Christmas In Singapore

Unlike many countries where people look forward to celebrating a beautiful white Christmas, this is the time of year where our usually sunny island of Singapore is visited by plenty of rain. However as dreary and unromantic as it may seem, I can assure you it’s quite the opposite. This is because it is this very time of year where the city truly comes to life.

In the past, competitions used to be held among the shopping malls to see who could come up with the most creative and beautiful decorations.  While the official competitions are no longer, shops continue to set out their Christmas decorations in an attempt to attract more curious admirers.  Just like that, a simple street is turned into a symphony of beautifully crafted works of art.

Photo by Singapore's Tourism Board.

My favorite part is the annual Orchard Road light up – the official unveiling of the completed decoration. This is the one night where people from all over the island come over to this single stretch of road just to pass through the glittering street. There is a certain thrill, I might add, about seeing the finished masterpiece come to life.  Perhaps it’s the excitement of trying to guess what the theme of each year would be or simply the festive cheer that is evoked by the shimmering display.  Either way, it truly is a sight to behold.

Festive cheer is not just limited to the main island of Singapore. Here at Capella Singapore on Sentosa Island, we also do our best to bring in the holiday spirit, with a whole line up of exciting activities, special Christmas menus and luxurious hampers filled with delectable goodies. Even the hotel is decked out of to the nines!  So, if you’re thinking of somewhere to spend your Christmas vacation, just remember there’s always is the tropical Christmas in Singapore.

Mexican Posadas

Today marks the beginning of the Posadas festivals in Mexico.  Celebrated during the nine days leading up to Christmas, these are perhaps the most colorful ‘fiestas’ in Mexico because of the variety of elements they include.  From the festive decor, to the religious traditions, to the breaking of piñatas, and of course, the lavish meals—there is just so much to see and do during this celebration!

Every family celebrates Posadas with their own special touch.  My family’s Posada party is usually very traditional.  We gather in the house of one of our family members.  The house is decorated for the occasion including a Christmas tree and Nacimiento (a Nativity scene), and each of the women of the family brings a dish, which we all share at the dinner.

The Posada ceremony begins with all of the guests stepping out of the house, while the host stays inside.  We walk the neighborhood singing typical Posada songs, which represent the journey of Joseph and Mary seeking a place to stay overnight.  This “pilgrimage” ends at the hosts’ front door, who after exchanging chants with us welcomes everyone in the house and invites us to a dinner with typical Mexican dishes like pozole, tamales, rajas de chile, atole and buñuelos.

After dinner we gather for breaking of the famous piñata.  This is probably the most well known of the Posada customs and is my favorite part!  According to ritual, each person is blindfolded, and then is asked to hit the piñata, while being cheered on by family.  This practice represents the Catholic belief that people must act in blind faith and follow God in the fight against sin (represented by the piñata).   And when they overcome sin they are blessed with God’s grace (the candy).  Traditionally, the piñata has 7 points that correspond with the 7 deadly sins recognized in Catholicism.

If you visit Capella Ixtapa before Christmas, we’d love to invite you to our Posada celebrations.  It is an excellent opportunity to become part of Mexican traditions.


(En Español)

Posadas Mexicanas

Hoy es el inicio de las fiestas de las Posadas en México. Celebradas durante los nueve días antes de la Navidad, estas son probablemente las fiestas más coloridas en México por la variedad de elementos que incluyen. Desde la decoración festiva, a las tradiciones religiosas, romper la piñata, y claro, la espléndida comida. ¡Hay tanto que ver y hacer durante estas celebraciones!

Cada familia celebra las Posadas con su toque personal. La Posada de mi familia es usualmente muy tradicional. Nos reunimos en la casa de uno de los miembros de la familia. La casa se decora para la ocasión incluyendo el árbol de Navidad y el Nacimiento, y cada una de las mujeres de las familias trae un platillo, los cuales compartimos entre todos en la cena.

La ceremonia de la Posada comienza con los invitados saliendo de la casa, mientras los anfitriones se quedan dentro de ella. Caminamos por el vecindario cantando las típicas canciones de Posada, las cuales representan la travesía de José y María buscando un lugar para pasar la noche. Esta peregrinación termina de vuelta en la puerta del anfitrión el cual después de intercambiar cánticos con nosotros nos da la bienvenida a su casa y nos invita a cenar platillos mexicanos típicos como pozole, tamales, rajas de chile, atole y buñuelos.

Después de la cena nos reunimos para romper la famosa piñata. Esto es probablemente la costumbre más conocida de las Posadas y también ¡mi parte favorita! De acuerdo a la tradición, cada persona se le vendarán los ojos y después se le pedirá que le pegue a la piñata, mientras el resto de la familia lo anima y orienta. Esta práctica representa la creencia Católica sobre que la gente debe actuar a fe ciega y seguir a Dios en la lucha contra el pecado (representado por la piñata). Y cuando logran vencer al pecado serán premiados con la gracia de Dios (los dulces). Tradicionalmente la piñata tiene 7 picos que corresponden a los 7 pecados capitales del Catolicismo.

Si visitas Capella Ixtapa antes de la Navidad, nos encantaría invitarte a nuestras celebraciones de Posada. Será una excelente oportunidad para ser parte de las costumbres Mexicanas.


(In English)

Beloved Christmastime

The holiday season is upon us! This is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love to spend time with friends and family, enjoying all the season has to offer.  Food of course is central, including almond cookies, Christmas biscuits, gingerbread, seasonal chocolates, mulled wine and the list goes on and on.  But, what makes this time of year extra special are the traditional Christmas markets.

During the holiday season the streets of Düsseldorf are transformed into winter wonderlands.  Stalls are set up where vendors sell holiday treats, handcrafted gifts and traditional holiday decorations.  There is nothing more wonderful than spending an evening strolling through the festively illuminated markets with a mug of mulled wine in hand.  In my opinion the best Christmas market is located in the market place and is not to be missed!

This year, the markets are open from November 17 through December 23.  Tours are scheduled that lead participants through the festively decorated streets of Old Town, complete with storytelling, holiday poetry and other themed surprises.


(Auf Deutsch)

Geliebte Vorweihnachtszeit

Die Vorweihnachtszeit hat begonnen! Meine favorisierte Jahreszeit. Ich liebe es, diese Zeit  mit Freunden und der Familie zu verbringen. Dabei spielen natürlich die saisonalen Leckereien wie Printen, Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, Weihnachtsschokolade oder Glühwein (die Liste ist endlos) eine ganz besonders große Rolle. Aber was diese Zeit so besonders macht, sind die traditionellen Weihnachtsmärkte.

Während der Vorweihnachtszeit verwandeln sich die Düsseldorfer Straßen in ein Winterwunderland. An den Ständen verkaufen die Händler weihnachtliches Naschwerk, handgefertigte Geschenke sowie traditionelle Weihnachtsdekorationen. Es gibt nichts Schöneres als abends über die festlich beleuchteten Märkte, mit einem Becher Glühwein in der Hand, zu schlendern und sich die Stände anzuschauen. Meiner Meinung nach sollten Sie den Düsseldorfer Weihnachtsmarkt am Marktplatz auf keinen Fall verpassen!

Dieses Jahr sind die Märkte vom 17. November bis 23. Dezember geöffnet. Organisierte Stadtbummel durch die festlich geschmückte Altstadt begleitet von weihnachtlichen Geschichten, Gedichten und weiteren Überraschungen verwandeln die Stadtführung in ein weihnachtliches Erlebnis.

 (In English)

The Radschläger of Düsseldorf

One of the oldest symbols associated with Düsseldorf is the “Radschläger” or translated, “Cartwheeler.”  No matter if it is a sculpture on the street or on top of a fountain, you can find this character just about everywhere. Making it the most popular souvenir purchase for those looking to commemorate their visit to Düsseldorf.

No one quite remembers when the tradition began, but this city’s symbol is based on the boys who once lived in the town and earned their pocket money by entertaining the pedestrians.  Strolling down the Königsallee (right next to the Old Town) you were sure to see the boys cartwheeling and shouting for a penny at the same time.

Today, the performances are less common. But there are some opportunities to catch the cartwheelers.  In fact, there is a yearly competition!  Every June since 1937, several hundred boys and girls (girls were allowed to compete since 1971!) from approximately 15 different nations participate and present their skills.

Not just the sculptures, which adorn the cityscape, but also the traditions, turn Düsseldorf into a colorful city full of activity and life.


(Auf Deutsch)