, traditions are honored with equal enthusiasm.  Along with the glitz and the glam of how you spend your New Years Eve, I have come to realize the best way to celebrate is to surround yourself with the ones you love the most.

At Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown, our Capella family hails from many different countries and nations, each with their own New Year’s traditions.  Here are some of the interesting ways New Year’s Eve around the world is celebrated, as told by my Capella Washington, D.C. colleagues:

Iran by Cameron Nezam: Pastry delicacies are a main focal point in celebrating the New Year.  Families  bake goodies and treat one another to desserts as a way of ensuring a “sweet” New Year.

Cameron Nezam - Director of Diplomatic and Group Sales

Switzerland by Kelly Schneider: Lake Zurich offers the perfect backdrop setting for a magical display of fireworks.  Over 200,000 people gather together to celebrate with live music and entertainment and a sense of community.

Kelly Schneider - Catering Sales Manager

Belgium by Marie Belaen: A thoughtful gesture of gifting your loved ones with small presents as a token of good luck for the upcoming year is often observed in Brussels.

Marie Belaen - Sales and Marketing Intern

Philippines by Michael Katigbak: Part of the fun of getting ready for New Year’s Eve is collecting twelve round fruits.  Each one signifies a month of the year with the round shape being a metaphor for the year coming full circle.  In the tropics the fruit can be a lychee, but with tropical fruits harder to come by in the U.S., grapes are a perfect stand-in.

Michael Katigbak - Director of Sales and Marketing

Cultures and traditions vary geographically but each one, at its root, is meant to bring happiness, prosperity and good luck in the New Year.  If you happen to be celebrating in Washington D.C. this year, Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown is having a grand New Year’s Eve celebration.  The event starts with cocktails in The Rye Bar, leading into a special five-course champagne dinner hosted by our Executive Chef, Frank Ruta and Master Sommelier, Keith Goldston in The Grill Room, and finally dancing and musical entertainment into the New Year on our Rooftop Bar & Lounge.  I hope to see you there!

Rooftop Lounge

For more information about our Rooftop New Year’s Eve Party, please email our Personal Assistant team at pa.dc@capellahotels.com or call 202.617.2416.  Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

A Christmas Market Favorite: Roasted Almonds

Winter is my favorite time of the year, which is why I try to cherish each moment as much as I can. Christmas time brings back so many childhood memories, involving both friends and family in Dusseldorf and around the globe. My absolute favorite winter activity is a visit to the Christmas Markets.rsz_collage_blog_post_mandeln

Just in Dusseldorf, we have 12 Christmas markets spread throughout the entire city center  which are open from November 19th until December 23rd. I have visited various markets around Germany and I must admit that every single one is beautiful in its own way. Nevertheless, there is one attribute that differentiates a good market from an outstanding Christmas market: the quality of roasted almonds being sold in the festive booths.

Did you know that the production of roasted almonds has a tradition of over one hundred years? Even today, each almond roaster has his or her own recipe and production preferences, which varies only in minor details, but can seriously impact the final taste of the almonds.

In an old cookbook from 1870, I found a rather simple recipe, that makes quite irresistible roasted almonds.  The recipe calls for 500g of sugar disolved in water, to which 500g of almonds are added. The almonds get cooked and roasted, while cinnamon is sprinkled on top of the warm almonds. At the end, in order to achieve a shine, the almonds are toasted in a hot oven.

If you enjoy the delicious taste and typical smell of warm, freshly roasted almonds as much as I do, then join me at one of the Christmas markets in and around Dusseldorf during the next few weeks. Of course, our Personal Assistants at the Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel would be pleased to support you in finding your “perfect” Christmas market.

Furthermore, if you also love to enjoy roasted almonds outside of the Christmas season, I can recommend the Dusseldorf almond roasting shop to you. Here you can enjoy the taste of Christmas 365 days a year!

Die 5 kulinarischen Highlights der Rheinkirmes

Düsseldorfs größtes Sommerfest ist die Rheinkirmes. Zum 115. mal, wird das Rheinufer von Düsseldorf in einen einzigartigen Freizeitpark verwandelt. Ein riesiges Sommerfest mit traditionellen Bierzelten, spektakulären Fahrattraktionen, live Bands, herzhaften Leckereien, Süßigkeiten und über vier Millionen Besucher aller Altersgruppen. Es ist großartig!
Die 9-Tage andauernde Kirmes vereint Traditionen und kulinarische Köstlichkeiten mit Unterhaltung. Da es so viel zu entdecken gibt, fühlt man sich leicht überwältigt. Das beste an der Kirmes ist das Essen! Daher teile ich heute mit Euch meine 5 kulinarischen Highlights der Rheinkirmes.

 

Tradition / Brauchtum - Kirmes Skyline

Tradition / Brauchtum – Kirmes Skyline

# 1 Backfisch
Falls Ihr frittierten Fisch mögt, werdet Ihr den Backfisch lieben. Als Beilage könnt Ihr zwischen einem Backfisch im Brötchen oder frischen Pommes Frites entscheiden. Ihr müsst unbedingt die Remoularde probieren – Sie passt perfekt. Ihr solltest Euch dieses Gericht nicht entgehen lassen!
#2 Bratwurst
Ein Ausflug zur Kirmes ohne Bratwurst, ist kein richtiger Kirmesausflug.
Die Bratwurst wird in einem knusprigen Brötchen serviert, mit Sauerkraut als traditioneller Beilage. Den Senf nicht vergessen! Dieser ist erhältlich in den verschiedensten Geschmacksrichtungen von würzig und grob bis hin zu süß und scharf ist für jeden Geschmack etwas dabei.
#3 Kartoffelpuffer
Es gibt nichts Besseres als einen frisch zubereiteten Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus. Er ist der perfekte Mix zwischen süß und herzhaft und schmeckt am besten mit der #4!
#4
Düsseldorf liegt im Zentrum einer der interessantesten Bierregionen in Deutschland. Also führt kein Weg an einem Düsseldorfer Altbier vorbei. Es sind drei klassische Brauereien auf der Kirmes vertreten Füchschen, Uerige und Schuhmacher. Jeder Düsseldorfer hat seinen persönlichen Favoriten, Ihr solltet alles probieren um auch Euren Favoriten auswählen zu können!

#5 Gebratene Mandeln
Ihr solltet Euch direkt zwei Packungen kaufen, denn diese Mandeln schmecken köstlich. Der perfekte Mix zwischen knusprig und süß, Ihr könnt sie snacken während Ihr die Fahrattraktionen erlebt.

Ich freue mich schon über Eurer Feedback bezüglich meiner Top 5. Außerdem, gibt es nicht nur Essen zu entdecken! Eine Rheinschifffahrt während des Feuerwerks ist meine absolute Krönung und ein definitives Muss. Wenn Ihr das nächste Mal zu Gast im Breidenbacher Hof seid, fragt unsere Persönlichen Assistenten und sie werden sich um alle Gegebenheiten kümmern.

Dragon Boat Festival

Chinese history and culture fascinates me. Behind every holiday, every celebration is more than a thousand years of history and mythology.

On 2 June 2014, we celebrated Dragon Boat Festival. Locals in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong enjoyed a few days off to cheer for their Dragon Boat teams and feast with their families. While it is not officially a holiday in Singapore, it is still widely celebrated here in Singapore by local Chinese.

Dragon Boat Racers

Dragon Boat Racers

Contrary to what you may imagine, the story behind the Dragon Boat Festival is one of great tragedy. According to legend, in the third century B.C, Qu Yuan, a scholar and councillor to the King warned his king, Lord Huai, of an ominous threat from the northern Qing kingdom. Instead of listening to his advisor, the king banished him to the countryside. The king then took counsel from corrupt and scrupulous statesmen that cared not for the king and country but for money. Qu Yuan took to writing beautiful soulful poetry about the plight of the nation which inspired many countryfolk. In 278 B.C, the Qing armies conquered his kingdom and destroyed the imperial palace. Distraught, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Mi-Luo River, killing himself.

When the villagers saw Qu Yuan jump into the river, they attempted to save him, to no avail. They then tried to appease his spirit by throwing rice stuffed in bamboo stems into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body. The villagers all went out in dragon boats trying to look for his body but they could not find it. Thus, began the practice of eating rice dumplings and racing dragon boats. Isn’t it interesting how a tragic event in the past can lead to a colourful vibrant festival today?

One of the reasons I personally love Dragon Boat Festival is because I have an excuse to eat deliciously sweet rice dumplings. In my opinion, one of the best dumplings in Singapore is made and sold by Kim Choo’s Kitchen. Kim Choo’s kitchen, nestled in the heart of Singapore’s East Coast, Joo Chiat, is a true delight for the senses. Here, you can buy a colourful assortment of local confectionary, cakes and dumplings. As the dumplings and cakes are so popular, I suggest you come early during the day to be able to even get your hands on them.

Rice dumplings with tea

Rice dumplings with tea

Kim Choo’s Kitchen is an easy 25-minute drive from Capella Singapore. You may wish to spend a whole day wandering the historical streets of Joo Chiat, stopping for lunch at Kim Choo’s Kitchen. Our Personal Assistants will be able to assist you with planning your visit to Joo Chiat and share more about the Dragon Boat Festival. You can reach them at pa.singapore@capellahotels.com / +65 6591 5035.